Crows are back in the game
THEY say that football is a game of two halves. Well that was certainly the case for Royston Town s season of ups, downs, and twists and turns. After being relegated from the Premier Division, the 2007/08 campaign started poorly for The Crows, and for a w
THEY say that football is a game of two halves. Well that was certainly the case for Royston Town's season of ups, downs, and twists and turns.
After being relegated from the Premier Division, the 2007/08 campaign started poorly for The Crows, and for a while it looked like an embarrassing second successive relegation was on the cards.
The likeable Phil Snowden seemed to have taken the club as far as he could, which included the second round of the FA Vase - the furthest the club had been in years.
His side certainly showed glimpses of promise, but in having players often unavailable, and a long injury list, a lack of stability was always going to be a problem.
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Snowden had the nucleus of a decent team, and if his better players had been available week-in-week-out, then he would have probably lifted Royston from the early doldrums.
Nicky Morgan, Bradley Poole, and Bruno Condutto were potential match winners, and three players that current manager Paul Attfield would have liked to have had at his disposal.
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But for one reason or another, Snowden couldn't hold them down, and was forced to chop and change his side.
As a result, The Crows never had the cohesion to get their season up and running, and the time came for a change.
And some change it was. Snowden resigned, and out went stalwarts Lee Rogers and Stuart Snowden, keeper James Scott, Albert Adudonyianah, Seb Ndombe, David Daniels, and Eddie Julu.
All replaced in a makeover that Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would have been proud of, as new manager Paul Attfield brought in a number of his former Buntingford Town players.
But as the first half of the season was underlined by poor results and a continual flux, the second half became a platform for a 17-game unbeaten league run and a period of much-needed solidity.
First-team regulars Carl Edwards, Peter Chappell, and in particular Allan Reid, were given a new lease of life, and alongside talented youngsters such as Tom Malins, Luke Robins, Lewis Endacott, Damion Williamson, and David Cain, Attfield transformed Royston into a team with a winning mentality - where demoralising defeats were soon replaced by convincing victories.
However, come the final day of the season, there was not a league title or promotion place to celebrate, as by early April their push had taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
However, what was evident more than anything else, was the fact that despite the promotion fallback, a team of enormous talent had been born, and the foundations of a very good squad set firmly in place.
Perhaps most impressive of all was The Crows' ability in front of goal, as Royston showed their killer instinct by finishing the season as the league's joint highest goalscorers, with 92 goals.
And, although not wanting to sound like a cheesy game show host, in football goals win points, and points win prizes. And that is something that Attfield's side have in abundance.
In Craig Hammond, Royston have one of the best players around, and a striker who became the scourge of South Midlands League defences.
While their form in putting the ball in the net grabbed most of the headlines, The Crows also boasted the second-best defensive record of 44 goals - a figure that would have been considerably less had Cain, Endacott, Chappell, and Mark Babbage been playing together from the start of the season.
And that defensive unit is sure to be just as important come next season, as Attfield looks to mount a serious challenge for the title.
But perhaps his biggest problem will be keeping this talented crop of players, with the likes of Hammond, Reid, Robins, and Endacott sure to have drawn the attention of the bigger clubs.
Next season promises to be an interesting one, and The Crows should be the favourites for Premier Division promotion.
Come August, having gained some valuable experience, this young side will be a lot wiser.
And as long as the club can keep everyone together, the 2008/09 season promises more than just a cuddly toy.