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The End of Season Review - Part 1....
..by Sheffield Harrier...07-05-03


The curtain has come down on our 3rd season as a league club and I'm still stuck as to how to describe the campaign.  One thing is for sure though, there is no doubt we should all be mighty pleased that the minnows from Worcestershire have gone the whole season without the word 'relegation' crossing any of our lips.

We have comfortably held our own in this league, and that is a great achievement for a club of our stature and resources.  However, some people will undoubtedly be left feeling a little disappointed with our poor end to the season.  After wins over Cambridge and Southend in March we were 9th in the league, two points off third place and had a game or games in hand on nearly all the teams above us.  Wrexham, the side who claimed the third automatic spot, had played the same games as us and had the same points.

Abdou Sall A grand finale wasn't to be;  a run of just one win in eleven to finish the season put any play-off hopes firmly to rest.  The side suffered with injuries, suspensions and poor performances and our hopes of a May trip to Cardiff disappeared faster than Abdou Sall at a Nuneaton training session.

The manager, Ian Britton, has certainly got a lot to smile about though.  The sceptics were quick to criticise the appointment of the rookie boss and a fair few people were predicting a relegation fight.  'He's got no experience' and 'he has no league links' were the favoured remarks.  However, Brit got on with the job and brought in experienced midfielders Sean Parrish and Sean Flynn to the side.

Sean Flynn Flynn was a notable capture, highlighted by the fact that Tranmere fans were very sorry to see him leave.  The Kiddy squad was small (the reserves went in the close season) but we could all see that we probably had a half decent first eleven to put out if everyone could stay fit.  The start of the season was a strange affair - we drew 6 out of the first 8 games and bar the 4-3 win over Exeter, we weren't serving up the most exciting football.  Fans were happy to see this away, but at home, people were frustrated by Harriers lack of ability to dominate games - a pattern that would continue throughout the season.  However, Brit was proving that he could organise a side and that we wouldn't be easy to beat.  Brit also soon proved he was very good at picking up the phone to our neighbours up the road.

The day after our 4-0 defeat at Forest in the league cup, Mark Clyde and JJ Melligan were added to the squad, on loan, courtesy of Wolves.  The club was making no secret of the lack of money available for permanent additions, so Brit was prepared to try and use the loan system to our advantage.  And it certainly worked!  September and October were good months and Kiddy recorded away wins at Southend, Bristol Rovers, Shrewsbury and Swansea and good home wins against Cambridge and Jan Molby's Hull (oh how we rejoiced)!

Ian Britton Mark Clyde only made 4 appearances for the Reds but it was enough for us to see he was too good for the Third Division.  JJ Melligan was amongst the goals from the start and Kiddy eventually secured his services for the whole season.  JJ could blow hot and cold, but we shouldn't underestimate the difference he made to the side as an attacking force.  Ian Britton was deservedly crowned manager of the month for October and all the talk was of a charge for the play-offs.  The only blip in October was a 2 nil home defeat to Macclesfield, and this should have been heeded as a reminder to the growing ranks of optimists as to just how cruel football can be.

The curse of manager of the month struck and Harriers didn't record a league win in November and went out to Rushden in the FA Cup after a replay.  Kiddy fans didn't know it then, but October was to be Harriers best month of the season as the Reds struggled to find any consistency from then on.  The minor bright spot in November was a very late win over Swindon in the LDV Mickey mouse cup - Abdou Sall scored his last goal for Kiddy and then surprisingly went on loan to Oxford at the end of the month, never to be seen in a Reds shirt again.

Britton continued to use the loan system to freshen up the squad as Coleman was brought in from Wolves (October) and young striker Andy Bishop arrived from Walsall in November.  Bishop scored on his debut at Torquay and looked a sure fire bet for helping Bo and JJ out with the goalscoring duties.  But defeat at Hartlepool and then at home to York put Harriers 11th and fans began asking themselves why they'd let themselves get so excited.  However, a great win at Wrexham, 3 points at home to Orient and a battling draw at Bury over the festive period gave us cause to look upwards again.  The win at Wrexham now looks more impressive given the fact they were probably the best team of the 2nd half of the season and JJ's goal at the Racecourse Ground is surely a candidate for goal of the season.

