Guest series: Jimmy meets………

Keaton Wood

The start of a new series and I’m pleased to say another new writer wanting to share their work on my blog. Jimmy Langton has compiled a whole raft of interviews with players from Bognor Regis Town over the past few months and this is one here is the first. Those of you of a green persuasion will know whose in the picture, for those who aren’t up first is Keaton Wood:

 

JL: Which clubs have you felt at home with?

KW: I would have to say both Bognor and Dartford. I have really enjoyed my time out of professional football, made better by the friends I have gotten to know and the coaches that have challenged me to develop and enjoy my football.

JL: Who’s the best manager you have played for and why?

KW: Tough one! Not sure I have a ‘best’ manager but certainly ones that have helped me throughout my career so far, Jack for his interpersonal skills and his friendship, Tony Burman at Darford for teaching me men’s football.

JL: Are there any role models you look up to and why?

KW: In my life, I would have to say my Dad. He has devoted so much time to making sure my mum and both my sister and I have had a good life. In football terms, it was always David Beckham. The way he played, I admired it, and when I got older I was able to understand and appreciate how he handled so much and still continued to be great!

JL: What was the reason for joining Bognor?

KW: I currently work at Southampton FC in their Academy coaching and couldn’t keep committing to travelling to Dartford; it was really tough driving 150 miles three times a week. Tony Burman was kind enough to put me in contact with Jack and that was that really.

JL: Did you have any trials at any higher league clubs?

KW: Yes, I was a part of Crystal Palace’s Academy where I didn’t gain a scholarship so I moved over to Millwall where I played that scholarship before gaining two professional contracts. I then moved to Dartford FC after getting my coaching job at Southampton.

JL: What’s your favourite football club? (Apart from Bognor, obviously!)

KW: Where I grew up in Ashford, Kent, my closest team was Gillingham and they were still 30 miles away so I didn’t grow up supporting my local side. I followed Arsenal because of my late Uncle although now I support England, of course, and follow Saints.

JL: Which coach do you feel you have benefited from most in your career?

KW: I have benefitted from all of my coaches I think, some more than others. I remember a coach from my younger years at Gillingham, he made me appreciate the time you had to put into your practice. At Millwall, David Livermore is the coach I admired the most, his detail and care for the individual, and how you’d fit into the team was great. He knew how to challenge each person to their respective level and always took time to plan methodically. I base a lot of my coaching on him to this day. Tony Burman taught me how I could enjoy non-league football and the competitive edge of that game. Jack and Robbie have shown me how to play entertaining football and how to win (only lately though, haha!).

JL: What’s your favourite colour?

KW: Blue.

JL:Who’s your best player you have played against?

KW: Wilfred Zaha was pretty good. I played against Palace for Millwall where they had Chamakh, Hangeland, Zaha, Ambrose and Speroni playing.

JL: Do you intend to go full-time into coaching when you have retired from playing?

KW: Always. Ever since I was little I was helping others to learn to play; up the park, the field. I didn’t think I would start that side of my career whilst still playing. I thought I would have had a longer, more successful professional career and coached alongside that, although I would say that I love what I do now and wouldn’t change it for anything.

JL: Why did you choose football?

KW: I don’t think any player can answer that. All I can remember is playing with my Dad when I was very small and just loving it. Always in football kits, always playing, smashing windows and annoying the neighbours. I find it amazing how something so simple on paper, kicking a ball into two uprights and a horizontal bar whilst keeping out of your own, can bring so much joy to so many.

JL;Who’s the best player you have played with and why?

KW: I like to think I have played with many, Shaun Williams at Millwall was technically amazing, along with Aiden O’Brien, Ben Thompson and Ebere Eze. I don’t want to offend anyone by missing someone out!!

You can follow Jimmy on Twitter, @JimmyLangton2

 

 

No relegation, regionalisation, it’s all going on!

NL logo

Here we are, mid-way through May and still no closer to the end of the season for National League clubs. Have we champions? Are the play-offs decided? Is anyone relegated? Well, of course we know none of that is ready to be answered yet, but why not?

Let’s start somewhere near the beginning if we can. Had the season concluded on time it would now be over and we’d all know where we are, but we are also all aware it’s far from being so clean cut. Whilst the remainder of the non-league game is beginning to put plans in place should there be a re-start of the new season on time the National League clubs are still in limbo.

