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Woking up!

Posted on 19 October 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

In his short spell so far at Conference side Woking Shwan Jalal can certainly relate to the thinking behind a certain Spurs legend's catchphrase - football is a funny old game.

For a goalkeeper, joining a team that had conceded 19 goals in their previous four games could easily be considered a slightly daunting prospect, but Shwan's arrival signalled a noticeable upturn in the Surrey side's fortunes.

He was recruited on loan after impressing in a training ground friendly with Charlton two weeks ago in front of the watching Woking management.

His first outing was in a battling 2-2 draw with Burton Albion, which was followed by a commendable 1-1 away draw with last season's Conference runners-up Dagenham and Redbridge.

These results were a welcome boost for a club that had suffered seven straight defeats prior to this after leading the table early in the season. Manager Geoff Chapple was coming under fire from fans and must have felt his side were turning the corner.

But last weekend the roof caved in and Woking were routed at Southport by a 5-1 scoreline after leading 1-0 at the break.

"We got a draw against Burton and the players worked really hard," said Shwan, who still spends time at Spurs Lodge working on his game with Hans Segers. "When we came in after the game the manager said he saw the best work rate he had seen in the last five games. We then went to Dagenham and Redbridge and got a 1-1 draw - with ten men for 40 minutes.

"I don't know what happened at Southport because we were 1-0 up at half-time with the team playing for each other. In the second half everyone seemed to go into a daydream with nobody picking up.

"It happens in games, but when you're flirting with relegation you have to be 100 per cent at all times."

After the swift about turn in fortunes, manager Chapple on Monday decided enough was enough and called it day. He has been replaced by his former No.2 and ex-Southampton player Glenn Cockerill.

"I was there on the Monday, we got called in for training and, after that, Geoff came in and said he was resigning having taken the team as far as he could. The fans were giving him some stick but I don't think one man is to blame."

Despite the first couple of weeks of his loan being something of a roller coaster ride, Shwan can only see benefit in going out and getting games and experience under his belt.

"It's good to keep busy," added Shwan, who is one of five keepers trained by Segers. "It was hard to go from not playing for roughly seven weeks to playing three games in a week. It was good though and I'm feeling the benefit already and feel a lot sharper.

"Although I was a bit hesitant about moving because I thought I'd be forgotten about, people have watched me in the last three games and monitor me. I now think if I was here and not playing I would be more likely to be forgotten about. People are taking an interest in what I'm doing.

"Players are obviously not of the same standard as training with the likes of Teddy and Les, but I think that is all part of the learning curve. You are not always going to find players that are that good."

With a new boss in place, Woking are set to face a testing sequence of matches.

"We've got a tough week coming up. Chester, who are second in the league, at home then Luton in the LDV Vans Trophy. Everyone will be focused on playing a league team and then we've got the FA Cup after that."

Apart from the result at Southport, Shwan certainly appears to be plugging some of the leaks in the Woking rearguard and has considerably reduced the unwanted average of nearly five goals a game in the four before he arrived.

Cue a spot of modesty from our young keeper...

"I think so. It's now eight goals in three games so I don't know how good that is!"