Dion Scott Those pesky Diamonds knocked us down a peg or two in January and inconsistency was still the buzzword following wins over Bury and Bournemouth and defeats to Darlo and Oxford.  Brit was banging on about defensive errors quite a bit so he brought in Dion Scott on a non-contract basis.  The big, no-nonsense defender started well, and even scored on his debut at Carlisle, but late season performances showed he too had caught the 'cock-up-itis' bug from his new mates.

3 wins out of 4 in February, culminating in the 5-2 rout of hapless Exeter, amazingly put us 4th in the league, although the table was tighter than one of Jordan's bras.  We had 15 games to go and a decent return of points would surely see us make the play-offs for the first time in our history.  Alas, the rollercoaster hit another dip and we conceded 6 in two games going down 3-0 at Boston and losing 3-1 at home to the impressive Scunthorpe.  Brit brought in further defensive reinforcements with the arrival of Wes Morgan and 6 points were won from Southend and Cambridge.

However, the Kidderminster public told the Harriers what they thought of the club's play-off chances as only 1900 home fans turned up for the game against Southend.  Only a few more turned up for the game with Shrewsbury and Kiddy began on their awful end of season points haul.

Defeats at Lincoln, Oxford and Macclesfield dented our good away record and, despite a brief glimmer of hope after a one-nil win at Rochdale, the lads didn't have enough in their tank for one final push.  Harriers finished the season going down 4-1 to Hull and drawing 1-1 with Bristol Rovers.


So our third season in the league finishes with our second best finish when, for most of the way, we took it for granted we would better the 10th position achieved in 2001/2002.  Different clubs will have different definitions of success and Kiddy will, once again, be proud of avoiding a relegation dogfight on the smallest budget in the league.


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The End of Season Review - Part 2....
..by Sheffield Harrier...14-05-03


So why didn't we achieve that much desired top 7 position?

A quick glance at the table shows us that we only managed 8 wins at home all year.  That's less than Swansea.  If we are all honest, can any of us remember a home game where we dominated from start to finish?  We only managed to win twice at home in a row once all season and, to me, the players often looked nervous and ponderous at home.  We even conceded more goals at home than we scored.

Ian Britton Perhaps it was our style of play because we were certainly doing better away from home than in the previous two league seasons.  There is less pressure on the boys to attack away from home and we often looked more composed on our travels.

There is no doubt that on our day, when our best eleven clicked, we played some great stuff.  Unfortunately, the boys didn't have it in them to produce consistently and this is often the difference between a decent footballer and a good footballer.

Next season is a complete mystery to me.  It is impossible to begin making predictions as the playing staff at the club (and most in the Third Division) could be drastically different come August.  A lot is being made of the flood of players that will be available and, for once, it should be the clubs that hold the upper hand in negotiations.  A lot of teams will cut their squads and many players will find it difficult to find clubs and will have to take wage cuts to continue making a living as a professional footballer.

It should make sense that the sides with the ability to pay the highest wages will succeed but, thankfully, football isn't always like that or else how would we be finishing alongside Hull City in the table?!  The logic for each set of fans is usually to expect an improvement on the previous season but we should really be pleased with survival once again.

Things can change quickly (look at Shrewsbury) and a safe league position coupled with a few juicy wins will make me very happy indeed!

Player Review

Stuart Brock - Still prone to errors (show me a 3rd Division keeper that isn't) but I was pleased to see him regain his place from Digby.  Makes some fantastic saves and I hope he remains at Kiddy for the foreseeable future.

Craig Hinton - A worryingly disappointing season by his standards.  Perhaps 3 at the back doesn't suit him but Craig was not the reliable and composed player that we have come to expect.
Despite this he has been linked with a move to promoted Hartlepool.  He's capable of recapturing his form and I've every faith he will knuckle down and do just that- hopefully in a red shirt.

Scott Stamps Scott Stamps - His injury was a blow.  Works hard, good defender and decent at going forward.  Again though, not sure a back 3 suits him.

Dion Scott - At first everyone was hailing him as the answer to our problems.  He certainly added some much needed height to the back line.  However, it still looks like he's learning and I don't think he will be the solid rock we are all after.
Definitely worth keeping though.

