After our exhilarating victory against Sutton Common Rovers, much of the talk understandably centred around Ross Allen’s perfect last-second finish. But equally the media seemed nostalgic for our island’s horticultural heyday, judging by the praise lavished on our very own Guernsey Toms! We had to ketchup [sorry, couldn’t resist! – Ed] with Thomas Dodds, who has now notched up over 150 appearances for Guernsey FC.
I was pleased to reach 150 appearances for GFC at home against Tooting and Mitcham, it’s a good personal milestone. The result was disappointing though. I thought we played a bit better than we did on the Saturday when we lost 3-0 away, but we go into every game obviously trying to get a positive result, so it wasn’t a great match again losing 2-0.
I think we are still playing catch-up slightly on the other teams in terms of the number of games played and minutes in the legs, but also we’ve got a lot of new faces this season, and we’re still learning to play together as a team. I think it was a step in the right direction and hopefully we can keep improving from here on.
Going into the next game, there was a fair bit of pressure on the squad, not having won the two games before, plus we were missing Jamie Dodd and Jacob Fallaize at the back.
Ideally you need players like Doddie and Jacob, those sort of real leaders in tough moments, but as for the game itself, I felt it was very much a level, even game. Then when the red card came, I think everyone stepped up and was a leader in their own right in different ways, and that leadership and hard work is what ended up giving us a chance to get at least a draw, and then thankfully we managed to snatch the win right at the end.
I think quite often when a sending off happens, it can galvanise a team. It can be quite hard when a team goes down to ten men to make inroads and break them down, but by the same token it can go the other way, heads can go down and gaps can appear. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we ground out a win, and you earn your luck sometimes. One week you can be down, the next week you can be up, so we’ve just got to take that forward now.
On the Saturday, as I said I was quite down. Obviously, I want the team to do well but I didn’t feel I did myself justice then either, and I normally always pride myself on trying to do that. Actually at the start of the trip to Sutton Common Rovers, Steve spoke to me and Vauds before the game and quite a lot of it was about keeping a clean sheet and focusing on defending, so that was all I was thinking really - just don’t let them get in, don’t let them score, throw yourself in front of it! We left it late, but I tend to think you always get one chance in a game, and luckily Ross was there to tuck it away. It was a great performance from everyone, and we were buzzing at the end of it.
I think for us to manage to hold out and then actually nick it at the end should give everyone a real lift and bring the team together even more. It’s something we can use to build on. It’s only early in the season still but hopefully we can now start picking up a few more positive results.
Looking ahead to Leatherhead, they were the pre-season favourites to win the league, perhaps because they were relegated from the division above. They’ve got a big playing budget, plus they’ve got Dave Tarpey who we’ve played before, yet they’ve had a fairly indifferent start, but with the squad they’ve got and the budget they’ve got, they’re going to be a tough test.
It’s the same for us as players and for the management really in that we often don’t have a huge idea about who we’re playing from one week to the next because of the mobility of players at this level on the mainland. Even with the teams we’ve played already, when we play them again in the reverse fixture, they’ll probably have almost half a new squad or whatever! That makes it quite a challenge, in that you go into every game trying to prepare as best you can, but you don’t quite know what you’re going to be facing, so we’ll just prepare as normal and go in expecting a very tough game, which I’m sure it will be.
You asked me to pick my stand-out moments from among my 150 appearances, and I think making my debut for GFC was probably a moment that I’ll always remember. That was actually in the FA Cup going into extra time, and although we lost, I think the occasion is something that will always stick out for me. Then you have other moments like my first goal, those sort of things. There have been ups and downs on the way but some of the best moments have been towards the end of the season when we’ve had to get a result to stay in the league. I remember the Sittingbourne away game; I think it was on the last day of the season. We were 2-0 down, but we needed a result and got it back to 2-2. That was also a brilliant memorable occasion, securing the point we needed to avoid relegation.
I’m often asked if I have a target for the season in terms of scoring goals, but I really don’t. I always say that if I’m playing in midfield then it is something that I like to try and add to my game a little bit, even if it’s just to chip in one or two here and there. I think a lot of it for me is probably the confidence to get forward and make those sorts of runs, but my game doesn’t revolve around goals as such, it’s definitely more the other side of the game I look at. I can’t deny though that I enjoy scoring and it would be nice to chip in with one or two.
Somebody who has scored a goal in preseason was Tom Vaudin, and I think he’s started his first season with us really well. I think I said in a previous interview that coming into the season I’m not too sure I had ever played in the same team as him, or even played against him, despite both growing up in Guernsey football, so he was a bit of an unknown for me. I think he’s adapted pretty seamlessly to playing at this level. He’s got a great attitude. He’s really willing to learn and put in the effort to improve himself as a player, and he’s put in some great performances so far. I can only see him getting better as the season goes on and having a big future with the club.