Wednesday, 25 May 2011

More good news

They say things happen in threes, and it's been the case for us Cheltenham Town fans today.
We have had a contract extension, a youth prospect turning professional and the return of competitive reserve team football to the club after two years.
Taking them one by one, the extension to Danny Andrew's deal is very good news - although Danny does polarise opinion.
Mark Yates didn't take long to bring Danny in on loan from Peterborough when he became Robins manager, having previously loaned him when he was in charge at Kidderminster.
We were been spoiled at left back in the past, with Jamie Victory coming up through the leagues with us, and it has been a bit of a problem position since he retired.
We have had such luminaries as Michael Simpkins, Alan Morgan and Michael Rose try and fail to play there, while Lee Ridley had some good games and his fair share of shockers in his time with us.
So now Danny has the chance to make the position his own and help us to finally put Jamie's memory to bed - but last season his form was patchy.
Going forward, there are no problems, his crosses from wide areas and corners got us a few goals, and he scored four himself from free kicks against Aldershot, Torquay, Wycombe and Lincoln.
But defensively he struggled at times - as seemingly team after team faced Cheltenham with a deadly right winger deployed to give Danny hell down his flank.
It has to be said that on many occasions he did not get much help from the player ahead of him, be that Josh Low, Junior Smikle or Frankie Artus, who seemed to go missing and were not keen on tracking back.
But at 20, Danny is like Marlon Pack, still learning and capable of huge iumprovement.
Whether he will eventually be a Gareth Bale-style left winger we will have to see - but talk that Yates has been after a left back may give that idea some credence.
What the club have done with this deal is to make sure he cannot be allowed to walk away for nothing, which has to be applauded.

The second piece of news is the confirmation that Ethan Moore, our 25-goal youth team striker, will join the professional ranks.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Rock and a hard place, Moore has, already at 18, had a chequered footballing past.
I will repeat it here rather than force you to scroll through it...
Moore was at Cheltenham as an unpaid trainee having left Aston Villa under something of a cloud.
I have never really got to the bottom of it, but the tale is either of homesickness or a fall-out with some of the coaching staff - but whatever... it is to Cheltenham's advantage.
Someone at the club described him to me as 'a complex character' and the Villa history might bear that out, but Yates sees him as a risk worth taking - and considering Villa paid money at 15 to take him from Southampton there is something there.
In the games I have seen him play, Moore has shown himself to be a strong player, direct and a good finisher. He also has an aggressive 'Rooney-like' streak in him - a bit of a rough diamond if you like - so I get the impression that it will be interesting watching if he gets into the first-team reckoning.

Two things struck me from the quotes on the website.
The first was Moore's quote, setting himself a target of 10 goals.
If he gets 10 goals next season, that will be a massive bonus, and it shows that he has confidence in himself, always a good thing, and is backing himself to be able to make the step up.
The other was Yates' comment which says Moore will be one of four strikers next season.
Assuming Wes Thomas is gone, that will leave us with Jeff Goulding and Moore, and means that we have two more yet to come...

Finally, the very welcome return of reserve team football.
Now, it may be sad, but I love reserve games.
It takes me back to Steve Cotterill's time, when we would watch games, then he would hold court in the Nest until two or three in the morning putting the footballing world to rights and telling us all exactly what he thought of other managers...
Indeed, we were once thrown out of Worcester City's ground at 1am after a 4-3 win in which two of our goals were scored by two on-trial Portuguese waiters from Bristol. Couldn't make it up - and I am not.
I have seen Sasa Curcic, John Sutton, Ally Pickering, Anwar Uddin, Ray Wallace and other assorted terrible and tubby triallists turn out for our stiffs - and an unbelievable Fulham side at Whaddon Road with Karl-Heinz Reidle leading the attack.
Our former manager, in 2009, pulled us out of the reserve league and I feel it is no coincidence that we have struggled terribly since then.
We have been left to arrange occasional friendlies instead and it has been no substitute.
There is no way for fringe players or those coming back from injury to get match practice and I think this could prove to be one of the best moves the club has managed in recent times.