Director of Football, Paul Maitland gives a rallying cry ahead of Saturday. In this edition of Terras Firsts, he also looks back at his time at this time at the club.
• His first memories of Weymouth Football Club
I first watched the Nottingham Forest replay on TV which was a long time ago now. My first time coming to the ground was when I spoke to Brendon King about working at the club. I saw us play Leamington on a cold Tuesday night. We lost the game but I was immediately struck by the enormity of the club and it shows throughout.
• His time at the club
I was the clubs Goalkeeper Coach on a part-time and volunteering basis. I wanted to progress my coaching career and where better to do that than at a club like Weymouth? I ended up establishing myself as a GK coach under Brendon’s until unfortunately, Brendon’s time was up. I continued that role and Jason Matthews took up the managers position and he asked me to help him and we developed a solid working relationship. When he first took it on the team was under performing and our first remit at the point was to reduce the playing budget and getting things in order. Helping restructuring a club isn’t an easy task and some of the things we were doing were not easy. We wanted to try and develop a more young and upcoming model at the club but it’s a fine balance. At this point it was about getting into the next season ready to go again. The following summer when Jase fully took over, Craig Laird was his number two and we were well clear at the top. Unfortunately it was another case of under performing at the final part of the season, Craig left part way through. For me it was a step because I was a GK coach going into a roll left by Craig to help Jason, alongside Tim Sills. In Jason’s second season there were no play-offs but a second senior cup success. Unfortunately for Jase, in his final season it didn’t work out. There were too many draws and things didn’t go to plan and sadly he lost his job, but I have an awful lot of respect and time for Jase. There are things he admits that he could of done differently, but it’s a big club to manage for your first stab at management and make no mistake, Jase laid a lot of positive foundations. Mark and I were asked to manage until the end of that season. I was fortunate enough to be in the room when Mark Molesley outlined his vision for WFC. Steve Mills and the board made their minds up very quickly. It was seriously impressive. Fortunately for me, myself and Mark built a good relationship and we have the same ethos and way of thinking. Essentially, we were set a task of having to start again, making sure that whatever we did, that we did it on a sound financial footing. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a real journey. First year with Mark was above expectations with a young squad. Play-offs in the first season with 97 points! Due to Mark’s unwavering football commitments, I have filled in with more time of the arduous side of his job which is fine. I progressed to Director of Football. I have to admit, on match-day I find it hard at times and I almost feel like more of a fan than DOF. A DOF doesn’t work for everyone but it does for us. Tom Prodomo as our Assistant Manager, I cant stress enough just how much of a massive asset to WFC he is too. Whatever happens this weekend, they deserve an awful amount of credit for the work they do. Mark is a real taskmaster. You do have to be strong and every member of his team is vital. This is by far the most professional set up I have ever seen in non-league. Build on a foundation of hard work and graft. It’s been a rollercoaster ride with some high and low moments. Difficult conversations with players and great moments with players but it’s all part of it and of course it is necessary.
• His thoughts on how things are on and off the pitch
There has been a real progression at the club there is no doubt about it. I’ll be honest, some things have made me roll my eyes over the years to be fair. I spoke to the chairman (Ian White) this week and he said that it’s the first time we could gain promotion whilst doing it sustainably and keeping completely within budget. I’m well aware of the past at this club. As the person who is essentially responsible for the budget, I take great pride that we are doing this without having to break the bank or overspend. Another example of how far we have progressed as a club. It’s a far more proactive club now than it once was. We are very much establishing ourselves within the community again. The Youth section is great and we would absolutely love at one point to have a team full of players made up from our youth system at Weymouth but it is a fine balance. Not every decision has been agreed but I guarantee that everyone has the best interests of the club, the fans and the players at heart. The crowds are coming back and there is nothing better than a Tuesday night under lights at the Bob Lucas Stadium. It does genuinely inspire you. It gives you a sense of belonging that it wouldn’t do elsewhere. The atmosphere that is created in the ground is spine tingling.
• Thoughts on the season
I think we have had a good season. I think it’s worth remembering that we have spent a lot of the season without two big signings (Josh McQuoid and Warren Bentley). We have had lots of injuries but you can’t hide behind that and we won’t. We know that. It’s an exciting time. When the players were back with us in June, we discussed our plans and targets. I think if you told us at the start of the season that we’d be in this position now, we would’ve snapped your arm off. The season is 40 weeks, it’s 42 games. If we sit Saturday evening top of the pile we would have deserved it and if we don’t then it won’t quite be enough. The supporters have given us confidence in what they have done with the Wessex FF ran by Ian White. We are very fortunate for that as a club. How many clubs are fortunate enough to boost what we have in terms of that level of fundraising? It’s incredible.
• Thoughts on Saturday
It’s well documented what Saturday is. It’s arguably one of the more exciting leagues going. There was a lot of talk at the beginning of pre-season about the league not being as strong but it’s been a really nip and tuck league. As a supporter of any team in this league, it’s been exciting. Obviously ourselves and Taunton have been at the top for long periods but Salisbury, Poole, Hartley Whitney, Kings Langley, Hendon, Farnborough, Met Police have all been there and have all had good seasons. Last years top 5 finished so far ahead of the rest of the league. I remember talking to you at Merthyr thinking it might not have been our year. We then got an 8 point lead and to Taunton’s credit, they have dragged it back. It’s another game but ultimately these are the sorts of games that you strive to play in. We all play football because we love it, it’s our drug, we are all addicted to it. Some players in the game have never had this experience or an experience of say, a big cup final. Obviously there is an element of pressure but it can be managed and turned into s good thing. It’s something to embrace. It’s a huge occasion and hopefully we come over the line in first place.