IN the space of just six years, Yeovil Town had fallen from the dizzy heights of the Championship to what seemed like a truly devastating drop back into Non-League football.
But in the summer of 2019, something was about to change – on and off the field. Darren Sarll filled Yeovil with optimism thanks to the breadth of experience he brought to his new-look side and none more so than his third signing as the Glovers’ gaffer – Football League veteran Lee Collins.
At the time, our new captain – who had more than 350 league appearances to his name – said: “I am not here to make friends, I am here to win.”
It was exactly what we needed – and he didn’t let us down.
The truth, though, is that our captain did make friends whilst also commanding respect. The tributes pouring for Lee in over the past few days have shown just that.
To mourn the loss of a player at the age of 32 is incomprehensible and this feeling of shock will remain for a long time – both in Yeovil and in football.
Lee’s last appearance for Yeovil Town was one in which he was sent off for a crunching tackle and while he would have felt he had let his team down – who were losing 1-0 at the time – it actually epitomised his commitment to leaving everything on the pitch.
He was an old-fashioned centre half who taught young players how to be fully committed to the cause and, under that tough exterior, he loved celebrating victories with the Yeovil fans. After so many years of poor performances, we had a real connection to our club again and Lee was at the heart of that.
Lee was full of smiles when we won and sheer determination to be better when we lost. That is a true professional. I know I speak for Yeovil Town fans when I say that Huish Park was a better place with him on the field. Our captain, always.