THERE’S a school of thought in football that come success or failure, it’s all about the players.
But regardless of the validity of that view, there is always a man behind the scenes pulling the strings, and in Supermarine’s case that man is Dave Webb.
Arriving at South Marston this summer off the back of a successful spell with Hellenic Premier outfit Highworth, boss Webb was nonetheless untested at Southern League level.
Sure, he had a Challenge Cup and Wiltshire Senior Cup wins on his CV from his spell at the Elms, but that would count for little if he could not live up to supporters’ faith that he was the right man for the job.
With Supermarine relegated from the Southern Premier the previous season under Gary Horgan and Matt Robinson, plainly the squad needed shaking up, and that was exactly what Webb did.
The obvious resource was Highworth and Webb duly raided his old haunt, with multiple players including Josh Parsons, Craig Curtis and Danny Hilder making the short move south.
That was a strategy that raised eyebrows, given that Webb was placing faith in footballers who were established at the level below but no higher, and trusting that they would be able to blend with the handful of squad members who had decided to stay on from the 2011/12 season, such as Dave Bampton, Ash Edenborough and Danny Allen.
However, half way through the season, the manager’s decision appears to have been vindicated.
After a modest opening month, Supermarine now currently occupy third place in the division and are on a club record winning run of 10 games, with the return of 2010 FA Cup hero Chris Taylor on an indefinite loan only improving matters further.
Webb might have been responsible for constructing the squad and laying out the style in which he wanted his team to play, but as far as he is concerned, it IS all about the players.
“We were lucky to have had as many good players as we did at Highworth,” said Webb.
“With the lads that came with me, it’s not like they hadn’t had exposure to Southern League football before. Every single player I brought here had had a little taste of it but probably the time wasn’t right.
“The ones that did come I felt were the right age and could adapt themselves to it. They had the physicality and the quality that we needed and could mix in with the players that were already here.
“I expect some of the lads at the club thought, ‘who are these lads?’, but if you talk to them now, they think the new players are good enough.
“Yes, they will make a few mistakes, but they have adapted exceptionally well and that’s definitely helped our success because they have done really well.
“The ones that stayed showed a real commitment to the club by agreeing to lower wages and if we win promotion they will have their reward.
“They have been a superb help to the lads that have come in and without them it wouldn’t have worked. They are all working hard together as a team and without that we would still be doing what we were earlier in the season.
“It was never going to click straight away, but we’ve finally got a squad that is fairly settled - they are a good bunch who all work hard and that’s the secret.
“There’s nobody there that’s not a part of what we try and do.”
What Marine are doing is impressive, and Webb freely admits there are plenty of people surprised that the opening five months of the campaign have gone so smoothly.
However, he warned that no prizes are handed out at the mid-point of the season, and that as things stand, he and his team have ultimately achieved little.
“No one could have been expecting us to do as well as we are, but if we end up 10th it will count for nothing,” he said.
“If we want to be in the play-offs or dare I say it, challenging for the title, we’ve got to keep it going.
“It’s my job to keep the players focused on that because none of us want to go back to where we were when we were conceding silly goals. We’re going to lose a game, we know that, what we’re looking for is a reaction when it happens.”
- Supermarine’s Wiltshire Premier Shield final against Salisbury City has been arranged for Wednesday, January 16 with kick-off at 7.45pm.