Reading City confirmed that striker Yashwa Romeo was joining the clubs squad for the 2019/20 Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division season so Football in Berkshire thought it high time we sat down with the man that has terrorised defences from the Southern League to the Isthmian League over the last 15 years.
Romeo joins City having served as assistant manager to Thames Valley League Premier Division champions Marlow United having first burst on to the scene as a free-scoring striker for Marlow in the Ryman League in the late 2000s.
Here, Yashwa talks openly about his reasons for joining Reading, his coaching ambitions, influences and why he wants to try and go again for one more season.
So you’ve signed for Reading City, that’s a bit out the blue! What’s made you make that move?
There’s been a couple of factors really, the biggest one was that I had a little baby who’s 10 months old and I changed my job role in the New Year when I was at Marlow United so basically it’s best for me to move clubs really with me being a family man! I thought about getting a club closer to home, I live in Reading and I spoke to City, Mortimer and Thatcham Development squad but it was Reading City to be honest because they are at a higher level and even when I was playing before hand I always said you should try and play at the highest level possible.
I gave Simon Johnson a call, we had a little discussion and he was very happy to have me on board.
I have spoken to Simon, he said he was delighted to get you, he said you approached him and you felt you had one more season in you?
Yeah I reached out to him, while I was at Thatcham Town on the management team and Marlow United on the management team, we won a couple of leagues and when I was training with the boys I still felt I had a little bit left in the tank.
I was training, competing and I though, you know what I think I am wasting a bit of myself not playing. I’ve got a bit of a hunger back for goals as well, I loved scoring goals when I was playing and I’ve got that little bit of hunger back. I want to score goals, I’ve got that desire back.
Reading City had a tough end to last season, did you get to watch them at all?
I didn’t, I went to watch them at the start of the season when the Grant’s were there but toward the of the season I was more focussed on Marlow. I did look out for results, I’ve got a couple of friends who played down there, Lorenzo [Medford], Austin [Best] and Cash [Adam Cashin-Murray] so I was looking out for results. They did have a tough time but they had a young squad. Were they prepared for what happened during the season? I don’t think so, I’m hoping that won’t be the case this year!
You mention Lorenzo, I think he’s the guy who’s quite vocal on the pitch! I was a big fan of him when I got down there to see them.
You need that. Especially with young players around him. Young people don’t talk really, they talk a lot off the pitch but on the pitch, they tend not to give information to each other. You’ve got to be peoples eyes and that’s what I am looking to do, help out a lot of people. Try and use my wealth of experience.
I’ll come on to your experience in a little bit because I’ve got a bone to pick with you!
Are you going to be doing any coaching at Reading?
Err, that hasn’t been discussed but I’d help out. I will give my words of wisdom in the changing rooms, I’ll be speaking to all the younger players, even the senior players, I’ll be speaking to people. I’ve got a couple of striking drills that I’ve got that we can work with if he is prepared to let me do it, not a problem!
Is coaching or management something you want to move in to going forward?
Yeah, I could go in to manage at any point in the future I think but if I didn’t go back and play another year while I can then I’d have regretted it. I know that. I am still looking to go in to managing and coaching afterwards though.
I mentioned your experience, you played for some pretty impressive teams and managers, Maidenhead United, Marlow, Slough Town and you’ve scored goals wherever you’ve gone, anything you can take from those – I’ll say more mature clubs, what can you take to Reading City?
The discipline side of things mainly, discipline. Playing for those sorts of clubs has made me – not so much off the pitch but on the pitch has made me a very disciplined person [laughs]. You know, turning up on time, even my coaching style – I make people run to cones, if you don’t run to the cones we go again, it’s all about being professional and doing everything right. Everything should be right, you shouldn’t be cheating. That’s what I pride myself on.
The main person who probably did that for me was Drax at Maidenhead United [long serving former manager Johnson Hippolyte]. When we were doing our warm up, it makes me laugh a little bit but when we’re jogging around doing the warm up people taking balls with them, you couldn’t do that at Maidenhead. He’d be like ‘leave the beeeping balls alone’, you are here to work!’
It’s a funny one thinking back!
I mentioned I had a bone to pick with you, as a Bracknell Town supporter for the last few decades and used to go home and away..
I know what you are going to say!
..when we used to see you on the team sheet, whether it was Slough or Marlow, we used to play Marlow six times a season we knew we were never going to get anywhere in that game because you were on the teamsheet! You were a pain in the back side, always scoring!
I do remember that actually, I think that was the first season I played at that level, the Ryman League [now Bostik League], we played you six times or so and I think I scored every game. I think my best game was at Larges Lane, I scored a 25-yarder on the half volley against your big goalie. Who was the centre back, worked for the Non League Paper [Stuart Hammonds], I used to have good battles with him which I liked. Some good duels against Bracknell but they are in a better place now aren’t they!
Main image: Yashwa Romeo playing for Marlow used with permission Maidenhead Advertiser.