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Review of the Year: Terras' future in good hands
9:30am Saturday 29th December 2012 in Local Sport
A BREAK-IN at the club on New Year’s Eve soured the start of 2012 for everyone involved at Weymouth FC.
However, the breach, which included flooding of the main bar, failed to dampen spirits on the pitch where the Terras, boosted by the signing of Alex Jeannin, began January with a stunning 3-1 victory over high-flying AFC Totton in front of a promising crowd of 901.
A wave of optimism ran through the club but it soon came crashing down with a run of three heavy defeats, including a 6-0 hammering against Conference outfit Alfreton Town in the second round of the FA Trophy.
Despite telling the players to shape up or ship out following that disappointing run of results, George Rolls continued to strive for stability off the pitch.
After praising the community spirit shown after the break-in and the fundraising efforts of ex-director Paul Cocks and his business associates, and the Wessex Fantasy Football, the Cambridge-based businessman promised to write-off his loans in the club worth around £75,000.
Rolls made the announcement at a general meeting on the ninth where he also outlined plans for the club to go full-time in the summer, along with his intention to return as chairman with his majority shareholding wife, Amanda, set to step aside.
Later in the month, Rolls then admitted to having held talks with Kettering Town chairman Imraan Ladak but insisted a possible takeover of the struggling Poppies was not on the cards.
* The club revealed ongoing talks with the council about the possibility of renting out the Bob Lucas Stadium for use during the Olympics.
* It was also announced that the board was once again considering taking legal action against former chairman Malcolm Curtis in regards to the sale of the land surrounding the ground.
* A season-ticket initiative was launched for the 2012-13 campaign where fans would only have to pay £99 if a target of 1,000 sales was met.
* Amanda Rolls attended the Alfreton tie – her first and only ever appearance at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
* Warren Byerley turned down the chance to talk to a mystery club after the Terras accepted an offer for his services.
Out: Jamie Beasley (on loan to Poole Tn), James Coutts (loan deal ends), Byron Napper (loan deal ends).
ALL the talk at the turn of the month was surrounding Stephen Reed’s future at the club.
The midfielder was the subject of a bid from Dorchester Town but he eventually decided to stay at the Bob Lucas Stadium out of loyalty.
However, Sam Malsom did make the move across the Ridgeway, while in came forwards Ben Joyce and Mark Ford, and full-back Ashley Wells.
James Coutts also returned for a second loan spell but a similar move for Byron Napper failed to materialise.
A cold snap in the month also saw the Terras have to go 47 days without a home game but things soon started to heat up off the field as George Rolls failed to shake off ongoing speculation linking him with Kettering.
Eventually, it materialised he was already helping out the Poppies behind-the-scenes and it soon became clear a takeover was indeed in the offing.
Then, in another controversial move, Rolls decided to offer both Terras’ boss Brendon King and his assistant Matt Groves, five-year contracts.
The pair ended up agreeing the deals but just a week later Rolls sold the club to director Nigel Biddlecombe after coming under huge pressure from the fans, which included a threat of legal action over his family’s majority shareholding, and the decision of the Weymouth FC Supporters’ Association and the Wessex Fantasy Football to freeze funding.
Ex-Plymouth Argyle chief operating officer Tony Campbell was initially seen as the frontrunner to acquire the Terras from Rolls, but when he pulled out it left the coast clear for Biddlecombe to land the club for £20,000, which included funds raised by fans at the 11th hour.
*n An arson attack at the Bob Lucas Stadium in the early hours of the 19th saw a caravan destroyed and damage inflicted to cabling behind one of the floodlights. Dorset Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the fire had been started deliberately.
* Richard Marshallsay and Ryan McKechnie cancel their contracts and join the Royal Marines.
* Mickey Greeno returns to the club as a coach.
* Mark Ford scored twice on his home debut to inspire the Terras to a 2-1 victory over Banbury United.
In: Ben Joyce, Mark Ford, Ashley Wells, James Coutts (on loan). Out: Sam Malsom.
