Saturday 28th December 2019
The past decade has seen a number of highs and lows for Royal Wootton Bassett Town, and here is a selection of the best players to represent the club's first team during that time.
On reflection, the past decade has been a tumultuous one for Royal Wootton Bassett Town.
During those ten years the club's first team have experienced three changes of division – including one cruel demotion. Bassett have played at three home grounds – including two years in exile at Cirencester Town (whose generosity and support are not forgotten) after saying goodbye to Rylands Way in 2013, before finally moving to the New Gerard Buxton Sports Ground. Meanwhile, five different first team managers have served in that period.
Nevertheless, the past ten years have brought notable on-field successes. Silverware may have proven elusive. But the two promotions from Hellenic League Division One West (in 2009-10 and 2012-13) earned under Dave Turner's stewardship helped turn Bassett's on-field fortunes around. Bassett also went on a record run in the FA Cup, Turner's team reaching the second qualifying round in 2012-13, before matching their best ever FA Vase performance in 2017-18 when Rich Hunter's side made it to the second round.
Which players though have stood out the most and proven worthy of selection for Royal Wootton Bassett Town's 'Team of the Decade'?
Comprising players who have featured in seasons stretching from 2009-10 to the current campaign, here is the author's selection of those who have excelled most in blue and yellow over the last ten years:
Stewart Thompson - for the majority of the decade, Bassett have cycled through goalkeepers. However, at its start Thompson was a fixture in Dave Turner's successful sides. Making close to 150 appearances between 2008 and 2013, the outstanding shotstopper played a key role in delivering promotion in 2009-10 and performed excellently the following season in the Hellenic League Premier Division. Injuries would unfortunately limit Thompson's appearances over the next two seasons, though he still performed at a high level when available.
Honourable mention: Curtis Meare made 78 appearances as his time as Bassett's undisputed number one during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, earning Players' Player of the Year in the latter campaign. He has since gone on to win the Hellenic League Premier Division with Wantage Town.
Dale Richards – a product of Bassett's youth system, Richards has amassed more than 175 appearances since making his debut at the start of the 2014-15 campaign. He quickly established himself as first choice left back that year, though has also proven effective in a more advanced role, as evidenced by the eleven goals he scored in 2016-17. Travel and health issues (including heart surgery) have limited his appearances over the past couple of seasons, but he remains a dependable player thanks to his pace and energy.
Dan Comer – making his debut in senior football with Bassett in the 2015-16 season, Comer was a consistent quality performer at right back. Calm on the ball, solid in the tackle and demonstrating a maturity in his play, it was little surprise that Comer picked up the Manager's Player of the Year award in 2016-17. He has since gone on to win the Hellenic League Premier Division with Wantage Town and is currently plying his trade in the Southern League with Highworth Town.
Liam Edmondson - making over 200 appearances for Bassett after initially joining the club in 2008, Edmondson played a key role in both promotion winning campaigns during the decade. Commanding in the air and an excellent man-marker, he netted both Manager's and Players' Player of the Year awards in Bassett's 2010-11 Hellenic League Premier Division campaign.
Shaun Carter - a player in the same mould as Edmondson, Carter was another double Player of the Year award winner, claiming both prizes in 2012-13 as Bassett earned promotion from Division One West with a runners-up finish. Carter was another long-serving player during the decade and made close to 200 appearances for Bassett across five seasons. It is only fitting that Bassett's best centre half pairing over the past ten years are together in the team of the decade.
Honourable mentions: George Drewitt – yet another double Player of the Year award winner, this time in 2014-15 – deserves mention for his excellent performances over the course of three seasons after making a belated step up from Bassett's reserves. Club stalwarts Steve Yeardley and Adam Corcoran also had a good case for consideration, with both offering versatility to play either at centre half and full back. Having been a dependable, strong performer over the course of four and a half seasons – during which he helped secure two promotions, Craig Bowden is a little unfortunate not to have made the starting eleven at right back.
Brad Pagliaroli – in his season and a half so far with Bassett, Pagliaroli has been a shining light. While capable of playing through the middle, with his speed and great skill he has proven most effective playing out wide, in particular when cutting in onto his favoured left foot. Pagliaroli scored eighteen times in 40 appearances last season – including an impressive winner away against Leighton Town in the FA Cup – and is well on his way towards comfortably reaching double figures again this term.
Dan Bailey – a creative, hard-working midfielder with an eye for producing a spectacular goal, Bailey netted 33 times for Bassett in 142 appearances between 2014 and 2017. At times with Bassett he was perhaps a little underappreciated by his managers. However, he could always be relied upon to not only give his all, but also to come up with a vital assist or goal. Bailey was Bassett's leading appearance maker in 2014-15 and 2016-17 and also finished as top scorer in that first season, registering nineteen times. Now back with Fairford Town, he continues to be a reliable performer.
