We'll have a fight to keep Whitehouse, admits Farnie - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Monday 10th April 2006

Tunbridge Wells manager Martin Farnie admits he has a fight on his hands to persuade goalkeeper John Whitehouse to stay at Culverden Stadium, writes Stephen McCartney.

The former Greenwich Borough and Ashford Town goalkeeper made a string of fine saves throughout yesterday’s Kent Senior Trophy Final against VCD Athletic, and although his side lost 3-1 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after extra time, the South Londoner deserved his man-of-the-match accolade.

“He was the best player on the pitch by a streak,” praised Farnie. “He made four outstanding saves and I think he’s the best goalkeeper in the league by a long, long way.”

Farnie revealed Whitehouse was “on-loan” from Southern League side Dartford, and with Darts boss Tony Burman in the crowd at Park View Road, Farnie knows it is going to be tough to keep Whitehouse.

But whether Whitehouse returns to Dartford is another matter as ever-present stopper Kevin Hudson has also been in fine form throughout this campaign as the Darts chase that final play-off spot.

“We’ll have a tough job keeping hold of him next year on that performance,” admitted Farnie.

“We’ll have to see but he deserved his award because he was he was the best player on the pitch today. He was one of those that stood up and be counted for us.”

Farnie added: “He came to this club when I wasn’t here. He signed for Dartford so effectively he’s been on loan from Dartford all season to us and I’m surprised he’s stayed.

“But he likes it here, he’s a good goalkeeper and I want to try to keep him for next year.

“I’ve spoken to him already, hopefully we can sort something out. We need top players if we want to move up and progress - we need players like John Whitehouse.”

Having won three penalty shoot-outs this season, including their record breaking 40 penalty shoot out in their 16-15 win over Littlehampton Town in the preliminary round of the FA Cup back in August, Farnie was disappointed that his side’s luck ran out.

“Really disappointed for the boys as I thought they worked our nuts off,” he said. “I thought we had chances to win it. They had chances and I thought it was a fairly even game.

“Our luck on penalties had to run out at same time. We’ve had four penalty competitions, we’ve won three and lost one. What a time to do it? The most important one was today and we lost it but we’re all disappointed.”

Farnie’s side had four golden opportunities in the first period of extra time to go on and win the game - Dave Hassett going the closest when his shot smacked off the top of the near upright.

“I thought we could have won it in extra-time,” Farnie said. “I thought we were the stronger side in extra-time.

“But to be fair to them their a well-organised disciplined side and it’s unfortunate to lose like that today.”

Farnie’s side have three league games left to play in a campaign that they’ve under-performed in the league this season.

But the former Dartford coach, who played in four cup finals for Tunbridge Wells - winning two - hopes yesterday’s final gives his players the hunger to return stronger next season.

Lordswood are the visitors to Culverden Stadium on Wednesday night and they end their campaign at home to Whitstable Town on 22nd April, when Foresters players and families are invited to attend.

But the Wells players won’t be expecting coach travel, breakfast and five-star treatment before their trip to Deal Town on Easter Monday.

A mention must go to Judy and Del Farnie for their efforts before and after the cup final for making the Wells players feel special.

The players were treated to a meal following their training session on Friday night, and a breakfast on Sunday morning but the players returned to the club after the match disappointed that they didn’ t bring something home with them.

“We’ve had a great day,” said the Wells boss. “They’ve laid on a fantastic breakfast for us today and done everything spot on today and I can’t ask for anymore from the football club.

“I know the club haven’t been to a cup final for 14 years but I said to the boys about getting to cup finals, winning things and getting a taste for it.

“We’ve had a taste for this and I want more as a manager. We’ll work hard in the summer to get us the success I think we deserve.”

Club officials ask the Wells faithful that made the trip to Park View Road yesterday to support the club in their real “bread and butter” of Kent League football on Wednesday night when Lordswood visit Culverden Stadium.

Tunbridge Wells v Lordswood
Kentish Observer League
Wednesday 12th April 2006
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Culverden Stadium, Culverden Down, Tunbridge Wells