Some fun bits and some serious stuff with Tomas Holy
16 September 2022
Keeper Tomas Holy kept clean sheet number three from seven league games at Field Mill on Tuesday night, but he surprised us on Thursday morning when we sat down to talk to him about it when he insisted that it wasn’t quite yet at his usual standard – something he’s looking to change as early as this weekend.
“I’m not delighted with it, no, to be fair,” he told us. “Three from seven isn’t even 50%, is it. We can discuss this after the weekend, because if I make it four out of eight that will be better, because then I’ll be at 50%. Then I can say yes, that’s a good start. Right now, I don’t think it’s enough.
“That’s my standard. When you look at my stats from previous seasons, I’ve always been at least at 50% for clean sheets. I need to get there. This is my standard, it’s what I want for me.
“It’s not something my manager or Gez said to me, it’s what I say to myself. I need to be more useful by getting more clean sheets. If I’m honest, three out of seven … no, I’m not pleased yet, not at all. I will get there, but no, not for now.
“We all know that teams that get clean sheets do well, yes, that’s true, but we can’t be just depending on clean sheets.
“One thing I always say and go back to, and it’s something I was told when I was 14 or 15, as a kid, is that you have to expect to concede at least one goal, even though you don’t want to.
“So, if you want to win a game you should score two or more goals, if you really want the three points. Clean sheets guarantee you don’t lose the game, but if you’re realistic you know you can’t depend on just that. That’s a risky way to do it. You need goals as well.”
Self-criticism aside, the big stopper is part of a defensive unit that is looking both solid and comfortable in its shape and work, with just one league defeat to blot the copybook so far.
“The way the back three are playing, it makes my job so much easier,” he agreed. “They’re willing to work their socks off, really hard, and they give nothing up.
“On Tuesday we saw that they threw themselves into blocks, they stopped so many balls and crosses, with headers, challenges, and I have to say especially the back three of Morgan, Mells and Hunts, they were everywhere for us.
“They won good tackles and got key touches on the ball, they worked so hard. Those three were important but every single one of the boys did their jobs defensively, even the strikers. They were getting back and helping out, and that’s so important because in modern football that’s where the defending starts.
“The boys were absolutely fantastic. It was a great performance and it’s just the cherry on top that was missing. Denno had that chance at the beginning of the second half, and honestly I can’t figure out mathematically how he could kick it over, but he just managed it somehow.
“It happens, and maybe we could have put one of our other chances away, and we had opportunities with counter-attacks, but it just didn’t go our way. Defensively the lads did an absolutely amazing job, and we are very happy with the point and clean sheet.
“If we can get three points on Saturday then it really will make it a fantastic week. But, you know what, Mansfield were fighting for promotion last season, I think they were very close, and it’s a tough place to go.
“I think the point is very valuable, along with the clean sheet as well, and come the end of the season I think we’ll see it as a good point. We need to get three at the weekend to make sure it’s an even better point for us and a good week.”
Shining through as we got more into the interview was just how comfortable he is in his surroundings, and how much he’s enjoying life with his new club.
“I think it’s a natural thing,” he told us. “It started with the very first conversations I had with Greg and the manager, and then with Gez. I felt welcome from then.
“The way they talked to me made me feel like it was an opportunity not to waste. I thought to myself, they want you, it’s clear they want you as a number one, now if you go there, go there and be number one, set the standards, and from day one it is only up to you.
“I knew if I did things right I would play 50+ games, and I can enjoy myself again. I came in and it started so well, it’s a great place to be. I felt that I was wanted here and the boys, even them, it’s not worth talking about that anymore, they’re such a bunch of fantastic guys.
“Everything has been so natural because I feel like I’m really welcome. Now I have to show the boys that I’m good at it, and I know there are still things I need to work on, but I woke up and chose to be part of this club.
“That’s where it starts, to be fair, with the relationships. And I can’t stop working hard, it’s every day for me. I need to work on distribution, making saves, everything. But I like to work hard, that’s what I do.
