TOWN have good reason to be grateful to Bristol City boss Gary Johnson.
That’s the view of Andy Ritchie, who has signed two players on loan from the West Country club this season (with Phil Jevons’ move becoming permanent) and also borrowed their training ground.
It proved useful, with the Friday afternoon work-out preceding last Saturday’s 2-0 win at Yeovil.
Ritchie, whose other recruit from Bristol was centre-back Richard Keogh, has followed the same formula for overnight trips this season, travelling on the morning of the day before, then having a training session in the afternoon before an evening meal and bed.
“I like that arrangement because otherwise, the players end up arriving at the hotel, having some food, then going to bed with the journey still in their legs,” explained the man who has overseen five away wins in League I so far this season.
“The snag is that you have to find somewhere to train en route, and that’s when you need to call in a few favours!”
Ritchie’s extensive contacts network means Town have stopped off at places as far afield as Eastleigh (before Bournemouth), West Ham’s academy base (Southend) and Crawley (Brighton).
Johnson, whose team tumbled to a 3-0 Championship defeat at QPR last Saturday, was the latest to play host, and Ritchie said: “Gary’s been really helpful to us in lots of ways this season.
“It’s not just the fact that he was willing to loan Richard and Phil out, but also the way he went about sorting it all out.”
Jevons made his 15th appearance for Town at Yeovil, where he played under Johnson, the former Cambridge and Latvia national manager who took the Somerset club into the Football League in 2003, then into League I in 2005 before leaving for Bristol City.
Republic of Ireland Under 21 player Keogh played 10 times while on loan in September and October and later had a seven-game stint at Carlisle, Town’s destination on Tuesday.
Keogh is now back at Bristol City, who won promotion from League I last season when both he and Jevons were regular performers.
Johnson, who has guided his side to third place in the Championship, has five players farmed out at the moment.
Jennison Myrie-Williams is at Tranmere, Kevin Betsy at Walsall, Steve Brooker and Alex Russell at Cheltenham, and Enoch Showunmi at Sheffield Wednesday.