Nothing to Crow about during a difficult year

PUBLISHED: 12:11 04 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:57 12 May 2010

Mark Saggers

Mark Saggers

Dave Ryan looks back on a disappointing year for Royston Town Football Club JANUARY MARK Saggers slammed his Royston Town team, after they were hammered 8-0 at Aylesbury Vales. The Crows had already lost 6-0 and 7-0 this season, but their capitul

Dave Ryan looks back on a disappointing year for

Royston Town Football Club

JANUARY

MARK Saggers slammed his Royston Town team, after they were hammered 8-0 at Aylesbury Vales.

The Crows had already lost 6-0 and 7-0 this season, but their capitulation against the Ducks left Saggers fuming.

"I have never, ever, been involved in a game like that where I was so embarrassed and humiliated" he blasted.

"There was a total lack of desire and effort. We were 6-0 down at half-time, and the second half was like the Alamo.

"If it hadn't been for Barry [White] in goal they could easily have scored 15, and that's been generous to us.

"Only three players did themselves justice, and Brian Cannon [assistant manager] could have done better out there. At least we would have tried."

The Crows did bounce back three days later as veteran striker Joff Dobson came out of retirement to inspire a 3-0 victory against Haringey Borough, and they rounded off the month with a 3-2 win againt Biggleswade Town and a 4-0 loss at Broxbourne.

FEBRUARY

The month started as January had ended with, a pair of away defeats - Royston losing 8-1 at Hanwell and 1-0 at St Margaretsbury.

Boss Mark Saggers accused his side of lacking the will to win after their dismal away form continued at Hanwell.

Royston had conceded 20 goals in their last three away games, which left Saggers clearly frustrated.

"I don't know where to start" he admitted. "There was a distinct lack of desire to win a game of football.

"It's not just one thing, with a lack of money we just can't attract anyone else in. We still have enough good players to be doing better than we are.

"I can accept being beaten by a better side, but if players aren't giving 100 percent, it's just not acceptable."

Saggers singled out goalkeeper Barry White as the only player he felt was giving full commitment:

"I felt sorry for Barry, he's the only one we don't have a problem with. I'm looking for a massive improvement."

The rest of the month gave Saggers little to smile about, with only a victory against Oxhey Jets puncturing a run of losses, as Holmer Green and Langford also collected maximum points against the Crows.

A 2-2 draw against eventual champions Oxford City was the highlight of another disappointing month for the Crows.

MARCH

A 25-yard thunderbolt from Paul Lamont gave Royston a share of spoils against league leaders City. Lamont struck just before the half-time break when the high-flying visitors could only half-clear a corner, and Lamont powered the ball through a crowded box.

It was point, arguably their best of the season, that the home side deserved after twice fighting back from a goal down.

After opening the month with a 1-0 home loss against Leverstock Green, Royston bounced back to defeat Harpenden Town 3-1 thanks to goals from Joff Dobson, Ryan Cannon and Jez McMurrough before drawing with Oxford.

That was as good as it got for the Crows, however, as they finished the month with a 5-2 loss at Oxhey Jets and a 4-0 home drubbing against Tring Athletic.

APRIL

Jason Nash's first-half goal proved to be scant consolation as the Crows opened the month with a 3-1 loss at Haringey Borough, and moved perilously close to the relegation zone again.

However, goals from Lee Rogers and Martin Westcott sealed a vital 2-1 win for the Crows as they returned from Harpenden with three precious Spartan South Midlands League points the following Saturday.

But just when they thought their relegation worries were over, Joff Dobson's own goal midway through the first half cost the Crows a share of the points after a battling performance against FA Vase finalists Hillingdon the following Tuesday.

Veteran Dobson, making one of his sporadic appearances for Mark Saggers' team, headed a cross over the advancing Barry White in the 22nd minute to leave Royston fifth from bottom in the table.

A 2-1 home loss against Ruislip Manor did nothing to alleviate Saggers' relegation worries as Roiyston went into the final two games still needing three points to be sure of avoiding the drop, but the Crows boss remained relatively unconcerned.

