Monday, September 10, 2012

Dropping a division

Phil Jevons
Phil Jevons, Hyde FC hat trick hero on Saturday

Form is temporary, class is permanent, so the saying goes. One of my earliest memories of following Blackburn Rovers as a kid is the different reactions to older players joining the club on the downslopes of their career. John Radford, ex-Arsenal, used to get dog's abuse for his lack of goals, while the crowd were far more forgiving of Duncan Mackenzie. Some are perceived to be living off past glories and picking up a meal ticket, others bring a new exciting dimension and valuable experience.

What must it be like for a player realising his pace and fitness has dropped, but he still wants to keep on playing. To do so, he drops a division so he can be effective. Sometimes the pressure can be greater than when playing in a higher league. The game is different and so therefore are expectations.

I was thinking of this on Saturday when I went to see Hyde play at home to Hereford. The Tigers have found it tough in the Conference, having won the Conference North last season. To bolster the promoted side they signed Phil Jevons. I saw him play against both Barrow and Southport and felt for him. I also felt for his strike partner Scott Spencer, who banged them in last term, but had an equally barren start to the season. Their runs weren't being picked up - I sensed Jevons had some clever flicks but Spencer wasn't seeing them. Both were getting bullied a bit too.

Well, on Saturday it all came together. Jevons got a hat trick and Spencer scored a wondergoal. The interplay between them was excellent. In fact, once Jevons got his first it looked like he'd score every time he had the ball at his feet. Confidence is everything.

There are lots of examples around the divisions of players who've made the transition, up or down, and we'll certainly be bearing all this in mind as judges of the North West Football Awards this year - it's the mark of a quality player how they respond to change.

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