Advertisements

A season of change

It was another season at the Wessex Stadium that had it all.

Sackings, boardroom re-shuffles, off-the-field rows and plenty of heartache for the long-suffering supporters.

But despite all the trouble down at Radipole Lane, the Terras very nearly overcame all their problems to reach the Conference South play-offs.

Weymouth were only denied a place in the end-of-season promotion lottery on the final day, having enjoyed a dramatic upturn in fortunes once Garry Hill was appointed manager.

A superb late run of results made you wonder what would have happened had the former Hornchurch boss been installed before March.

The end of season optimism was in stark contrast to the opening few months of the season when fans even contemplated the threat of relegation.

That was a complete contrast with thoughts last August.

After a busy summer of signings under Steve Claridge, the Terras came back down to earth with a mighty bump.

They failed to win any of their first three league games, including a shock opening day home defeat to Cambridge City.

After six games, Claridge’s side was languishing in 18th place with just two points to their name.

Struggle

Chairman Ian Ridley quit after a power struggle with owner Martyn Harrison, prompting a high-profile slanging match between the pair over the coming months on the club’s unofficial message board.

The bad blood culminated in November’s annual general meeting when Ridley published a dossier detailing hotelier Harrison’s business affairs.

On the field, Weymouth continued to struggle to live up to expectations although league results were starting to pick up by the time Claridge was sacked following a shock FA Cup exit at minnows Thame United in October.

Skipper Paul Buckle was appointed caretaker-manager who guided his side to a string of decent results.

But the midfielder was fuming after being over-looked for the job in favour of Steve Johnson who released Buckle after a bust-up between the pair. Johnson immediately set about offloading many of Claridge’s big earners, replacing them with younger players.

His first major signing was former Yeovil Town striker Kirk Jackson who went on to net 10 league goals.

M Results under Johnson were initially good as the Terras rose to eighth, on the verge of the play-offs at Christmas.

But things started to come off the rails following an embarrassing 4-1 Boxing Day thrashing at rivals Dorchester Town.

Set-piece specialist Danny Byrne’s late winner at Basingstoke fired Weymouth to sixth but it was all downhill for Johnson’s men after that. The slide began with a 3-0 home reversal against Welling, as the Terras started a run in which they took only one point from six games.

Johnson was eventually fired by Harrison just hours after sending loanees Nicolas Mirza and Kezie The back to parent club Yeovil Town and Gary Borthwick stood in for one game.

Suddenly all the thoughts around the Wessex were whether Weymouth, now just seven points above the drop zone, could survive.

But from the moment former Dagenham and Redbridge boss Hill was appointed, those worries quickly disappeared.

The new era opened with a win at Maidenhead United, aided by excellent performances by recalled duo Chukki Eribenne and Shaun Wilkinson who were both farmed out on loan under Johnson.

Hill swooped to sign Grays striker Vill Powell on loan and the powerful forward netted some vital goals as the Terras swiftly moved up the table.

Victories over Hornchurch, Bognor, Hayes and Sutton left Weymouth with an outside chance of reaching the play-offs going into their final day clash with St Albans.

Although Brian Dutton’s goal gave the hosts a narrow win, the three points were not enough for Hill’s outfit.

Now as the Terras prepare to move full-time from July, hopes are high the super-confident ex-Dagenham boss is the man to lead his side back to the Conference National.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisements