Issue What happened to white boots?

As told by Michael Wood

Considering the anticipation I had at his every touch two years ago Tom Penford’s sudden and effective re-emergence blindsided me at Valley Parade on Saturday. Sure TP was on the bench but I had assumed that Colin Todd was engaged in more of a shirt filling exercise and that the player I saw so much potential in before would carry on as a reserve until he exited in the summer.

Penford arrived on the field and then arrived with his perfectly floated cross to Dean Windass and the rest is the future and at the moment that looks bright. Back in August Colin Todd had had the chance to release Penford but kept him on saying he saw something there but making it clear that something needed shaping.

Back when Penford made his debut against West Brom in 2003 blooding players was very much the order of the day. I was impressed by the languid style Penford has and his way of moving slowly with the ball to give himself more time on it. In a game crammed with players and managers who believe pace is the answer to all situations it was refreshing to see Penford style. Refreshing and reminiscent of Chris Waddle’s days at Valley Parade. Penford – born in Leeds but a childhood Bantams – had watched the former England man and learned.

However somewhat conversely to the problems with administration Penford and many of his peers found themselves further from the first team squad as the club rebuilt. Kevin Sanasy was exiled at Farsley Celtic in a kind of swap deal for 18 year old forward Nick Smith and the sense was that Penford would go in a similar direction. He still might – football is a game that punishes the player who rests on his laurels – but the chances of him leaving VP in the summer now seems greatly reduced.

So what has happened in the past few years to Penford. The one cross aside Penford’s contribution to the 1-1 draw with Swansea was significant and effective. It had the end product which Colin Todd used to talk to Ben Muirhead about and showed a talent, not a promise, for the future.

One can only guess. The work Colin Todd and Bobby Davison put in on the training ground has had hand in the development of Penford and who are being presented with chances at Valley Parade at the moment for sure but one suspects that they couple of months of league football when 17 which TP got has given him an understanding of what is required to make it in the game.

After a few months playing the men’s game a 16/17/18 player gets more focused on what will be required of them when they are older and the exceptions made for being a kid are peeled back for the player to be revealed. David Wetherall believes that Penford needs to build up his body and he is no doubt right but that point was probably apparent to the player back in 2004 and is something he has worked on. The 2006 Tom Penford got stuck in enough for my liking and looks like a guy who is serious about getting on in football. The white boots of two years ago were gone and replaced with businesslike black. The early blooding means that we are not fielding a 20 year old fresh face to be kicked about by senior professionals but a player who understands the requirements of league football.

The future for Penford is open now – one good performance needs to be built on – but that future could be bright because at the age of 20 City are producing a player not a prospect. Note that all this applies in equal measure to Danny Forrest who is loaned out at Halifax Town at present but like Penford will be hoping to have a future at the club he supports.

So to Yeovil and Penford hopes to maintain a place in the team. The haircut might be a bit Chris Martin but the attitude in his play and the play on the field is obviously more aimed at producing an end product and that is in no small part thanks to a early blooding in the City team.

A template for the future, so to speak.