MIDFIELDER Shaun Wilkinson was the man the fans loved to hate last season.
The barracking he took from the terraces was extraordinary and few rated his chances of sticking out his contract, let alone winning over the supporters.
But that is exactly what he has done.
His wholehearted efforts pre-season have earned him a cult following at the Wessex and the fans now shout for, rather than at, him.
So what has caused this remarkable change in one of Weymouth’s most colourful, controversial characters?
Who better to ask him than the fans themselves.
Shaun Wilkinson was born in Portsmouth in September 1981.
His started off his football career as a youngster with Southampton before moving to Portsmouth and then to Brighton on a three-year apprenticeship at 16.
He said: “At that time I was a utility player and I played in any position they asked me to but mainly as a striker.
“I played up front alongside Bobby Zamora in the first division for a while.
“Mark McGee said I could stay on at Brighton but I wanted regular football so I went to Havant last year when they came in for me and I was there for four months before Steve bought me.
“At the time Havant were struggling.
The managers who had bought me had been sacked, whereas Weymouth were top of the league so it was too good an opportunity to turn down.”
1. How did it feel when virtually the whole Wessex were shouting for you to be taken off?
I was disappointed in myself last year.
I wasn’t fit for the whole season and I let myself down so I don’t really blame them.
The fans pay their money and they are entitled to criticise somebody’s performance.
It is disappointing when you get some stick and you go home with the hump but to be honest last year I deserved it.
I’ve worked very hard to get fit over the close season and I’m now hopefully back to being the player I used to be.
Last season is behind me and I just want to go forward and get promotion with Weymouth.
2. How can this type of barracking affect a player?
If you can’t take some stick you’re in the wrong game.
Of course you are aware of it but you just have to switch off and try to concentrate on your game.
On the other side, it’s brilliant when you score and you can celebrate with the fans.
3. Why are you so, er, competitive?
That is my game – it’s all about tackling and breaking opponents’ play up.
Basically going in and doing the ugly jobs.
I couldn’t do it last year because I wasn’t fit but I’ve lost a bit of weight and I’m faster so I can get closer to people and make those tackles.
4. Are you conscious of the red mist descending?
I go in hard but I am committed.
I want to do well and that’s not going to change.
I always give 110 per cent. I want to get back to pro football eventually and hopefully that will be with Weymouth.
5. Are you heir to the Wilkinson convenience superstore empire?
No, unfortunately not.
6. Which came first – the chicken or the egg?
Sorry, that’s confused me, that one!
7. Are you aware of your cult following?
Not at all.
Last year I could sense the atmosphere of the fans building but, no, nobody has come up and said anything to me.
But I am now back to a good level of fitness and I can hopefully show those fans what I can do.
8. How do you feel the Terras will do this season?
I think we’ll still go up.
We have to get back to how we know we can play and once we get that first win we’ll really start firing.
Hopefully the fans will get behind us to help us do that.
Ambitions are high within the club and we have got to match that on the pitch.
9. What was it like playing your ex-club?
Steve put me on against Havant when we were 3-0 down and I obviously got some stick but I’ve got nothing to prove to them, it’s water off a duck’s back.
10. Who is your favourite world player?
Roy Keane – no surprise there then! He gets stuck in.
11. Does Adam Wilde do your hair?
My hair’s a bit of a mess at the moment, I do need a cut. But no, Adam has never touched my hair yet and going by his hair, he won’t be either!
12. How many opponents’ legs have you broken?
I’m a clean tackler! I’ve never broken anybody’s legs that I know of.