Johnny Jarvis saves his best for rejuvenated Yarmouth Town
- Credit: Archant
A 'born-again' goalkeeper has emerged as the hero of the hour as Yarmouth Town booked their first cup final place for 10 years.
Johnny Jarvis was with Norwich City's Academy as a youngster, but having given up the gloves, joined the Bloaters as a full back last summer.
However, after a catalogue of injuries sidelined three custodians, manager Mike Derbyshire invited Jarvis to roll back the years – and soon discovered that the old talents remain very much intact.
The decision has been vindicated as Jarvis has produced a string of outstanding displays this year, culminating in the Thurlow Nunn League Division One KO Cup semi-final success over Ipswich Wanderers. Jarvis saved two spot-kicks as the Bloaters won a shoot-out 4-2 after 90 minutes. He had even volunteered to take the fifth penalty had he been required to. 'Johnny has been a revelation. His shot-stopping at this level is extraordinary,' said Derbyshire, whose supply of goalkeepers was exhausted after Portuguese stopper Alberto Lopez broke his collar bone in the pre-season Sailor Brown tournament at Gorleston, and Danny Cable and Ben Cudden suffered long-term injuries.
When they are all back in contention it promises to be an interesting battle for the No 1 jersey at the Wellesley.
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But on current form the vote has to go to the man in possession.
'Anybody would struggle to push Johnny out of that slot right now,' said Derbyshire.
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He is delighted that the Bloaters have found their feet again after last season's relegation nightmare, when the 117-year-old club's future was threatened by a cash and manpower crisis, only averted by the emergence of new main sponsor DSL and a crop of volunteers. The Bloaters only won two games out of 40, and Derbyshire, who had seen the players budget axed within weeks of arriving from Gorleston in September 2011, resigned after a defeat at Newmarket only to be talked out of it after the club committee voted to back him by a majority. In one of the all-time lows the Bloaters failed to raise a team for a league match at Wisbech in December that year, and were later fined by the league.
Despite heavy flak from critics as the defeats mounted, Derbyshire remained stoically at the helm as the campaign reached its inevitable conclusion but vowed to bounce back stronger.
And he has proved as good as his word, as a new-look team relying heavily on youth, has established itself in mid-division as well as booking the cup final date against Brightlingsea at Diss on May 10. Derbyshire denied that a desire to silence the critics had been a motivating factor this term.
'It's not about that. This season was all about making sure that the club got stable again and putting out a side that plays good football. It's not about me sticking fingers up at anybody.'
Under the stewardship of chairman Colin Jones, with his mantra of not living beyond their means, the club has been rebuilt with new faces on board and new youth teams added with a clear pathway for talent to rise through the ranks from under 7s upwards in a family-friendly set-up.
Some of the brightest stars have already been fast-tracked into first team action with the promise of more to come as the club pins its colours to the 'give youth a chance' mast. The prospect of a prime piece of silverware has only served to enhance an already buoyant mood. 'Getting to the cup final has given everybody a buzz. To be honest it's been a good season. Getting to the final is a reward for the efforts of the boys in what is a very young squad. I couldn't be more pleased,' said Derbyshire.