Unable or not wiling to make a decision, make your own choice from that, until the EFL decide what they’re going to do is not doing anyone any favours. I can understand however their reluctance to finalise everything until the Premier League re-starts but promotion to the Football League needs to be determined or indeed relegation back the other way.

We’ll take one bit at a time here. If the EFL are expecting to promote clubs from Leagues One and Two and the Championship, then relegation has to take place as well in all three divisions and that includes Stevenage dropping out and into the National League. Their only saving grace would be the failures off the pitch causing Macclesfield Town points deductions pushing them close, but not close enough. Job done there, thats easy enough in my book.

However, at the top of the National League there’s more to it than we encountered above. Barrow arguably have been the stand-out side this season, but as the season was put on the hold the first wobbles were coming with eight or so games left to go. Harrogate Town and Notts County would both say they were in with a good shout of chasing down Barrow and over-taking them, especially as both challengers had to play the champions-elect. And why wouldn’t they, both sides in good form and comfortably able to continue their good form but three into two doesn’t go if you were to take still two promotion spots into the EFL.

Then we come to the play-off issues, is there realistically time to play the games before planning must begin ready for a new season should it kick off on time? Players need to know sooner rather than later if they are being kept on or released, some will already know regardless they are surplus to requirements, but for those unsure? It’s tough enough times for the average person job wise currently, add a few more bodies chasing a life outside of football and the harder it becomes.

Now should they decide the play-offs are to be played, I can’t see why the games can’t be played at neutral venues if they need to be, televised to give the clubs a little bit of exposure and income, even if it covers wages, travel and expenses to get the games done, the EFL can surely stretch to that considering the winner is going to be part of their competition next season. I would love them to be played as PPG would push my team Barnet into the final play-off place, but on the same scale time is running out as are player contracts, the decision on this needs to be made extremely quickly.

In the last few days we’ve seen talk of regionalising either League Two or the National League itself in order to reduce costs and hope on the other hand to increase crowds with less travelling for fans. Whilst it has been talked about for years, now the struggles have been plain to see for our clubs through this pandemic and in some respects the football landscape does need to change in some respects to ensure it’s survival.

Me, I can sit in both camps here for and against this particular change. If it changed to a full Southern based division then for me being based down on the very South Coast it would benefit me far more to get to more games in a season for less travelling time. A few years ago wouldn’t have made any difference to me, but times change through life and that scenario would fit much better for me, who knows in a few more years that might change again.

Now on the other hand, if it went regional I’d miss the trips north to obscure grounds in obscure places! Not so much recently with work and family life, but those times heading up and back down the M6 countless times over the years are part and parcel of the season and to not have the mix of north and south through the season would be detrimental I feel. The only thing I would ask is stopping the silly midweek trips for the likes of Carlisle or Blackpool to Plymouth or Portsmouth etc and vice versa, there are enough Saturdays in the season to stop this needless waste of time for fans, it’s now about time the fans came first once again, we’re going to get first hand experience of empty stadiums hosting games, lets not make that a full time reality……….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Dodd: I wasn’t expecting to leave

Terry Dodd

Earlier this week I popped a few questions across to former Wick FC boss Terry Dodd to find out how he felt last season went before it was made null and void, why he left Wick and what the future holds:

TK: Around a year ago you got offered your first job in management, what did you think when Kevin (Playle-Howard) phoned you up to offer you the job?

TD: A little bit surprised to be honest, I was actually thinking of hanging my boots up and getting back on the golf course! I thought about it for a week or so, spoke to ex-players and managers that I had played with for advice and then thought I’d give it a go and to be fair got the buzz back again for the game.

TK: Initially how did you find it having that responsibility off the pitch and how important was it to get a good backroom team?

TD: It was something totally different and I wasn’t expecting it to be as full on as it was, I was a bit naïve really! But it’s something that I really enjoyed and got a kick out of it! I knew I had to surround myself with experience as I was new into management and Julian (Curnow), Browner (Ian Browne) and Big Al (Alex Bryant) I had a whole load of knowledge which really helped, and we work well together.

TK Did you find it difficult or not to attract players to Wick given the budget wasn’t the biggest in the division?