Adie Smith - Adie is probably not the player he was a couple of years ago but he is still a very reliable and useful utility player to have in the squad.  Always works hard, tackles well, good in the air for his size but perhaps not the most gifted technically.

Kenny Coleman - Kenny will be released by Wolves in the close season - he made 20 appearances for the Harriers.  I don't think he's better than Hinton or Scott and I hope Brit doesn't rush for his signature.

Wes Morgan and Mark Clyde both showed why their clubs rate them.  The best we can hope for is another loan spell from them.

Wes Morgan Lee Ayres - Some were expecting bigger things from Lee - maybe he is still a bit young?  Made too many mistakes for my liking.

Danny Williams - Player of the season.  He has matured as a player and now there is so much more to his game than his physical presence and hard running.
The question is whether we can get him on a new contract or does Danny have ambitions to play at a higher level?  Rumours are rife about moves to Hartlepool or Wrexham and our midfield will surely suffer if we don't replace him sufficiently.

Sean Flynn - Overshadowed by Danny Williams in his first full season at the club.  Many Harriers fans don't rate him but I think that he's a good player when he's on his game.  Not shown to be the best player technically but he knows the game and I reckon he'll still be here for next season.
Sean also seems to suffer from the occasional desire to perform press-ups during a game.

Sean Parrish - Steady first season at the club and has weighed in with 5 goals.  He's sometimes anonymous in games and his style of play is similar to Flynnie.  May slot in for Danny if he goes and form a partnership with Flynn.

Dean Bennett Dean Bennett - Very disappointing goals total this year - just 1 league goal for Benno is not good enough.  One of the longer serving players and I'm still waiting for him to really realise his potential.  He wasn't bad this year, but he didn't produce enough performances that we know he's capable of.

Sam Shilton - Sam has contributed this year with 6 goals and the most assists.  Many thought he would be a fringe player this year but he has made the left side his own and had a particularly promising start.  Sam's not the best player in the team but I believe he works hard and his defensive contribution is sometimes overlooked.  I'd like a player with a bit more quality in Sam's position but beggars can't be choosers can they?

JJ Melligan - Very influential in getting our season going.  JJ gave the midfield a more exciting and creative edge and his ability shone through.  Performances tailed off towards the end of his season but a player that I'm sure we'd all love to be a permanent Harrier.
Even if Wolves let him go then I'm not sure we'd be the only team after his signature.

Hugh Macauley - Hard to call really as he has not started a game.  Looks like he has some nice touches and is confident on the ball.  Whether he stays will depend more on finances than ability.

Ian Foster - 21 appearances as substitute sums up Fozzie's season.  He was obviously never in Brit's long-term plans.  The lad still worked hard but he never looked the player he was.
There was a touching farewell from Ian after the Rovers game and I wish him well wherever he ends up.

Drewe Broughton - Drewe causes more debate between Harriers' fans than any other player.  His effort and commitment to the cause cannot be faulted but just 4 league goals (plus 4 cup goals) is just not good enough.  In my opinion he misses too many chances that the majority of 3rd Division strikers would put away.  However, I reckon Drewe will stay at the club unless we find another forward in the target man mould.

Bo Henriksen - Some will knock his work rate but you can't argue with 20 league goals.  Bo has the ability to get us something out of nothing and is a natural finisher and technically very good.
Will Bo be here next year?  He has spoken out against too much long ball football and he has certainly increased his profile amongst fans and managers this year.  If Bo left we'd need to replace him with someone who could find the net at this level.
Luke Rodgers anyone?

Andy Bishop - Bish scored 5 goals in 29 appearances (7 as sub).  Whether Walsall want to keep him on for a bit remains to be seen.  I'm not sure he could cut it in the 1st Division but I'm sure he could score goals in the 3rd.  The lad works hard and he can beat people.  Needs to learn to make the right decision at the right time more often though.

Inderpaul Khela and Nick Heath made sub appearances before the end of the season but I can't really comment on their ability.  Whether they remain in the squad will depend on the wheeling and dealing Brit does in the summer.

Have a nice summer!

Harriers-Online have printed this article in good faith and hold no responsibility
for it's validity or comment.
If you would like to give
your views on anything football
related then please click below




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