So, Roy asked me to write this blog to raise spirits in these difficult times. He’s asked a bloke who has sat inside his house for 10 days with his wife and two kids who hate sport to raise people’s spirits? Roy, if anyone needs their spirits raising surely it’s me!!! Saying that I’ve raised a few spiced rums…
Firstly, I hope everyone out there is safe and well. Difficult times bring out the best in most and it has been brilliant seeing all the nostalgic posts on social media. The virus has taken away something that we all love more than we can explain, and its absence has certainly made me realise that my life completely revolves around football. My biggest miss is that I haven’t been able to give any abuse to Len, the flag crew or any of the fans that love giving me some stick. At least the pitch will be immaculate when we get back I guess as this is the perfect scenario for Steve and the ground staff… no football being played on it.
The Coronavirus – something I had never heard of two months ago. I always thought it was what you woke up with after an 18-hour binge in Magaluf! Sadly it has caused more disruption to our every day routine than anything since World War II. Personally I have had to stop my company working leaving 12 men out of work at present.
Burkey called all the players in on 19th March to explain that we would not be back in together until the end of April. I knew then that we would not be back in at all. And so it proved. I think I am one of the minority that believe the FA got it right in voiding our season. Points per game (PPG) just isn’t fair. However if we were in around the top spots I’d probably see it differently!
It has left a massive void in my life and I am hoping that those boys who are playing but don’t ever give 100% have had their eyes opened to the fact that your career is over in a flash so make the most of every second. I certainly have.
For us at Hitchin, we had just started to see some green shoots appearing. In a season that started so badly we managed to turn it around in parts. The basis of a good team is here. It needs adding to. Recent good results have coincided with a brilliant decision by Burkey to reinstate an effective target man. Met by a host of grumbles from fans and committee to see a 37-year-old donkey chucked in from the off to plod around up top isn’t ideal but what an impact… going to the 3rd and 5th placed teams in the league away from home and returning with two convincing 2-1 wins. My contract is on the table waiting for signature (I joke). But this does show you what we are capable of. Imagine how it will be when we get an actual forward in!
In terms of how I saw the season it was mainly disappointing. I wanted to come back and get the team buzzing again. Sadly it hasn’t worked out like that. However, you learn from your mistakes. We definitely have something to build on going forward. Anyway enough of all that… let’s get a break down of the season in Donners end of season review.
Pre-season: Lots of promise in the squad. Looking about we thought we had a decent pool of players to play with… how wrong we were!
August to September: Losing our two main goal threats in Draper and Bird in the space of two weeks threw all our plans out of the window. However just two wins in the FA Cup and a drubbing at Welwyn in the Southern League Cup opened our eyes to how far off we were. Changes were needed.
October to December: In came the Camel (Lewis Rolfe) and Belly (Ben Walster). This was the quality that was required. Also, there were new faces in Marshy (Alex Marsh), JD (Jhai Dhillon) and Layne Eadie. On loan came Steve Cawley. We looked so much better and managed to get our first win. We did ok up to Christmas but local derby defeats to Biggleswade & Kings Langley showed once again we were coming up short.
January to March: Some big results here. Peterborough Sports, Stourbridge, Bromsgrove and Coalville all despatched away from home. Jake Hutchinson and Diogo Freitas-Gouveia had found their feet. Like I said the green shoots were there. Our home form wasn’t great but we had hardly played at home.
Overall I would say we got a C+. Must try harder. We can beat the best but it just means we need to put the same energy, work rate and communication into every game.
End of Season Awards
Worst trainer: Max Ryan – The most annoying bloke I have ever come across in all my years in the game! Undoubtedly he has got talent just has no idea what is going on. Also loves smashing the ball out the ground. (coaches nightmare).
Goal of the season: Diogo away at Stourbridge – I was shouting “give it, pass it, what the **** is he doing… Great goal mate”- unreal feet and balance.
Worst goal: Any of LB’s (Lewis Barker) – His handball goal at Barton was disgraceful. I nearly felt sorry for Yella (Barton manager Tony Fontanelle) after that.
The “I can’t stop beating myself up for messing up” award: Few contenders here. Belly after one of his 60 yard cross field balls is cut out by the bloke eight yards in front of him. Ding Dong (Bradley Bell) after another cross hits the first man. But the winner is Alex Marsh. Never stops trying but for a brief period I didn’t think we would see him back to the player we signed. Couldn’t pass three yards, lost it continually and pounded the floor more times than I can remember. At least he cares.
Best tackle: LB at home to Peterborough Sports: Took the lot. Ref didn’t like it. Pathetic!
Weirdest friendship: This is one I like as me and Matt Lench have struck up an unusual friendship. We shouldn’t get on but we do. In this squad I look at LB & Pob (Josh Coldicott-Stevens) and think what do they talk about. Pob is a tee total model professional, full-time coach… LB is a boozing womaniser who works on site. Brilliant.
Thickest player: Lots in this category. When Jack Green isn’t even considered you know it’s bad. LB, Ryan Smith and Charlie Horlock are all up for it. LB missed training one night as he forgot. When called to ask where he was his reply was “I am in the bath bruv.” A second time he went to the Arena when the message was go to the ground! Charlie Horlock misread a text one week thinking the game had been called off. It hadn’t been. Lucky for him it did get called off and he was already at the training ground! Ryan Smith has never been called Smudger!! Ryan Smith doesn’t know what a “score” is in monetary terms. Ryan Smith is a lovely lad but is slightly vacant. You can decide who gets it.
Most intelligent player: Marshy comes out with loads of big words and plans. Seems very clever. JD is a 24-year-old multi-millionaire and has played in two world cups. Layney works for the Ministry of Defence! JD for me because he recommended two books to me and I have had to Google most of the words in them.
Tightest player: Baggo (Jack Green), LB, Pob and any of the loanees. JD is a millionaire but never goes to the bar so for that it’s his award.
Best post-Christmas weight loss: Camel, Marshy, Belly, Steve Cawley and myself all decided to shed a bit of excess after Christmas. Marshy didn’t need to but joined in. I did a little bit. Steve and Belly – unsure what they were supposed to have done.Camel did wonders. He became really boring though and his performance disintegrated!!
Best looking player: Marshy you are ginger mate. Rio has it all going on. Chaz is an adonis, but baby faced. Greeno’s greenpeace membership rules him out. JD is having himself. But got to be Diogo. Mediterranean good looks!
Ugliest player: Layney: Was called Frank Ribery at Tamworth. Marshy (ginger) or LB – his mirror is a liar. Max Ryan is just an odd looking bloke and wins it.
Best looking member of the management: Clearly Brett Donnelly.
Ugliest member of the management team: Sorry Parks (Adam Parker) but it is you. mate.
Funniest player: Dave (Dan) Webb very dry. LB- he is not funny but just makes me laugh.
Hope you all enjoyed my little look back. I have enjoyed my return. It has opened my eyes to what is done behind the scenes. The things you don’t see as a player. Let us hope next season starts soon, I need to be back amongst it. I have missed being around football. The lads, the management, the fans, the away days, the highs and the lows. The stupid things we laugh at that no one gets, the banter, the camaraderie, the silencing of the opposition fans at away games, the abuse, seeing old friends.
The thing I have missed the most… the chance to play against Jamie Hood one more time!
Stay safe, stay in and see you all soon. Remember to buy your 50/50 tickets to fundraise for the Club and the NHS.