If you all work together you achieve success - Bobby Wilkinson

Bobby, an important point against Torquay. It wasn’t all three points, but you said you wanted a good performance and a point and we got exactly that. What were your thoughts?

It was a very good week to take two points against two of the league’s big boys. Of course, it was frustrating not to beat St Albans City, but to take a point on Saturday against a full-time unit with unbelievable resources showed just how far we’ve come in three months.

It definitely felt like two very good teams going at each other all game.

It was in cusps, wasn’t it?

One time they were on top, other times we were on top. Overall, a point was quite fair. Obviously it was disappointing not to take three, but we won’t be greedy. We’ve had a very good week.

You mentioned, after the game, how “loud and proud” the fans were. We speak about them on a regular basis, just how much of a role do they play in not only giving our players confidence, but also striking fear into the opposition?

We will always thank the fans, because they’re the ones that pay to see us. But, Saturday wasn’t about just thanking them. I like to give out my own man-of-the-match every week, and I thought they deserved it that day. They came out in their numbers to support the club, which just shows how together we all are, not just as a club but as a town. When we needed a bit of support, and when they needed a good performance from us, we came together. As a manager, I can’t thank them enough. We know how important they are with helping us build momentum and pick up points.

The player that was awarded man-of-the-match was Harvey Wiles-Richards. For a player to arrive and perform the way he did on his debut, how pleasing was that to see?

For Harvey to get man-of-the-match, it just made it an even better day, for him, the club, and myself. It’s very rewarding to see a loan player do well. It was a gamble to throw him in straight away, as he hadn’t played for a while, but getting that award showed it was the right decision.

But, it’s not just Harvey, we’ve brought in a lot of really good players from the National League and above. Every loanee this year has helped us. I’ve had to be very shrewd and business-like in the player market. I have to pick wisely and make sure we get the right loanee in. With a loanee, it can go wrong, so I’m very fortunate for it to have gone unbelievably well. I have to thank Bristol City for helping us out.

We also saw Leo Hamblin in the team of the week. He’s made an incredible amount of progress this season, hasn’t he?

I don’t think many had heard of Leo before he came to the club, but now everyone is talking about him. It’s no surprise that a few clubs are sniffing around him.

To bring someone in, it has to be the best player for our football club. Because of where we are, it’s difficult to keep a settled side, so we’re always fighting to make sure we’re better. This year has been really pleasing in terms of the quality of player, which is important as this is a squad I have had to build from scratch.

With the talk about building for the future, to have a player like him improve so much at the club, is that a key example of what you are trying to build?

Yes, for two reasons. We could have brought in a very experienced left-back, but that would have been a risk in terms of money. Instead, I went for a left-back that I had seen before. I knew I could get him to play the flowing style of football that I wanted the team to play. He’s adapted extremely well.

He has a lovely left foot and an unbelievable engine, but, most importantly, he’s a wonderful lad who wants to listen and learn. The fans love him and he wants to be here. Those are the players you want to bring to the club. Hopefully he’ll be here next year, and the year after. The important thing now is that we get all the boys tied down for next year.

Being an “unbelivable lad” seems to be the case with every player here. Teddy Howe spoke about how everyone in the dressing room “get[s] along.” That togetherness that has been spoken about many times really has started to come together over the course of this season.

If you all work together you achieve success. This is something that’s in my DNA, and it applies to everyone at the club. Not just the 11, or even the 16, I like to build off the pitch as well as on it. I think people are seeing that.

One thing we’ve shown as a group is that, when the chips are down, we suck it up and go to the next level. To pick up points against two of the league’s big boys was brilliant for them, because, before that, we had two games that weren’t brilliant. So, that’s the difference this year. With our difficult spells, we haven’t stayed there. We’ve adapted. I’m really Happy where we are right now; I just want us to pick up a few more wins.

Moving onto tomorrow, it’s our first game back on the road. Having just played four games in a row, will that be a challenge in itself?

I went to watch Aveley on Monday night. They’re a great unit, very fit and organised. So, we’re heading to a very tough ground. I was very impressed with them on Monday, when they got a point against Yeovil. I was also impressed when they came to our ground, but we managed to get a draw. This week, we have our own plans and tactics that we’ve been working on, which I’m very pleased with.

We’re up against a tough team, and then we’re back on the road on Tuesday night. Now we need to adapt to these situations.

You mentioned that they were a brilliant side when they faced us earlier this season, yet we still earned ourselves a point. Does that already show just how dangerous we can be against tomorrow’s opponents?

It does, but it comes back to the conversations we’ve had before. Aveley’s squad has been together for two or three seasons. That’s why they’ve had a brilliant season. You have to build teams in this league to make sure you’re near the top. That’s not rocket science. Credit to them.

But we are competing against these established teams, which can only be a good thing for us.

What it shows is how hard we work. The team, the management, the board, we all know we have to work harder than other sides. We understand that. We’re not afraid of challenges; we enjoy them.

Apart from a couple of matches this season, we’ve competed in every game.

As always, what has been the key message to the players going into tomorrow’s game?

Adapt your mindsets. Look forward to trying to pick up some more points. We’re going on the road for two very important games tomorrow and Tuesday.

Interview by
Jack Webb

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