Sam Packer - If an award was to be given for Bassett's Player of the Decade, Packer would be the frontrunner. The cultured midfielder dazzled across seven seasons with Bassett, scoring 26 goals in 145 appearances while creating countless other goals. After initially joining in January 2011, Packer quickly established himself as a starter under Dave Turner. Combining clever movement with superb distribution and a willingness to also get stuck in, He was a player capable of transforming any game and, when at his best, was a joy to watch as he tormented opposing defences.
Matt Bown - Bown, who played for Bassett for three and a half seasons from 2009 to 2013, was the archetypal box-to-box midfielder. Full of energy and not afraid to make a tackle, Bown had an eye for goal too, scoring 18 times as he finished as Bassett's top scorer in 2011-12 – the year in which he collected both Manager's and Players' Player of the Year awards. He then registered nine times in the promotion winning campaign a season later.
Honourable mentions: While the biggest strengths of the two central midfielders selected were their ability to contribute when going forward, Bassett have also boasted a group of high-quality defensive midfielders during the decade – Richie Carter, James Turner, Matt Cheetham and Gio Wrona – all of whom have provided lengthy service to the club. Out wide, the contributions of Ryan Banks contributions at the start of the decade were hugely important, while in more recent years Harvey Scholes stood out for the creative spark he provided.
Steve Robertson – registering 73 goals in 98 appearances over the course of four different seasons, Robertson was the most prolific forward to wear Bassett colours in the last decade. Possessing a wicked left foot and a danger from set pieces, he proved capable of scoring all types of goal. Robertson first made his mark in 2012-13, scoring four goals in five games including a hat trick in the final first team game played at Rylands Way. He returned part way through the 2014-15 campaign, netting twelve times in sixteen appearances before notching 30 times in 38 matches on his way to picking up the Players' Player of the Year award a season later. 27 goals in 39 matches followed in 2016-17. Robertson has continued to be a thorn since leaving for Wantage Town and Shrivenham.
Sam Collier – originally joining Bassett as a left back in 2009-10, Collier's switch to centre forward proved transformational for his career and Bassett's fortunes. 22 goals that season, including stunning winners against Slimbridge and, then, on the final day of the season at Easington Sports, helped seal runners-up spot in Hellenic League Division One West and promotion for Bassett. He subsequently scored 26 times in 51 appearances a year later in the Premier Division. Brief stints with Bassett in 2011-12 and 2013-14 saw Collier continue to find the net on a regular basis, while he was again at the top of the scoring charts in 2017-18, finding the net eleven times.
Honourable mentions: In the first decade of the new Millennium, Bassett had strikers score twenty or more times in a season just twice (Lee Stoddart in 2000-01 and Shaun Terry in 2008-09). Over the last ten years, however, that has happened on six occasions, with Mark Barnes and TJ Bohane achieving that feat alongside Robertson and Collier. Barnes made a fantastic impression in his one season with the club, earning Hellenic League Division One West Player of the Year in 2012-13 with 32 goal in 36 games, while helping Bassett to earn promotion and reach the FA Cup second qualifying round. Meanwhile, Bohane has shone for Bassett at the end of the decade, finishing as last season's top scorer with twenty goals, while continuing to deliver the goods this year.
While he never achieved twenty goals in a season for Bassett, after joining in 2009-10 veteran forward Alex Green also proved a reliable goalscorer when available over the course of three injury-affected campaigns.
Manager's Player of the Year - Ryan Banks
Players' Player of the Year - Sam Collier
Manager's Player of the Year - Liam Edmondson
Players' Player of the Year - Liam Edmondson
Manager's Player of the Year - Matt Bown
Players' Player of the Year - Matt Bown
Manager's Player of the Year - Shaun Carter
Players' Player of the Year - Shaun Carter
Hellenic League Division One West Player of the Year - Mark Barnes
Manager's Player of the Year - Sam Ockwell
Players' Player of the Year - Steve Allison
Manager's Player of the Year - George Drewitt
Players' Player of the Year - George Drewitt
Manager's Player of the Year - Matt Cheetham
Players' Player of the Year - Steve Robertson
Manager's Player of the Year - Dan Comer
Players' Player of the Year - Curtis Meare
Manager's Player of the Year - Gio Wrona
Players' Player of the Year - Callum Wright
Supporters' Player of the Year - Gio Wrona
Manager's Player of the Year - Gio Wrona
Players' Player of the Year - Brad Pagliaroli
Supporters' Player of the Year - Brad Pagliaroli