FANS' ZONE 11/02/2021
WILL THE SEASON CONTINUE AS THE GULLS REMAIN ON TRACK FOR A LEAGUE AND CUP DOUBLE?
News was filtering out over the weekend that the results of the 66 clubs’ ( will Wrexham vote or not?) voting on the four resolutions could be known this week. From those who have declared so far it’s certainly looking as if National North & South will be ending their seasons - as an indicator only six matches across the two divisions were played on Saturday when fixtures resumed, while on Tuesday no team in National North played although four fixtures were fulfilled in South.
Predictions for the fate of National Premier are not so clear as only a handful of clubs have publicly declared their intentions with Altrincham, Chesterfield, Hartlepool, Notts County and Sutton voting to continue and one assumes United too judging by comments attributed to Gary Johnson while Dover and King’s Lynn want the season to end.
Last week’s column revealed that all National League clubs were likely to be given free Covid testing kits. The NL board is now set to ratify this so that all clubs will be provided with twice-weekly lateral flow tests.
In recent months this column has brought to your attention the growing clamour for football to tackle the ‘dementia scandal’. According to stories in the national press, football’s governing bodies are preparing to make England the first country to formally limit heading in professional training as part of a wide-ranging strategy.
Guidelines are being formulated to limit “inappropriate prolonged heading sessions.” Heading for primary aged children was banned last year and now the FA is working with the professional leagues in the men’s and women’s games to establish heading guidance. Last week trials for permanent concussion substitutes began across English football with trials in the Premier League, the Women’s Super League & Championship and in this week’s FA Cup.
There is, though, disquiet in some quarters as many want to have temporary subs as is used in rugby while the player is assessed.
West Ham’s Issa Diop became football’s first player to be removed for a permanent concussion substitution on Tuesday night, but only after he was initially judged not to have shown concussion symptoms to continue until half-time.
Following this, the argument is had temporary subs been allowed Diop would have gone off and not been allowed to carry on until being assessed, for allowing him to play on may well have exacerbated his injury.
Seems the new rule needs a re-assessment already.
Not the most fluid of displays at Southport on Saturday in the FA Trophy but job done, £6,000 banked and into the Quarter Finals with another away tie against Woking as the reward at the end of the month, after a League game at Woking this Saturday, should the pitch be playable. It was another clean sheet and with the Yellow Army ‘watching’ contributing to Southport’s record streaming figures.
So the Gulls remain on track for Gary Johnson’s hopes of a League & Cup double. But Tuesday’s late, late Billy Waters’ goal salvaged a point against managerless Wealdstone as United fielded the only 15 players available for selection.
Whilst grounds have been deprived of spectators during the various lockdowns, some interesting stats have emerged centering around the number of away wins - in the Premier League there has never been a higher proportion of away wins in the history of the top-flight football - 41%. In the National League, the two previous seasons 2018-19 and 2019-20 recorded 32% away wins each time but this season so far away wins have risen to 38%.
There are a number of theories as to why, amongst them are the absence of fans. Are home teams missing the motivation that comes with playing in front of their own supporters? Or are away teams playing with more freedom without the intimidation of home fans? Or could this manager be right?
Following his side’s second home defeat, now three, he said, ”We looked really like we were not fresh enough mentally and physically …. there were a lot of moments where we gave the ball away too easily. In the moments the boys looked tired mentally.”
Which manager said this? Gary Johnson after that disappointing defeat to Altrincham? No, although it could quite easily have been, it was, in fact, Jurgen Klopp.
It’s worth reflecting on the relentless number of matches being played, United have played twice a week cramming in 26 League & Cup games in 17 weeks lessening player recovery times.
TUST hosted the recent Devon Supporters’ Trusts Group (DSTG) meeting at which we were joined by representatives from supporters’ trusts from Bristol City, Hereford United and Yeovil Town.
As a result the original group consisting of TUST, Exeter City ST and Argyle Fans’ Trust, has now been expanded to include the other three to form the re-named South-West Supporters’ Trust Group (SWSTG).
Many thanks to the Yellow Army for signing the National League petition at: chng.it/2jrr7p95 and with numbers heading past 8,500 there’s still time to sign with 10,000 the next target.
Last week’s ‘Three Word Fun’ brought in ‘Johnson’s Winning Team’ and ‘Keep It Going’ but the best was Michel from Torquay with ‘Yellows Shine Light’.
This week how about three words to sum up your feelings to describe the impact of Captain Sir Tom Moore to: email@example.com or Twitter: @FanszoneT.
To the Yellow Army stay safe - and get your vaccination.