Kikker chief sports writer Alexander Ögmundsson meets the team captain at Axle
Elliott Tennyson could not have imagined that at the ripe old age of 30 he would get his first professional start for the club he supported as a boy (although they were called Herefordshire United back then). It’s been a remarkable rise for the local Whelm boy, although he has been met more than half way by the remarkable fall of Club 957740.
I was a fan of The Apples back when they first started out, my Dad used to take me there, and although I was in their schoolboys team from the age of 13, I knew I would never be good enough to play for them. The fact that they have become so poor has been a blessing in disguise for me – I’m still not good enough to play for anyone decent, but the Gaffer rates me and I’ve done alright with the chance I’ve been given.
The Gaffer – Jonas Solksín – rates him highly enough to make him club captain. But not before he tried to sell him when he first arrived at the club just a few weeks ago.
He sat me down and said, “Look, Elliott, I like you, but you’re not going to be any use to me here. I need footballers. So you’re on the transfer list.” A week later, he calls me into the office and says, “Look, Elliott, I like you, and there have been no offers for you, so I’m making you club captain. I doubt you’ll get in the team, but it’s nice to have an old head around looking after all the new boys.” Another week later, he calls me into the office, and says, “Look, Elliott, I like you, and the new boys aren’t up to much yet, so you’re in the starting line-up on Sunday.”
He’s been there ever since. But it was a long and winding road to the first team for the man from Whelm.
When Herefordshire United got taken over by those Trubczechs, the first thing they did was disband the schools teams. I was fifteen then, and I joined the local boys team, Juventus Of Whelm. After one season I was signed by Whelm Town Welfare, where I stayed for most of my career.
In fact in his early career the utility man alternated between the Welfare and another local amateur side, Angers Irregulars, whilst earning a living delivering buns for the Golden Baps Bakery in Whelm. Eventually he established himself as a favourite in the Welfare side, and at the age of 27 Club 957740 finally came calling, after Tennyson led his team to the presitgious Clunwardineshire-just-Under-Salop County Alliance League & Cup double. Unfortunately for Tennyson, Club 957740 was under the guise of Arington at the time.
The manager then was Harvey Baker, and he had seen me play in the Alliance Cup final. He signed me as part of his ‘big new start’ scheme, but a week later, he was sacked. I spent three seasons in the reserves for Arington and Sporting United, but the only games I played were when I went on emergency loan to The Welfare a couple of times. I was about to retire and move back into the Bakery business when the Icelanders [present owners Icelandic Tundra Group] came along.
After a faltering start, almost leaving before he got a game, Tennyson has shot to the top of the list at Axle, but he’s realistic enough to know it won’t be forever.
If the right young player came in, I know I’d be out tomorrow. That’s football for you. But I’ve got my coaching badges, and worse comes to worst, I’ve got my baking badges too. People will always need good baps. That’s baking for you.
But Solskín may have other ideas. There is no doubt that Tennyson has won his manager’s approval the hard way, and he could well be rewarded with a longer-term future. Solskín often talks about building a family club, where players move into coaching, teaching, and other infrastructure work once their playing careers are over. Tennyson could be the first of them – whether as coach, or team baker, only time will tell.