NIGEL Biddlecombe began his reign by quickly unveiling a new interim board, which included Mark Coleman, Tony McDonnell, Ralph Ricardo, Steve Taylor, Ade Mac-Donald, Pete Saxby, Shaun Hennessy, Dave Parsons and Alan Pepperell.
The new Terras’ chief also announced that the £99 season-ticket scheme set up at the beginning of the year was under review.
On the pitch, Bryon Napper returned to the club on loan from Crawley Town but Nick Jordan was ruled out for the rest of the season with a groin injury. James Coutts returned to AFC Totton and Ben Joyce moved to Kettering.
The new board then announced they had uncovered £40,000 worth of debts which they quickly managed to reduce to £14,000.
Biddlecombe also revealed plans to sign the club’s majority shareholding over to the Weymouth FC Community Trust and admitted that talks were ongoing with Morgan Sindall and Wessex Delivery Partnership over the possible relocation of the stadium.
Mark Ford then made his first start for the club and bagged a hat-trick against Ciren-cester Town before a horrific head collision between Ben Gerring and Sam Poole saw King lose both his centre-backs in the same game during a 3-1 defeat at Brackley Town.
Rhys Baggridge arrived on loan from Yeovil Town as cover, as did Gosport Borough keeper Alex Hards later in the month, following Tom Manley’s unavailability through work commitments.
Unfortunately four straight defeats at the end of March saw the Terras plummet to 15th, just four points above the drop-zone.
* Weymouth Ladies began playing their fixtures at the Bob Lucas Stadium again.
In: Rhys Baggridge (loan), Alex Hards (loan).
Out: James Coutts (loan deal ends), Ben Joyce.
THERE were apologies all-round following a dismal 2-0 home defeat against 10-man Arlesey Town with Brendon King and Nigel Biddlecombe at the head of the queue.
Two draws against Chesham and St Albans then followed before back-to-back defeats against Frome Town and Cambridge City left the Terras 18th, two points above the drop-zone with just two games remaining.
The 3-0 loss against the Robins brought with it more embarrassment at the Bob Lucas Stadium with crowd trouble marring Biddlecombe’s historic sign-over of his majority shareholding into a trust.
Even the police had to be called to the game and although no arrests were made the entire episode left the Terras’ chairman “absolutely devastated”.
King was also heavily criticised for preferring Hards ahead of Manley while Ben Gerring put the Frome defeat down to Easter excesses by some of his team-mates.
George Rolls’ involvement with Kettering was also causing a stir. Not only was King linked with a move to the Poppies but a proposed pre-season friendly between the two clubs had to be quickly quashed after Weymouth fans poured scorn on the idea.
The Terras went into their penultimate game at home to Hitchin desperate for a win and they got it thanks to Mark Ford, who won a penalty and bagged the winner in a 2-1 success, which guaranteed survival.
Biddlecombe immediately backed King and Matt Groves to continue at the helm the following season – a stance he maintained despite a dismal 2-0 defeat at Redditch on the final day of the campaign.
The month ended with the sad passing of former Terras’ chairman Martyn Harrison. Tributes poured in for the well-known businessman who will always be remembered for leading the club into the Conference in 2005-06.
* Biddlecombe declared the five-year contracts agreed by King and Groves under the Rolls regime null and void.
* A further financial update saw the overall debt inherited by the new board estimated at close to £60,000, which had been reduced to just under £17,000.
* Admission prices were frozen for 2012-13.
* The Weymouth FC Community Trust board was unveiled. Members included Paul Cocks, Simon Etherington, Barrie Merrifield, Roy Child and Graham Cole.
* Defender Ashley Wells agreed a deal for 2012-13.
* Jake Richmond and Nick Bennett agreed to remain joint-managers of the reserves.
* Ex-player David Platt sadly passed away.
STEPHEN Reed became the next figure at the club to publicly back boss Brendon King, who was eventually given the go-ahead to start planning for 2012-13 through a new one-year deal.
