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Buzz of play-offs is goal worth striving for
9:00am Wednesday 15th April 2009 in Sport
YOU can’t beat the adrenalin rush of competing in the play-offs and that’s what I want Worcester City to aim for next season.
I am disappointed where we have dropped to in the league in recent weeks and it proves what can happen if you are not on your mettle throughout the season.
We have only been soundly beaten three or four times this campaign and the rest of the games we have had chances in but we haven’t been clinical in front of goal or professional enough defensively.
However, the play-offs are something to strive for and I have missed that.
During the 1999/2000 campaign while I was with Southampton in the Premier League, I was loaned to Stoke City and ended up playing at Wembley and in a play-off semi-final.
Firstly, we beat Bristol City in the Auto Windscreens Shield, which was nice for me given that I didn’t have a very good time when I was at Bristol earlier in my career.
Then we played Gillingham in the play-offs in what would now be League One and it was brilliant. We were 3-1 up with two minutes to go in the first leg, looking comfortable, and then Gillingham’s Andy Hessenthaler hit one in from 30 yards and it made the second leg totally different.
We went to their place trying to protect what we had but ended up having two players sent off in the first-half and went on to lose 4-3 on aggregate after extra-time.
That was the end of the season for us but the adrenalin that goes through your body is something I had never experienced before and that’s what we have got to strive for at St George’s Lane next year.
It’s great winning the league — I did that with Exeter in the old Division Four in 1990 — but it must be great winning promotion over 90 minutes at a ground like Wembley or the Britannia Stadium.
If you don’t get excited about those games you shouldn’t be a footballer.
The play-offs are probably the best thing that has happened in English football in the last 15 or 20 years, apart from the back-pass rule.
However, in order to achieve that aim we need to improve on the pitch. Although we started well we have fallen away badly and next year I want to be up there challenging to the end of the season.
Whether on a small or large budget, if we can get the right players in and be consistent we have got a chance.
This season has been a learning curve for the likes of Matt Dinsmore, Shabir Khan and Gary Walker and Jack Connolly couldn’t believe the difference between our league and academy football. It’s a lot more hustle and bustle.
Jack did really well against Weston-super-Mare and Bath City. It’s a massive step up and you don’t make that step straight away unless you are a very special player — he’s done very well.
He’s like a little clone of Matt Dinsmore, they are both the same style of player.
I am continuing to talk to players for the new campaign but there’s no rush as there will be plenty looking for clubs.
With the recession, most clubs are cutting back. Players might laugh in the face of some offers but I think some will be in for a shock.