“The relationship between us four at the back, it is an important one, but we can never be satisfied and think it’s all ok just because of one or two results. It’s a long, long season and if we want to reach for something we have to keep going, and you only get that if you always work hard.”
There’s an ages old anecdote that suggests that the player who wears the gloves tends to be daft as a brush, and that was further confirmed at Brunton Park with the arrival of Mick Kelly, who joined the club at the end of July.
“He is an unbelievable guy,” Tomas commented. “I’m so pleased I’ve got someone like him. Both him and Gabe, honestly, these two guys are hilarious. In a serious way, and because he’s a funny guy, we work so well together.
“His accent is so funny and honestly, for two days when he first arrived, I couldn’t understand a thing he said. We’ve clicked, and I know when I ask him for an opinion he will be straight.
“He sees me from the other side when I’m in goal, or even during warm-ups, so if I ask if he thinks I was wrong with my starting position or anything else, he tells me how it is and I know I can count on him.
“I can take it from him 100% because he will never look to fool me or make me feel better. He tells the truth about everything. Our relationship is honest and friendly and it has to be that way. Gabe is the same, and he’s like our little baby who we look after. He’s our little brother.
“Those two and Scott, it’s competition, and that is always very healthy but, as I’ve said in other interviews, I wouldn’t even relax if he wasn’t here or if they weren’t here. I’m not the kind of person who steps back if there isn’t any competition.
“But obviously with Mick here it’s better because it means you can’t even think about relaxing, if you know what I mean. I have to be at my best, and he has to be at his best. We have to push each other.”
Already a very recognisable figure, he found himself going viral after Tuesday night’s away game due to some running repairs needed midway through the first half, after the nets had parted company with the crossbar and the post, bringing a temporary halt to the game.
“I knew that would come up, let’s act all surprised that you’ve asked me about it,” he joked. “I’ll tell you what I said to my parents yesterday – my mum was laughing so it’s all fine.
“With all respect to the boys who came to fix it, it’s not personal, but when I saw what those two clowns were doing for their circus act, because one of them was already putting his hands together for the other to climb on, and he was grabbing the post, so I said no, no, no, leave it, I’ll fix it for you.
“We didn’t have the time to fix the net and deal with an injury to one of those lads as well. I told them to give me the tape and let me get on it, and they could deal with it properly at half time.”
Adding to the sense of comedy was the belated arrival of a set of stepladders.
“The funniest thing was that he just kept standing there with his ladders because I don’t think he knew what he was supposed to do,” he laughed. “Doing what I did just came naturally. Why I wouldn’t have helped in that situation, I don’t know.
“I just wanted it fixed as quickly as possible. Those kinds of things don’t happen often, so when I saw it I told the ref, and he said that it needed to be fixed. That’s when you just want it done.
“What if they scored a worldie goal and it went through the net. But there was a moment in the game, I’m pleased people don’t talk about it, I’d rather they talk about this net fixing stuff than the situation that happened before.
“I don’t mind it. You can make light of it, and social media is the strongest and has the most power now in the world. I do love that, but sometimes the comments are painful to read.
“People are mean nowadays and it’s a shame when something that could be fun isn’t taken that way by some people. They don’t take it as a fun situation, they still take it seriously and say hurtful things about me.
“That’s a shame, but it is what it is. Even my mum, who has no idea how social media works, she doesn’t know it on her phone, or anything, and she was telling that she’d seen it multiple times, here, here and here.
“I said to her, how is this possible! You know what, my retirement is just round the corner, and I’ll need a job after it, so maybe I’ll be hired as a handyman or something like that. If you need any nets fixed on your goals, you know where to find me.
“I have my little box of tools. I said to my missus next time I might bring it to the games as well. What if they want to change bulbs at the stadium or something like that. No problem, to be fair, everybody now studies language, politics, law school, but being good at this job, like a handyman, I think it will be very valuable in my next years.
“Nobody really wants to do it. These jobs, when I want to fix something in my place, for example in Prague, I give a call to someone and he says yeah, but I’m only free next year. They are fully booked. People still want things fixing, but there are not many of us around these days.”
Some fun bits and some serious stuff with Tomas Holy