Five Stars: Yeovil Town's best players in the 21st century
For Ben Barrett, choosing the five best Yeovil players since the turn of the millennium was a difficult task. Since the year 2000, Yeovil have been promoted twice, secured the FA Trophy and even got to a play-off final which nearly saw them play in the second tier of English football for the first time.
To narrow the most successful era in the club’s history down to just five players was difficult enough, but with the club having turned over a whole new squad virtually every summer, there is plenty to choose from.
Loan players more than played their part. If they had been considered for selection, the likes of Steven Caulker, Asmir Begovic, Shaun Macdonald and Leon Best would have been available for the ultimate Glovers 5-a-side team. Three players with Premier League futures and a couple of full internationals.
The first name on the list is an obvious one – Terry Skiverton. Skivo, not content with being one of the most trustworthy centre-backs ever to wear green and white, is now the manager of the first team. Terry joined in 1999, has since notched up 11 years worth of service and was awarded with a testimonial the summer before last. The former captain accumulated nearly 400 appearances for the Glovers and led the club during its rise through the leagues, lifting the three pieces of silverware to grace the trophy cabinet since 2000. Added to that, he has just completed his first 100 games in management guiding Yeovil away from the drop zone twice. Skivo is Mr Yeovil and one of the living legends of the club.
It is probably important to stress that this choice refers to the original Super Gav, not the one who joined on loan twice from Bristol City in the last two seasons. Originally joining in 2002, Williams played just shy of 100 times before moving on. Williams was one of the most exciting midfielders ever to grace Huish Park. He could pass a ball crossfield without thinking, he could tackle, he could score and he created a large amount of goals that fired Yeovil up the leagues.
A true playmaker and fans’ favourite, it was never going to be long before his talent was noticed and, sure enough, West Ham came calling. Williams then played his part in securing the Hammers’ return to the Premier League. His two subsequent loan spells back at Huish Park were great for reminiscing about past times but, in truth, his legs weren’t what they were, even if his brain was still as switched on as before.
Next is Chris Cohen, one of many to play both as a loanee and as a permanent member of the playing staff. Cohen is everything that Yeovil have been about since the year 2000, a young, hungry footballer on the way out of his parent club West Ham and looking to get his career going again. He played his heart out for the club willing to give him a shot. Cohen was still young and learning his game, yet he would control games much like Gavin Williams had done before him.
His left foot was as sweet as any seen at Huish Park and it was clear he fell in love with Yeovil. He was the most important member of the 2006/07 play-off side that was so close to taking the Glovers to the Championship – for that season’s performances he could not be left out. Cohen’s £1.2million pound move (with Arron Davies) to Nottingham Forest was nothing more than he deserved.
Perhaps a slightly surprising choice to some, Peltier initially joined from Liverpool on a temporary basis. When the end of the season saw him released from Anfield, he become a permanent fixture in the Glovers side. Consistently performing as one of the best players in the squad, Peltier was most definitely one of the most talented young full-backs ever to play for Yeovil. He grew into his career and learned so much at Yeovil, quickly adapting to other positions and even acting as captain.
Unfortunately, like many other top quality youngsters, when he was good enough to command a six figure sum, he was sold. The very best Yeovil players not only serve the club when they play, but for long after they leave. Peltier’s transfer fee probably kept the club ticking over for another season – in today’s environment the importance of this cannot be underestimated.
Last but by no means least is Darren Way, the little midfield general known as “Weasel”. Way is another to have played for the club twice. He is now technical coach at Yeovil but would probably still be playing if it hadn’t been for a horrific car accident in December 2008. Despite being no taller than your average jockey, Way could still beat most other central midfielders to an aerial ball.
His combative style made him a true fans’ favourite, his terrier-like approach won him admirers in the leagues above and he did have a spell at Swansea before returning to Yeovil with his stay in Wales spent mostly on the physio’s table. Way’s accident may have ended his career, but his passion to get through some terrible injuries to make a special appearance at Terry Skiverton’s testimonial ensured there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
It is fair to suggest that this list was narrowed down from maybe 25 names. Some of those who missed out, albeit not by much, included Marcus Stewart, Lee Johnson and Chris Weale, while some were talented enough but just didn’t fit the bill. Michael McIndoe was technically superb, but leaving in the manner he did spoiled it for everyone. A nod at this time to some of the cult heroes Yeovil have had – Hugo Rodrigues, Pablo Bastianini and Bartosz Tarachulski made compiling this list so much fun.
Of the current crop, only Craig Alcock was in real contention but that isn’t to say that, with a splash of loyalty, Paul Huntington, Luke Ayling and Dean Bowditch all have the potential to join the list in time.
If the next ten years produce a new Skiverton, Williams, Cohen, Peltier and Way, there will be a lot of very happy Yeovil Town fans.