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Garry Hill’s thoughts on the season

Ian Nicholson
12:30am, Thu 24th Apr 2014
It's been another highly successful league campaign for Woking FC with the Cards having outstripped last year’s excellent points tally and sitting comfortably in the top half of the table. In the last few weeks, amidst a very busy programme of games and just before Alfreton, we caught a few minutes with the manager to get his thoughts on the year. To hear more and put your own questions do join us at Kingfield from 7.30pm on Thursday at the Fans' Forum.

Firstly Garry before we look right back to the start of the season the statistics show that since mid November this team have been on a brilliant run – with a points total second only to Luton. You must be very proud of how the squad have responded to a slow start.

Yes they have done brilliantly. That stat did surprise me when I heard that over the last 25 or 26 games we have been second only to the worthy Champions, Luton – it shows how much we have improved. All the credit must go to the players and Thommo; he has got them working hard and very fit. What we have seen this year is that the gap between full time and part time can be closed considerably if players are prepared to do the work in their own time and then with Steve in training.

At the start of the season, with Gez just returning from injury, we obviously struggled to find a settled strike force. That must have been very frustrating?

Yes it was very frustrating and we needed to be very patient. We all know that in the end we will be judged on the goals we score and forwards who get goals are always in high demand – and their clubs don’t want to get rid of them. We had no problem finding strikers but financially weren’t able to get them to the club. We had to stay patient and it certainly brought a big boost to get Jack (Marriott) and Scott (Rendell) in alongside Gez. Other factors were getting players like Kieran Murtagh back again and John Goddard recovering from injury. Probably the biggest thing has been getting a settled squad who are showing full consistency in their performances.

It has been a huge turnaround?

Yes the start of the season was messy; we also lost Michael Cestor for the first few games because a French club were interested in him. It was a great opportunity for Mike and the club supported him all the way through but in the end he was messed around and we lost him from pre season and the first 3 games. In addition, on the field, certain players did not behave and perform to the standards we expect at the club. That happens sometimes – you can always make mistakes as a management team but then you draw on your experience, stand by what is right and keep to the way you want things run. What we now have is a good nucleus of players who know the way we want to work.

And you do find out about the character of your players?

Yes, you want players who will stick at it week in, week out who are hungry and keen. You need players who are prepared to do the ugly things, the things they don’t necessarily want to. Its about the squad and building a foundation to move forward.

As you say it is now a very settled and consistent squad – and that pays dividends.

Yes there is no doubt that we have a very good mixture at the club of promising and hungry young players and model pro’s who bring their years of experience and stability, which also helps the younger ones. You need that in any team and it is very encouraging – it really is a very, very good mix.

We had to be patient with John Goddard because we saw glimpses in pre season and a lot of maturity for his age but then he picked up a niggling injury. He has done very well for us. Also all credit to the loan players who have been a big factor in our season. Kieran (Murtagh) is back again; it seems like he signs each season for a club for a holiday and then comes back to us half way through the year! Jack Marriott (who has now returned to parent club, Ipswich) is a lovely lad and has done very well with a great goals to games ratio. Scott Rendell has been different class on and off the pitch – he’s very good in the dressing room. Joey Jones has slotted in well; they have all played their part and they really are a very good bunch of lads.

Last season I remember you saying you were buzzing and didn’t want the season to end. Do you feel the same this year?

I think I did until Thursday night (when Woking lost to Cambridge)! To beat Gateshead, Barnet, Halifax and Luton on the road and then lose a lead at Grimsby deep into injury time has been a terrific effort. However the last week with 4 games in 8 days, travelling to Hereford and Grimsby getting back on Wednesday morning has taken its toll and I think it showed on Thursday when Cambridge beat us.

However if you take a step back we have 4 games to go and the Surrey Senior Cup Final and we want to get as many points as possible. Last year I think we punched above our weight and this year it looks like we will exceed that points total. (Woking have now done that with the scintillating second half fightback against Alfreton). So a better points tally and a piece of silverware would I think make it a good season, on and off the field. At this stage we have a good nucleus of hungry players and it is about looking to tie that down and build for the long term.

The fans have been great this year

They always are –a terrific bunch of supporters who have always been superb for the three years we have been here. They know where we are as a club and what we are trying to do and never get on the players backs. The supporters follow us everywhere and have been absolutely first class. (Following the Alfreton game Garry added to this ‘today the fans were the twelfth man –they players were tired but the supporters lifted us and lifted us for the equalizer and then urged us on for the win – they played a big part today’)

Finally, and looking ahead Garry what do you think next season holds?

Well we are moving in the right direction for sure. I like to think we have a base to work with but the next few weeks will be very busy – talking to the Directors, talking to the players and getting the foundations of the squad together. Football never stands still but I like to think that we have a really good nucleus to build on.

Thank you Garry and, on behalf of the fans, we would like to thank you, Steve and the players for your wholehearted commitment and some memorable performances this year. It is a great achievement to exceed last years effort and also produce exciting football – thanks.

See you at the Fans' Forum!

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