December blues for Bloaters

WHAT is it about December and the Great Yarmouth first team these days? In Bill Punton's last season at the Wellesley, 1989-90, his side won seven and drew the other in an eight-game unbeaten run in the month.

WHAT is it about December and the Great Yarmouth first team these days?

In Bill Punton's last season at the Wellesley, 1989-90, his side won seven and drew the other in an eight-game unbeaten run in the month.

But looking back through the 18 seasons since, Yarmouth have never had a more than moderately successful month, writes Gerry Brown.

The best were 2002-03 and 1996-97 when they returned three wins from seven games each time. Twice they have not won a single game in the month, and eight times only one win has been achieved.

Overall in this period, out of 93 games played only 26 have been won. Over such a long time, this is a significantly poor return.

December 2008 has started in similar vein, with two defeats from two played.

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Last week's loss, to fourth from bottom Downham Town, was unexpected, especially as it was the first in Wellesley league games this season. The weather conditions were atrocious, but for both teams.

“You have to give credit to both teams for giving it a go in the horrendous conditions,” said joint manager Paul Tong.

“Some of our lads were not quite 100 per cent fit and well, but they insisted on going ahead. And though they showed tremendous commitment and effort, Downham wanted it more on the day - and deserved it for their efforts.

“We didn't take advantage of the wind in the first half and Downham battled like tigers. Ironically, we played better in the second half against the weather and had our best spell after they scored. But after we equalised, we got caught by a sucker-punch, and all credit to Downham for their performance.”

The Bloaters take on Stowmarket Town tomorrow (Wellesley, 3), a team that has risen from some early depths and has won its last four games.

Then comes the Big One on Boxing Day when Gorleston entertain Yarmouth for the first of this season's derby clashes (Emerald Park, 11).

“It's the one the players and supporters always look forward to more than anything, and with Gorleston flying high at the moment it will be a tough game,” commented Tong,

“Some of the youngsters will have already felt the derby atmosphere from their Youth League matches, but the senior fixture should hoist the experience to new levels, especially with the crowd so close to the action at Emerald Park.

“Other than Newmarket, Gorleston are the best side I have seen this season,” Tong added. “Winning breeds belief and they have that in abundance at the moment. But, hey, in derby games form can go out the window!”

It will be the 151st league match between the borough rivals with Gorleston holding a slight edge in terms of overall wins. In this 21st century, Gorleston have so far the better record, Yarmouth having just two wins (both in the away fixture) and Gorleston ten in all competitions with six matches drawn. Last season the teams drew 3-3 in the Easter derby at Emerald Park.

Eden Rudling's Reserves helped themselves to a six-goal feast at Thetford Rovers to progress in the Junior Knockout Cup. Mark Thompson had his fill with a hat-trick to add to goals by Darren Patterson, Fernando Vide and an opponent in the 6-3 victory. Patterson has scored in 12 of the 14 Reserve games in which he has played.

The Youth U18 side is unbeaten so far this season - except by the weather! Tuesday's game was postponed as damage from the first team game on Saturday could not be repaired in time and it was the fifth in their last seven games to be disrupted. Their next scheduled match is on Thursday, January 8 when they are due to visit Norwich United. This is followed by the re-arranged Youth Cup tie with Lowestoft on the next Thursday, January 15 at the Wellesley.

Joint manager Mark Scales said about the postponements: “Although very disappointing there's not a lot we can do about it. Realistically, the Wroxham game always looked as though it would be called off after the game on Saturday went ahead. In fact the groundsman, despite rolling it, said the pitch was the worst he'd seen it when he inspected it on Tuesday. Looking on the bright side we are going to have plenty of action in the New Year and whilst the boys have not seen much football of late, it will most probably benefit us more playing on a better surface.”

Wayne Hunter's U9 team are continuing the youth success theme with an undefeated record also this season. Their latest victims were Bohemians whom they defeated 12-0 last Sunday! The squad of Owen Copeland, Kyle Haylock, Bobby Jex, Archie Wallace, Callum Aizlewood, Callum Oliver, Thomas Sims and Thomas Hunter are demonstrating some excellent ability and technique week by week. This Sunday morning they can be seen in action at Lynn Grove against Gorleston Rangers A.