For me, there are two big reasons why we did not win the Alliance League. One, there was no prolific goalscorer and two, a poor away record. Fernandez and Cox finished joint top scorers in all competitions with just 9 goals each, and Elliott Cox is a wide player. To be fair, Fernandez was injured for some time, and German was rightly promoted to the 1st team, and did very well.
The season started ‘iffy’¬† with a draw and a couple of Cup defeats but then we settled down and results started to come. German was up-front and had scored 7 goals. Sterling had been moved up from U16 level and was playing well and of course, had started to get noticed. Steve Gallen ended up getting a double whammy, losing German to the 1st team and Sterling to Liverpool. Gallen is an excellent Coach technically, he does not let things get to him and results stayed good. We were top of the League for a long spell and plodding on in the Alliance Cup.
After beating Southampton in the FA Youth Cup, we had a tough match at West Ham, losing 0-3. We had a good 20 minutes at Upton Park, but when West Ham took the lead, I felt we couldn’t seem to change gear and 100% effort would not be enough. We reached the Semi-Finals of the Trofeo Sardegna, going out to Slavia Prague in a penalty shoot-out.
Success for some players away from the R’s had been good with Harriman, Ehmer, Sterling and Sutherland, all being called up by Eire, Germany and England respectively. During the 2nd half of the season, league results started to waiver a bit with a couple of draws and defeats, although the final positions did almost go to the wire, but not quite. Steve Gallen did say that Millwall were the best team in the league and they ended up as Champions.We finished 4th, which was disappointing after being top for long spells, but losing GOOD players for one reason or another is a hazard, sometimes two or three at a time.
The good news was winning the Alliance Cup, especially at Loftus Road. A crowd of about 400 saw a good match against Stockport County, who at one stage led 3-1 before we came back to win 4-3. I said earlier that we plodded along in the Alliance Cup and we did, beating Brentford just 1-0, beating Brighton and Exeter on penalties and then Peterborough 3-0 in the Southern Section Final. At the start of the season we even lost two in the qualifying league stage ! It was great to see a season end with silverware at last. Well done to Steve Gallen, Marc Bircham, Clayton Zane and all the players of course.
My own personal ‘Player of the Year’¬† was Elliott Cox. Not only was he the joint top scorer but he was always consistent, hard working and always dangerous. A budding Andrew Impey ? He fully deserves the pro-contract he has got, as do Niki-Lee Bulmer and Aaron Waters. Harriman at right-back was close to getting my vote as ‘Player of the Year’ after having a very good season, tough, hard working and again, consistent. Amazingly, five keepers were used during the season. It would have been six if a trialist hadn’t got injured in the warm-up at West Ham. The thirty odd players used over the season all gave it their best shot, 100%. It’s not easy playing on open fields on Saturday mornings, especially when it’s cold, wet and windy much of the time and you’re trying to impress the watching management, i.e. Gallen, Bircham and Warnock !!! Well done also to Josh Parker and Lee Brown on making their 1st team debuts during the season. Good luck to all of them.
Marc Bircham had a good first season in Youth Management, with the U16 Development team winning 15 out of 23 games and drawing two. There is no league, but if there had been, we would have been up top or thereabouts. Bircham and Zane’s teams play good football and have five or six players who have either already stepped up or will soon be ready for U18 level. Although as I said earlier, Steve Gallen’s team losing players is a hindrance, but it does give other players a chance to move in and show what they can do. The U16 players did that, and did it very well. Andrade is a very skilful player who scores goals from anywhere and Henry-Francis is a good target man who can also score goals, like a very young Ray Jones. Those and others have bright futures. Don’t waste it.
I hope that next season the match day programme will please remember that we HAVE GOT an U16 team. This seemed to be forgotten during the season. Thanks once again to Terry Springett for the Saturday, and Sundays, help with fixtures. I love her more each season !!!