There was much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth ten years ago – on November 18, 2007, to be precise – when only 4,408 fans turned up to watch Gillingham play at Huish Park in the Football League.
We were assured that the lowest gate in Yeovil Town’s brief history in the big League was because of heavy rain, plus the fact that Sky televised the game live. It was anticipated that the figure would soon climb back to the average of between six and 7,000 which marked the Glovers’ first three seasons after promotion from the Conference.
Last Tuesday officials would have greeted a repeat of that modest Gillingham attendance with some joy.
Just 2,205 saw Yeovil’s 2-2 draw with Morecambe. Once again it was the lowest League attendance ever recorded. It was 13th time in the last ten years that reporters have had to record “the match was watched by the lowest ever crowd at Huish Park” or words to that effect.
When the current season started, the all-time low was 2,749. This dropped to 2,464 when Accrington came to town after Yeovil’s 8-2 opening day defeat at Luton. Take another 200 off that figure in the week and the question has to be asked: “Where will it all end?”
Tuesday’s plummeting gate was widely forecast. Yeovil had revealed for the first time that season-ticket sales had dropped to 1,534, down about 400 in a year. The fare served up, plus the foul weather, was hardly attracting casual supporters, and hardly anyone came from Morecambe.
One man I met in the town earlier in the day predicted that he would be the only official from Lancashire to travel with the club, and wondered whether he would be better off at Taunton watching the Somerset versus Lancashire cricket.
Yeovil officials, putting a brave face on things, say they have been listening to supporters and that the newly-issued bundles of six and 12-match tickets have been well supported.
So, accepting things are not right, what can be done?
Young manager Darren Way has been busting a gut, if you’ll excuse the phrase, to keep the boat afloat. He signed 13 players in the summer, many on two-year contracts.
They include some very good ones and any fan who can look 12 months into the future can probably see better days.
Performances have certainly been inconsistent. An excellent victory against Coventry, when Yeovil looked capable of beating anyone in the League, was followed by some indifferent displays when two-goal leads (at Forest Green and then at home to Morecambe) were thrown away.
One positive reaction was to appoint Steve Phillips, the ex-Bristol City and Rovers man, as goalkeeping coach.
The testimony of current glove-man Artur Krysiak is that it is already bearing fruit.
For what its worth, I believe Way is someone who can take the club forward, but he needs experienced help on and off the field.
Would his team have frittered away so many early points if Darren Ward had not run out of years and fitness?
The ex-Millwall veteran showed his organisational ability at the back, and anyone could see how youngsters lapped up his advice be- fore he had to call it a day and concentrate on his cats home.
And Way himself has lamented over the lack of experienced advisers on the touchline.
Apart from his long time mate, assistant Terry Skiverton, there seems to no-one to step in with advice while matches are in progress.
New ideas have given our favourite Sunday Indy a new lease of life, and new ideas are needed urgently at Huish Park.
The season when 9,178 and 9,072 watched Bristol City and Notting- ham Forest are a distant memory, but only everyone acting on the club’s motto “Achieve by Unity” can bring them back.