Future is bright at the Wellesley

Great Yarmouth Town FC by Gerry Brown

Things are looking up and looking bright at Wellesley Road after some dark times in December.

On Saturday, Yarmouth beat an experienced and powerful Wisbech Town side, and did it in front of their best league gate since August — other recent gates have seen increases too, and the fledgling Supporters’ Association has had a part to play in that.

During the afternoon, the club hierarchy revealed that two of the Bloaters’ rising stars, Jake Reed and Dominic Smith, have signed new contracts, with two others close to being tied up.

Chairman Steve Brierley this week explained the work going on behind the scenes to secure the future of Great Yarmouth Town.

“The club is 100 per cent safe but needs new guidelines for the future,” he said this week.

“Part of this is to secure the rising stars from the young players: Dom and Jake have now signed new contracts and this shows their loyalty to the club, and Stuart (vice-chairman Stuart Griffin) and I appreciate them both for this.

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“But this is part of why we came on board with the club, to see youth come through the system. And it’s working — we fielded one of the youngest sides in years two weeks ago.”

Brierley stressed that they were not looking to sell players, unless they were unhappy.

“Then we will sit down and try to work things out. If we can’t, then its time to go our separate ways.”

One contract player has been put out to offer. Goalkeeper Michael Hilton has expressed the desire to move on, but there is also movement into the club, and manager Paul Tong was on

Saturday able to include a first senior signing since the season began.

James Page, 20, from Reepham Town was known to Tong from his Norwich City Academy days but on this occasion the contact was made through new assistant manager Shane Lutkin, who previously managed the north Norfolk club.

“James is a quality player who can play in a variety of positions; he’s got height, is solid in the tackle and is great at long-range passing,” said Tong who hinted that other signings were being sought.

Page certainly did a more than useful job at right back in the second half against Wisbech after dropping back to allow Luke Fell to get forward, with Fell then supplying the pass to Reed which ultimately led to the Scott Woodcock penalty which brought the Bloaters back to 1-1; Woodcock then went on to score the winner.

?Tomorrow, Yarmouth will be looking to add to their impressive away points tally with a trip to Debenham LC whom they beat 4-0 at the Wellesley three weeks ago.

Yarmouth are on 37 points and Tong believes 42 will be enough to ensure his minimum target of Premier Division survival for next season.

In fact, this looks a generous points target as in the last seven seasons, the most points needed to avoid a relegation position has been 40 (in 2006-07), and in the past two seasons 35 points enabled a finish above the bottom three, though in neither of those were all three teams relegated because of other factors.

?Team strengthening is also taking place within the Reserves and U18s with some former youth players returning to the Bloaters.

Last week’s reserves game at Debenham LC was called off, along with many other games in that part of the region, because of a waterlogged pitch.

Tomorrow they have a home game, with Leiston visiting the Wellesley (kick-off 3pm). The U18s won 2-0 at Dereham on Tuesday. They play their penultimate game at Norwich United’s Plantation Park ground in Blofield against Harford Tornadoes on Thursday (kick-off 7.45pm).

If they win their last two games they have a good chance of finishing second in the Eastern Division.

Sunday results: Ladies v Swanton won 5-1, Men v El Sol lost 5-2, U11s v Ransomes U11 lost 3-0, U14 v Ransomes U14 postponed, U16 v Kirkley & Pakefield W 1-0 (to put them in their U14 cup final against Burrage Centurions).

Fixtures: Ladies v Coltishall Jaguars (away), Men v Acle Wanderers (away), U11 v Caister (away), U14 v Ransomes (cup, away), U16 v Gorleston Rangers (away).

Before Saturday’s game, retiring referee Glenn Hambling was appluaded onto the pitch by both teams and after the game received a presentation from Bloaters’ manager Paul Tong, who praised his contribution to the sport.