Craig Duff committed his future to the club but Byron Napper and Ben Gerring departed and never returned – the latter joining George Rolls at Kettering.
It was then announced that Warren Byerley required a knee operation that could see him miss the start of next season. The club’s top striker also intimated he was keen to agree a new contract.
Manley was left considering his future due to work and family commitments while Tony Greaves joined the board as a director after stepping down as chairman at Portland United.
Another big development saw the Riviera Hotel agree to become the club’s new main sponsor in a one-year deal, with an option for a second year, worth five figures.
* Ben Smith turned down the chance to return to the Terras in a player-coach capacity after his release from Crawley.
Out: Ben Gerring, Byron Napper, Ollie Tribe, Tom Manley.
BRENDON King lost out to local rivals Dorchester Town in the race for Jason Matthews’ signature.
The experienced keeper was not the only one to turn down the Terras’ advances with midfielder Dave Allen also shunning a possible switch in favour of a move to AFC Totton.
To make matters worse, Warren Byerley was also now showing an interest in a move to Kettering despite the FA having charged George Rolls with over 3,000 alleged breaches of its rules governing misconduct and betting.
Although Weymouth helped pay for a private operation on his knee, Byerley turned down their offer of a new deal and eventually decided to move to the Poppies.
One piece of good news saw Lewis Clarke sign for the club following his release from Yeovil Town.
The club also held its first AGM since Rolls’ departure and announced a £17,639.37 profit for the two years ending May 31, 2011 – a figure Nigel Biddlecombe admitted could be inaccurate due to unlimited information.
Another development from the meeting saw Shaun Hennessy join the board and Tony McDonnell step down due to private commitments.
It was also announced that the club’s debt had now been reduced to £5,000 and that talks were ongoing with Morgan Sindall and Wessex Delivery Partnership over the possible relocation of the ground.
*n A successful commercial evening was held at the Riviera Hotel, which included a guest appearance from Olympic swimming legend Duncan Goodhew.
* Chris Povall, Sam Poole, Scott Dixon and Charlie Holland all signed on for next season.
In: Lewis Clarke. Out: Warren Byerley.
BARRY McConnell, Danny Clay and Scott Walker all arrived at the Bob Lucas Stadium on one-year deals.
Simon Evans and Ben Joyce also eventually rejoined the club while Alex Jeannin and Stephen Reed agreed non-contract terms.
Another one that put pen to paper later in the month was Mark Ford, who signed his contract ahead of the pre-season friendly against a Bristol City XI on the 28th – a match that was marred by a broken ankle suffered by Ashley Wells.
Brendon King also tried to entice Charlie Clough back to the Terras but, like Jason Matthews, he chose Dorchester instead.
In other matters, George Rolls was banned from all football activity for five years and fined £10,000 after a Football Association Independent Regulatory Commission proved he had breached FA regulations.
* Weymouth Veterans beat Yeovil Veterans 4-3 in a charity match in aid of the St Margaret’s Hospice and the Purbeck Isle Memorial Fund. The match was played in memory of David Platt.
* The Terras’ season-ticket sales moved above the 200-mark.
In: Barry McConnell, Danny Clay, Scott Walker, Simon Evans, Ben Joyce.
KYLE Critchell bucked the recent trend by leaving Dorchester Town for a fifth spell with the Terras.
He was joined by sought-after striker Dan Smith but it was Scott Walker that was made club captain.
The first game of the new season pitted Brendon King’s new-look side against none other than Kettering but the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
The next three matches then heralded four more points as the Terras got heir campaign off to an indifferent start in their bid for a top-10 finish – the objective set by the club’s hierarchy.
King apologised for his side’s display after the disappointing defeat at St Neots Town on the 25th before Ben Joyce bagged a hat-trick in the last game of the month, a 4-2 victory over Bideford.
* Ian Hutchinson was given a long overdue testimonial in which Weymouth drew 0-0 with local rivals Dorchester Town.
