I had promised one last blog from Brett and here it is. I asked him to look back on his last four years at Top Field. He has done this in his typically forthright style combining humour with some interesting observations. I have really enjoyed editing Brett’s blogs and I know they have been really enjoyed by our supporters. He will be a very hard act to follow and football really does need more characters like Brett.
So many thanks Brett for the last four seasons on and off the pitch. Nobody could ever say you did not give everything for the club and the blogs have been the icing on the cake. Incidentally I have learned that the ”biting” incident at the Tiverton game has been investigated by the Football Association and the Tiverton player has been charged with biting Brett. He has pleaded not guilty and Brett will appear as a witness at a hearing at Wembley on a date to be decided. I will let you know the outcome in due course.
Roy asked me to do one last blog to look back over my last 4 years at the club. It’s the least I could do as I was slightly surprised at how well the blog was received. I’ll go through things chronologically as that’s the easiest way! I’ll apologise now for any incorrect facts and to anyone I leave out. It’s not personal, I either don’t like you or you just weren’t important enough to mention!
I was approached by Burkey to sign at the end of the previous season as he felt he needed a little more experience in the ranks. Super Simon Martin was there but I think Burkey wanted someone a little nastier. Si is one of the nicest men I’ve met in the game. Ultra professional, always positive, horrific fashion sense though!
Hitchin had done OK the season before but Biggleswade had finished above them. However Burkey clearly has an eye for a player and decided to rob the Waders of their crown jewel!!!! Cough cough.. Jonny Mac came in from Arlesey along with Belly Walster straight from fat camp. We started the season in typical fashion. slowly! We were out of the FA Cup early (something that seems to happen all too regularly) but by Christmas the play-offs were in sight. Off the field there was a sense that the players had become comfortable in each other’s company. The beginning of the odd squad was taking place. Misfits from here there and everywhere were slowly being polished into a well oiled machine. Charlie Horlock had arrived in goal and that settled us down. MJ and Tahj were having a real confidence crisis but Charlie signing seemed to get us back on track. We needed to as I think we went 13-15 games without a win. But credit to everyone around the club as it didn’t feel like we were far away. I think the fans saw this and we finished quite strongly. By our last game of the season Cozza (David Corran) was the only outfield player that hadn’t scored. He duly obliged with a ripper against already relegated Burnham. The fact Cozza scored past them probably meant they were a pretty terrible team! We played Hereford supporters on the last weekend of the season. A game that sticks out for Si Martin missing without doubt the easiest hat trick anyone could ever miss.
Summary – not a bad year and the signs were there was more to come!
Burkey got in Charlie full time, brought Egghead (Josh Bickerstaff) in from play-off defeated St Neots. Egghead is one of the afore mentioned pub players that Parks (Adam Parker) likes to call us. They are the players that aren’t particularly good, but try hard, run around a lot and are always there. They include myself, Dave (Dan Webb), Callum, Belly and MJ. I can’t remember anyone else who came in that year but at the end of the previous season two young lads started training with us and broke into the squad. One was Liam Brooks, the other was Kane Smith – and what a player he turned out to be! This was also the season where we had the return of the Messiah – the one and only Mr J Frendo. I snapped ligaments pre-season in my ankle meaning we were light up top. I think Frendo came back in September time. Sadly it didn’t work out for him or us. Shame because he is a top player. Who knows a firing Frendo that season might have got us up. Unfortunately it was back to me and Burnsy. It was a funny season as we just kept plodding away. Macca (Jonny McNamara) was unbelievable at times. Cirencester away is a performance that he still goes on about now. In fact that was probably his last good game!! We started to panic a bit in April when it actually looked like we could make the play-offs. Kano was getting rave reviews and trialling at every club going. Not ever looking like getting a move but managing to bring me some shorts from a few of the clubs he’d been at. I’m pretty sure he didn’t pay for them either! However I was about to help my stats out as silly boy Macca had gotten himself a 6 game ban for spitting meaning he was going to miss the rest of the season. This was a huge blow as Macca had done more than most in getting us where we were. But that meant a young lad named Will Wright was pushed in at right back meaning Kano was now on the wing. All of a sudden we started scoring with me and Burnsy getting 10 between us in the last 5 games. Sadly we chucked away a 2-0 semi final lead in the play-offs. My favourite team Hungerford did us and went up!!! We did pick ourselves up and won the Herts Senior Cup.
