A FEW short weeks ago, fly-half Chris Johnson could be excused for thinking his Fylde career was all at sea.
While not exactly floundering on the rocks, he was still enduring a frustrating spell on the sidelines after being dropped.
However, with his return to the side, the tide has turned, and Johnson and the team haven’t looked back.
Fylde have won all four matches with Johnson – in the words of coach Mark Nelson – ‘steering the ship’ from midfield.
Nelson is as pleased as anyone at Fylde that Johnson’s talents have come to the fore, repaying the faith that prompted him top bring Johnson to the Woodlands in the first place.
The Fylde coach said: “Maybe when I left him out of the side, Chris probably felt like sticking pins in me like a voodoo doll, but he isn’t the first player to do that and he probably won’t be the last either!
“I had seen something in Chris when he played for Lancashire and when he played for Huddersfield against us.
“He could have stayed within his comfort zone. keeping it simple and not testing himself at Huddersfield, content with just kicking for the corner behind a big pack.
“Though it look him time to adapt to the kind of high-pressure game we play, he is now in a position where he he is steering the ship for us.
“We like to think we have played a part in developing him into a better all-round player and helping his improvement to go on and maybe become a Championship player.”
Goalkicker Johnson says getting dropped was just the wake-up call he needed and he has now pinned down a regular place.
The four straight wins with Johnson at fly-half were climaxed by the outstanding win over table-toppers Ealing Trailfinders in Fylde’s latest National League One fixture last Saturday.
Johnson, who made a cross-Pennine switch at the start of the campaign, said settling into a new regime and team had not been entirely straightforward.
He admitted: “I came across from Huddersfield and it was difficult for me in the change of styles.
“Maybe Nelly (Mark Nelson) dropping me gave me a kick up the backside. I was very frustrated but I think I worked hard in training.
“I aked Nelly where I was going wrong and where I needed to put things right.
“He gave me that chance against Sedgley Park. I have taken things on board and just gone from there.
“I have come back, maybe with a different attitude, and now I am relishing playing.”
Johnson, in the side to visit Macclesfield tomorrow, said the win over Ealing was down to having the right mental and physical approach.
“It’s been coming and that’s four on the bounce now. For me the work ethic has improved massively.
“We went to Cinderford and we were poor in our attitude, but in these last four matches we have prepared properly, and you’ve seen people putting their bodes on the line and hitting people.
“Against good teams like Ealing, you have to be committed, otherwise they will walk right through you.
“Our attack was maybe not as good as it was against Rosslyn Park, when we were pretty clinical, but defensively we were just fantastic.
“But I don’t care whether we win by 3-0 – I just want to win.”
Johnson sees his long-term future at Fylde. “I come over from Huddersfield, so it is difficult in terms of the travel, but days when we beat Ealing with a big crowd definitely make me want to stay here.”
Huddersfield are becalmed at the bottom of Division Two North and booked for relegation, a source of sorrow to the Fylde fly-half.
He said: “A lot of things have happened at Huddersfield. Some good players have left, outstanding players who would benefit from coming over to Fylde actually. They seem to be getting themselves back on track in organising themselves for next year, and the first thing I do after a game is check their result.”
Like the rest of the squad, Johnson is hoping to maintain the winning impetus, and although it may sound a cliche, he asserts any club in National One can beat any other.
“If we can play like we did against Ealing, we can beat pretty much anyone.”