"I'm not that worried" said Saggers, pictured above. "None of the teams at the bottom seems to be able to put a run together. We all seem to either win or lose at the same time."

Those relegation worries were finally banished in the penultimate game of the season - despite Royston losing 2-1 against Harefield United at Garden Walk. It was perhaps inevitable that when the Crows secured their place in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division it would be thanks to another team losing.

Welwyn Garden City were the team who saved the Crows from going into the final weekend with relegation hanging over their heads as they won 3-0 at Haringey Borough to send the north London side tumbling into Division One.

Certainly it would have come as a relief to Royston that their Premier Division status was confirmed, as they showed few signs of being able to save themselves as they crashed to their seventh loss in eight games.

The visitors from Middlesex looked a class above the Crows, and Ryan Cannon's late goal for the home side served only to flatter them.

MAY

Goalkeeper Barry White received the backing of both his manager and fellow players as he picked up two trophies at the club's awards night.

Despite a season of struggle for the Crows, White collected both the manager's and player' player-of-the-year trophies.

Stuart Snowden won the supporters' player-of-the-year award, while Jacquie Wilson picked up the chairman's award.

Sam Bowles emulated White by winning both the manager's and players' awards for the reserves, while in the youth side Michael Bloss won the manager's player-of-the-year trophy and James Meredith collected the players' equivalent.

Amy Walker won the manager's award in the ladies' team , while Victoria Foulger won the players' trophy, and there were also awards for Emma Chaffey, Mandy Miller and Denise Willis.

JUNE

Mark Saggers criticised Royston Town after he and his assistant Brian Cannon were sacked as the club's management team.

The Crows appointed Enfield Town coach Phil Snowden to replace Saggers, but it was the manner of his sacking which angered the former Crows boss.

"It's disappointing that they didn't tell us that they were giving the job to someone else," he said.

"You shouldn't be appointing a new manager until you've told the old one.

"I've heard the rumours for months, and all we wanted was for them to be a little more professional.

"It's no way to treat someone."

AUGUST

The Crows started the season with a 2-1 defeat against Conference South Cambridge City at Garden Walk. A good performance from Phil Snowden's new team saw Mark Farrell equalise Darren Lynch's first half goal, but Lynch had the last word with a second strike in the 65th minute. The game was marred by the dismissal of Kojo Ofori, in what proved to be a preview of the young winger's poor disciplinary record while playing for the Crows.

Royston's hopes of success in the FA Cup and Herts Charity Shield quickly evaporated as they were beaten 4-1 away from home at Harwich & Parkeston and Sawbridgeworth Town respectively. A second half fight-back had seen a pair of Ofori goals help give the Crows a 2-2 draw at Garden Walk against Harwich in the first game, but they suffered a midweek defeat in the replay.

Their Spartan South Midland League campaign started in dismal style with a 7-1 defeat at London Colney, but the month finished with a 3-3 draw against Kingsbury London Tigers - a game which saw a horror show from both defences.

The Crows conceded 20 goals in five competitive games, and the need for an adequate replacement for the now departed Barry White in goal has never been more evident.

Scott Statham, who started the season never looked comfortable before picking up an injury in the FA Cup draw with Clacton Town, and the debutant against Tigers, Desmond Asuo, while bringing off some excellent saves, would also have given Snowden some heart palpitations with a series of blunders.

SEPTEMBER

The cup woes continued for the Crows as they went out of both the FA Vase and the league cup.

The Crows' season sunk to a new low in the league cup as they were hammered 4-1 by an AFC Dunstable side two leagues beneath them.

To make matters worse for the boss Phil Snowden, he saw a second player in as many games sent off - Ofori having managed another red card in the home loss against Leverstock Green, following the late dismissal of defender Allan Reid after a late tackle, and keeper Scott Statham was taken off injured midway through the second half.

Dunstable arrived at Garden Walk lying fourth in Division Two, with 10 points from their first five games, but such is the gulf in standard between the two leagues the Crows should easily have progressed to the second round.

The Vase game at home against Ruislip Manor brought little joy for Snowden's beleaguered team as a pair of Mickey Swaysland goals saw the visitors comfortably progress in a game where Royston never looked capable of avoiding defeat.