Summary – play-off defeat and a cup won. Punching above our weight.
We had had a few departures. Macca had gone to Hemel, Kane was unsure if he was getting into the pro game. Charlie Horlock had moved back home and super Si had retired. Not good for me as I was the oldest in the squad.. by a very long way. We were very young. I won’t lie I was a little worried we had only brought in a couple of unproven players. We did sign Zac Barrett, top keeper at this level. He only lasted 4-5 games and all of a sudden were left with MJ. He’d not been playing much since a couple of years previously when he hadn’t covered himself in much glory. Now you are only as good as your keeper and the fact we made the play-offs probably tells you how well he did that season. Lenchy was now a lot more consistent in his performances, Webby and Camel (Lewis Rolfe) developed a great understanding. Will Wright blossomed and Brooksy had now had a year at this level. Callum and Egghead gave us lots of experience in the middle of the park (no quality but lots of experience) and Lucas was now a lot more settled and a little less headless. Ali Ann had been struggling now for a while with injuries and his influence from the previous season wasn’t there. He’s a lovely bloke Ali, but I am not sure he’s 13 years younger than me though! And still up top it was me and Burnsy. The 30 goal a season striker was still evading Burkey! We started ok as usual. Usual rubbish in the FA Cup and Trophy but this year we seemed so much more confident. Around Christmas I think we went on a 14/15 game unbeaten run and that set us up nicely to get in the play-offs. Kane and Macca were back. Kane was there pretty much all season in fairness. We went to Merthyr for the play-off semi- final without star man Kane. They were a big strong team and very good at home. They scored early and I thought that was that. but we got an equaliser and somehow managed to hang on for penalties– largely thanks to MJ and some unbelievable defending. We are decent in shoot outs so I fancied us. 4 cracking penalties and MJ saving 2 meant we’d done it ! One game away! We all know what happened next! That damn Camel.. he let me dream. I thought we were going up. It wasn’t to be. It was definitely a line in the sand moment.
Summary – so near yet so far. Another cup. Great season.
A case of after the Lord Mayor’s show. It just didn’t get going. We lost Lenchy, Will and Kane. Burnsy needed an operation. Macca was back at Hemel (again). We brought in a lot of new faces in Larry (Elliot Bailey), Chaz (Charlie Smith), Greeny (Jack Green), Terry (Trey Charles) and Connor Vincent. My brother Callum and Brooksy would leave early in the season. We couldn’t string results together and we took too many beatings. We hadn’t been slapped like we were this year in the previous seasons. We had become a little soft. We weren’t hard to beat. I think a lot of us were scarred from the play-off defeat. You could sense towards the end of the season that it was the end of the line for some of the old guard. Macca had come back (again) and wasn’t the player he was. I was picking up injuries and lots of others including Webby, Camel, MJ and Belly weren’t hitting the standards of last year. We salvaged something in winning the League Cup but it was a disappointing end. I did find out I’m not too bad a centre half though!
Summary – a damp squib glossed over with the cup win.
So that’s me. I’m off to pastures I know well. The last 4 years have been a little bit of a rollercoaster. I have enjoyed it so much I would say it has been my happiest time both on and off the field. I have said for a long time the team spirit here is second to none. Off the field no one has more fun than us. We have had some great times and I have made friends here that I hope I will see for years to come. We have visited more pop worlds than I care to remember, upset more people with some of our drunken antics than I care to remember. We’ve been to Nice, Salou, Benidorm and other places and just really enjoyed each other’s company. Stories that can’t be aired here but some of you will have heard a few I’m sure.
Before I go I will set a couple of things straight with regards my new role at Biggleswade Town. We did talk to Josh, we’re not signing Camel, Macca is my mate and I made him come and Connor Vincent begged me to take him!!!
Lastly I would like to thank everyone associated with the club – committee, fans, helpers, groundsmen and all those who I have had the privilege of talking to since I came back. Special mentions to Roy, Del (Barker – hope you are on the mend mate) Nick (Sopowski), Connor (Moran), Strats (Ian Stratford), Stretch (Richard Wilmot), Steve Conroy, Parks and Burkey. All stand up guys.
All the players who have been here that made it special. Extra special shout to my room mates on overnight stops– Macca, Cozza, Morgs (Mason Spence). You deserve a medal.
It’s been brilliant. Memories for life.
I thank you all and I will see you all next season.