Ton up for Skivo as Yeovil Town march on
Terry Skiverton celebrates 100 competitive games in charge of Yeovil Town today. With that milestone, Skivo also completes a week and two years in the manager’s office at Huish Park. Yeovil supporter Ben Barrett pays tribute to a tremendous servant of a club arguably punching above their weight alongside some famous names in League One.
Mr Yeovil stepped into the role in February 2009 and has successfully masterminded two relegation scraps. Skivo is in the middle of trying to successfully negotiate a third, despite many other managers falling by the wayside on an almost weekly basis. The number of sackings and resignations amongst Skiverton’s peers has seen him jump to being the 26th longest-serving gaffer in the Football League, which, out of 92, isn’t bad at all.
Regardless of the happenings surrounding Skiverton, for fans of the Glovers it’s only really the goings on at Huish Park that concerns them. If we’re honest, we all had questions when Skivo was appointed as an initial player-manager following the departure of Russell Slade.
Did he have the experience? Did he have the contacts? Were we set for players from the middle of nowhere and those that Gary Johnson didn’t want any more? Could he play and manage at the same time? But most importantly, did this mean he had to cut his hair for a more ‘professional’ look?
Thankfully, the long blonde locks remained, and the questions were answered.
He didn’t have the experience, but what he lacked in managerial know-how, he made up for in passion and effort. There have been a few mistakes – even Skivo has acknowledged that – but, more often than not, he has embraced the learning curve and got as much right as could reasonably be expected. He made the step from captain to gaffer look surprisingly easy.
Skiverton’s contacts book did stretch further that just Uncle Gary. A number of top quality young players came in from Tottenham and his ability to bring in loans from the very best clubs in the land, as well as making impressions on some of the permanent signings, confirms his popularity. One of the better examples being Luke Ayling. You don’t get a lad from Arsenal in on a contract unless you know people and how to deal with the very best.
Initially, he tried to play and manage – as did Nathan Jones as Skivo’s right hand man – but, over time, they have both taken to staying in the offices and leaving the on-pitch leadership to the likes of Craig Alcock and, more recently, Paul Huntington. Whilst it is a shame to no longer see Skivo the player every Saturday, he’s still making an impact from the sidelines.
So what about the team? We haven’t made the huge strides up the league that we have become used to seeing with Skivo as a player, but we were never likely to. Playing in League One is still an achievement when comparing budgets and the size of the club and home town.
Despite more than the fair share of loan signings (which, depending on how you feel about the loan system, could either be a good thing or a bad thing), Skiverton has begun to put his stamp on the side with a mixture of experienced heads and young, hungry footballers trying to make a name for themselves in the game.
With 100 games under his belt, the next 100 will need something to aim for. Whilst a title-winning campaign or even promotion may be a bit far-fetched for the next couple seasons, it could be a simple task of ensuring the club progresses in the right direction.
A couple of 15th-place finishes and whatever this season may bring will probably count as some good consolidation. The next step has to be taking hold of a mid-table position and keeping it. With a blend of the right players and support from the green and white masses, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be achievable. Remember – the Huntingtons and Paul Wottons of the squad are contracted until the end of next season, something which should help avoid the complete overhaul of the squad that Yeovil fans have become used to over recent years.
Skiverton has had to learn fast, but has done more than admirably in his first 100 games. All managers need time and Skivo is definitely getting it. We all want the same for games 101 to 200 and even beyond – we want the 26% win rate to improve, we all want more days like Sheffield Wednesday away rather than Dagenham at home and we’d love a cup run (even the JPT would be nice).
Employing from within was a brave move by those at YTFC. It would have been easy to employ someone with experience, but who wouldn’t have as much passion for Yeovil as Skivo does in his little finger. However, as with other examples at Scunthorpe, Bournemouth and even fellow relegation scrappers Tranmere, it seems that promoting someone who knows the club inside out could be the way forward. Just think, another manager might have even done away with that ageing centre-back we’ve had so much success with over the last ten years!
Skivo and Jonesy’s Green and White Army march on and the foundations appear to have been set for another successful era at Huish Park. Congratulations Terry and Nathan – here’s to the next 100.