The 3-1 home loss against Tring Athletic saw Ofori dismissed for the third time during the campaign, again for violent conduct, and Royston finished the game with nine men after skipper Stuart Snowden picked up a second yellow card.

Having picked up just one point from their first four league games of the month, a visit to fellow strugglers Biggleswade Town saw the Crows finally break their league duck with a 3-1 victory.

Dave McMurrough gave Royston the lead after just 14 seconds, and he added a second, with Ely Kitenge also on target to give the Crows a much needed boost.

That proved to be as good as it got in a poor month for Royston, with September ending with a 4-2 home loss against Welwyn Garden City.

OCTOBER

Ryan Redford was on target five times for Hertford Town as Royston were hammered 7-1 at high-flying Hertford Town.

Phil Snowden's team let in five goals during the opening 45 minutes as they slumped to 18th in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division.

Although three half-time substitutions by Snowden steadied the visitors, the second half mini-revival seemed to owe more to Hertford being content to sit back and soak up the pressure, than any real recovery from the Crows.

The month proved to be a roller-coaster ride for Town; They bounced back from that loss with a 4-0 win at Langford as Lee Rogers hit a hat-trick against his old club, and also gained another key league win with a 3-1 victory at home against Oxhey Jets.

However, they were stuffed 6-1 at Ruislip Manor and went out of the county cup following a 6-0 loss at St Albans City.

Mickey Swaysland continued his good goalscoring run against the Crows as he hit four in Manor's win against them.

Defending continued to be Royston's main problem as they conceded 23 goals in six games, and they also saw their Premier Division Cup hopes come to an end at Oxhey Jets as they departed from their fifth cup competition at the first hurdle.

NOVEMBER

This proved to be truly a month of two halves for the Crows. The first three games all ended in defeat, with Royston's defensive frailties continuing as they let in12 goals.

The losses, against Biggleswade United and Haringey Borough saw Phil Snowden's team drop back into the bottom four of the table, and there was more red card woe for Royston.

Goalkeeper Chris Chambers and Danny Miles were both off in the 2-0 home loss against Biggleswade, bringing the total number of red cards for the Crows to eight this season, as they finished a game with nine men for the second time this campaign.

Worse followed three days later as a depleted Crows' team lost 5-1 at fellow strugglers Haringey, with only a James Lavelle goal to show for their efforts.

Dave McMurrough also saw red as the Crows went down 5-2 at St Margaretsbury - with the sides level at 2-2 before McMurrough was sent off.

Allan Reid's 30-yard screamer ended the Crows' six-game losing streak, as they defeated Broxbourne 3-2 in an exciting game which had been dominated by the visiting team before Royston produced a fine second half display to take the points with the last kick of the game.

That win obviously gave the Crows confidence, as they followed up with a 2-1 victory against a London Colney side who have traditionally been a bogey team for Royston.

Jez McMurrough was on target twice for Phil Snowden's team as they moved up to 17th in the table.

The month was rounded off with a goalless draw at Chalfont St Peter, with Gregg Jackson doing a fine job as a stand-in keeper as Russell Jones went off injured at half-time.

DECEMBER

The month opened with a 1-1 draw at another bogey team, Holmer Green, thanks to a Carl Edwards goal, and they made it three draws on the spin as they were held 2-2 at home by bottom side Biggleswade Town. Carl Edwards was again on target, but it took an 89th minute penalty from skipper Stuart Snowden to rescue the point.

Royston's five match unbeaten run - their best streak of the year - came to a juddering halt the following Saturday as the Crows returned from a trip to Harefield with a 6-0 drubbing.

Trailing 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining, Stuart Snowden saw a penalty controversially saved as the home keeper appeared to move before the kick was taken, and as the visitors' heads dropped, Harefield added five goals in the final eight minutes.

The year did, at least, end on a high, as goals from Edwards and Allan Reid saw them wrap up 2006 with a 2-0 home win against Aylesbury Vale.

Gregg Jackson again made a cameo appearance between the sticks as Chris Chambers was carried off late in the game to send the Crows into 2007 lying 17th in the table - eight points clear of the drop zone.

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