In: Kyle Critchell, Dan Smith. Out: Jamie Beasley.
PRESSURE began to build on Brendon King following a winless month in the league, which included two draws and two defeats.
There was better fortune in the FA Trophy where new signing Ed Palmer helped the club to a 3-0 win over Tiverton Town.
However, hopes of a good FA Cup run were dashed at Basingstoke Town after Totton & Eling were dispatched at the second attempt in the previous round.
Ben Joyce pointed the finger at the players for the Terras’ disappointing start to the campaign while fans called for Mark Ford to start more games.
Off the pitch, Nigel Biddlecombe admitted to feeling a little disheartened that more people had not got behind the club since his takeover.
* Rex Buttle and Jake Richmond both lashed out at Weymouth Under-18s and Weymouth Reserves respectively following disappointing performances.
In: Ed Palmer
THE Terras began October with a frenetic 3-3 draw at home to Gosport Borough.
Four days later, Bedworth United took a 2-0 home win against Brendon King’s men but the Weymouth boss’ position was still not up for discussion, according to Nigel Biddlecombe.
Fortunately, they did not have to wait much longer for their first victory of the month.
The Terras travelled to the far reaches of Oxfordshire and earned a fully merited 3-1 win against Banbury United, as Ben Joyce bagged two goals either side of half-time.
One interested spectator at that game was former Weymouth and Dorchester Town boss Stuart Morgan, who was brought in by King in an advisory role.
The Terras had not secured a home win in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division since late August, but Mark Ford’s superb hat-trick lifted them to a timely 3-2 victory over Hitchin Town.
Later in the week, Alex Jeannin was released by King following the impressive form of Ed Palmer, before a major shock in the FA Trophy second qualifying round.
Shortwood United, sat in the division below the Terras, punished the hosts for a slack display after Weymouth had taken the lead through Ford, and claimed a 2-1 win.
The defeat raised the debate over King’s position again, with the manager and skipper Scott Walker both apologising for the performance.
Out: Alex Jeannin
ANY hopes of the Terras recovering from that upset were dismissed when Stourbridge made the trip to the South Coast.
Defenders Sam Poole and Kyle Critchell both saw red as the West Midlands side scored four second-half goals to condemn the Terras to an ignominious 5-1 reverse.
The same week, defender Scott Dixon left the club as a result of a long-term struggle to combine university studies with his Terras’ commitments, while Ashley Wells returned to full fitness after recovering from his broken ankle.
A 3-2 win away to in-form St Albans then lifted spirits somewhat, with Ford notching another double.
Weymouth’s poor run at home continued when they fell to a 1-0 defeat against 10-man Cambridge City – their third consecutive home loss in all competitions.
Plans to construct up to 200 new homes on the existing Bob Lucas Stadium site were mooted in late November, with the Terras heading to a new home near Lodmoor tip – the proposal from Wessex Delivery Partnership was eventually unveiled to the public at two separate meetings at the Hotel Rembrandt the following month.
A waterlogged pitch then defied the Terras’ ambitions to defeat high-flying Leamington, but a 3-1 win against rivals Portland United in the Dorset Senior Cup quarter-finals provided the perfect springboard into December.
* The Southern League allowed Kettering to move their home fixture with the Terras to Corby Town’s Steel Park on December 23 – a decision that was blasted by Brendon King.
Out: Scott Dixon
DESPITE starting the month facing a defensive crisis the Terras strung together five successive league wins to move within a point of the play-offs.
Brendon King was hailed by skipper Scott Walker while Kyle Critchell claimed he had no regrets leaving Dorchester Town despite their run to the second round of the FA Cup.
Jamie Skinner also joined the club from Willand Rovers but perhaps the biggest development of the month came in regards to WDP’s new stadium plans, which were met with an underwhelming response.
So much so that a club statement was issued on the 10th, claiming that the proposal did not meet the standards set out by the board or within the option agreement.
In: Jamie Skinner.