Chris Sweet, Sports Editor at the Western Gazette and Yeovil supporter gives his views ahead of the weekend match.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m the Western Gazette sports editor and have been in the role for two years, having joined the newspaper eight years ago as a news reporter. I was born in Yeovil 30 years ago and have lived either in Yeovil or a town seven miles down the road almost all of my life, university bringing the only change in location.
I can remember convincing my Dad when I was eight to go and watch the Glovers in the FA Cup at home to Walsall and I’ve been hooked ever since! It must have had quite an impact on my father as well as he’s been a season-ticket holder for a good number of years now. I realised sports journalism may be the career for me when I was 15 and set myself the goal of becoming Yeovil Town reporter. Like any job it has its ups and downs, but it has been an incredible experience so far – the whole promotion package will live long in the memory.
2. How do you expect your team to do this season?
Gone are the days when the Glovers are the plucky survivors, doing their best to stay above that dreaded relegation line…
As both a fan and a reporter, a top-half finish has to be a must. Gone are the days when the Glovers are the plucky survivors, doing their best to stay above that dreaded relegation line. The club have set a record playing budget during its time in League One, so that has also heightened expectation. Yeovil have to finish comfortably in the top half, with a promotion push being a pleasant bonus.
3. Who should we watch out for?
Although clearly nervous and eager to impress, striker Jordy Hiwula looked useful on debut last week against MK Dons. His pace and running added an extra attacking dimension and he certainly looked hungry to get off the mark with a goal. Nathan Ralph is another to look out for. Able to play left midfield or left back, the former Peterborough United youngster endured a torrid first couple of years at Huish Park, missing most of the promotion season and the entire of the Championship campaign through injury. Now fully fit and firing, we’re getting a good idea of his true quality.
4. What are your thoughts on your manager?
Although results haven’t gone Yeovil’s way and there have been some poor performances, Johnson has remained relatively level and calm…
Although results haven’t gone Yeovil’s way and there have been some poor performances, Johnson has remained relatively level and calm. This is probably the first time during his spells at Yeovil that he has been subjected to a certain section of fans calling for him to leave, such are the heightened expectations amongst fans who are disappointed with a below-par start to the year. The entire defensive unit was remodelled during the summer and further tweaked with the addition of another keeper (Jake Kean from Blackburn) a month ago. We’ve seen both the best and the worst from Johnson’s new-look team, with consistency and added defensive resolve needed to improve.
5. What are your thoughts on your board and off-field activities?
They’re facing a tough spell. As with a lot of clubs, there are plenty of voices both for and against them. The failure of recent plans to build a supermarket on training pitches at Huish Park, with rent revenue to improve our dated stadium, did little for their popularity and the next step will be a crucial one. Directors clashed with Johnson on transfer deadline day when a communication issue meant a transfer did not go through, with plenty of supporter split supporting either the stance of the board or manager.
6. Which one Vale player (past or present) would you sign?
Tom Pope would be too obvious, so I’ll plump for Stephane Zubar. He’s always looked solid against Yeovil and has a good level of experience. He even trained at Hush Park when Terry Skiverton was in charge, but his wages would have proved a stumbling block and he was soon off to Bournemouth.
7. How do you expect Vale to do this season?
Vale’s set up, style and approach has done them well in recent years and there’s no reason why it can’t do that again…
Vale have evidently had a really difficult start to the season but there’s no reason why that can’t be turned around. After a turbulent start to the year, a little stability will do wonders. Vale’s set up, style and approach has done them well in recent years and there’s no reason why it can’t do that again.
8. What is your team’s most memorable game with Vale?
Port Vale 4 Yeovil Town 2 in March 2007 was an entertaining one! Two months later, the Glovers were preparing for two of the most important games in the club’s history before reaching Wembley for the play-off final. However, going 2-0 down within 17 minutes at Vale, clawing it back to 2-2 and then conceding twice after the break wasn’t in the plan!
9. A score prediction?
1-0 to Yeovil, Hiwula with a late winner.