TD: Between all of us we know a lot of players in and around Sussex football, so it wasn’t hard to attract players. I was straight with them from the start that there was only a win bonus but most of them weren’t bothered about money, they wanted to buy into what we were trying to do at the club which was progress game by game playing decent football.

TK: And before the season had been suspended how did you think the season had gone?

TD: Well considering we were a new management team and built the squad from scratch I’m chuffed with what we achieved, all the staff and players gave their all and I’m really proud of that! Our aim when we came in was to get promoted and at the time we were 4th in the table which would have seen us get promoted, so I’m really happy with how it went.

We were onto something special at Wick, I believe that there was a buzz around the team and I was gutted to tell my players who gave me 100% that it was all over.

TK: What moments from the season stand out for you?

TD: I enjoyed every minute of it, and I don’t think it’s moments that stand out for me, it was just the quality group of lads we had and everyone was in it together which is rare to find.

TK: Were u surprised to receive a phone call to say your services were no longer required at Crabtree Park?

TD: Yes I was a bit if I’m honest! We were going in the right direction as a club and that’s why I took the job in the first place, they were ambitious, and it appealed to me. They made themselves clear they wanted promotion and to push the club forward and we were succeeding in that!

Maybe the current climate had something to do with it but for whatever reason they want to do things on a much smaller budget next season and decided our ambitions didn’t match their own which is true. But there’s no hard feelings between us and I wish Wick Football Club all the best in the future.

TK: Had you already put a lot of plans in place for next season for whenever that is due to start?

TD: I had all of pre-season planned out, already I had players committed from last year’s squad and was also bringing in a few new ones to improve things, it was looking really good for next season.

TK: What next for Terry Dodd then?

TD: I haven’t really thought about it yet, I’ve had a few clubs interested thought in me playing for them, but if the right management job comes up I would be very interested in it! So, I’ll just see what happens over the next few weeks/months and make a decision from there.

My thanks to Terry for his time, all the best for the future.

Guest blog 5: You can change the name, but not the allegiance

Ebbsfleet_United_F.C._(logo)

It’s another guest blog this evening as we power on through May and this one comes from another Ebbsfleet Utd supporter Andy Yerlett, who focuses on when Gravesend & Northfleet jumped on the local bandwagon and became Ebbsfleet Utd. Here is his story and his opinion on the change:

In May 2007, the Board of Directors agreed a change of name for Gravesend & Northfleet FC to the present,  Ebbsfleet United. Was this a good or bad thing for the club and what effect does it impact upon the club today? In order to fully understand its impact, the history of the club needs to be looked at first.

Gravesend & Northfleet  was born out of an amalgamation between Gravesend United and Northfleet United 61 years earlier. Both sides had achieved a modicum of success with Northfleet being a nursery side for up and coming Tottenham Hotspur players, such as future managerial great, Bill Nicholson and a  young Ted Ditchburn being just two of many stars of the future, gracing Stonebridge Road.  The end of the Second World War saw both sides in dire straits. Gravesend having some managerial and playing staff intact but no ground and Northfleet having a decent ground with no  personnel. An amalgamation was the obvious choice.  Success in the 50’s then gave way to a rollercoaster of ups and downs in the following decades.

Gravesend & Northfleet supporters were used to changes in direction as the club had decided to move from the Southern League to the Isthmian League ten years earlier, but it was fair to say the name change was not met with universal acclaim.  The supporters, myself included,  were not happy at the lack of consultation.  However, after the rationale was explained, it became clear that the board had acted in the club’s best interests.  Ebbsfleet actually exists, it’s not a figment of the HighSpeed Links Imagination! And the football ground is situated within its environs, so the name has not just been conjured up, There were plans in place to build housing in the area for up to 40,000 people, and obviously the links with the railway station gave ample opportunity for the club to capitalize on its commercial potential.

Personally, although not happy, I could see and understand the need for a name change. I’m not sure how permanent this change would have been, but events both on and off the field in late  2007 where the MyFootballClub (MYFC) take over of the club produced an immediate upsurge in support of around  28,000 at its peak. These “new fans,” and the subsequent winning of the FA Trophy meant that the club was now identified positively as Ebbsfleet United and not “good old Gravesend & Northfleet.” The hardcore of 1,000 to 1,500 supporters really had no choice but to accept.

Over the years the name has settled more easily with these supporters, myself included. It helps that the club is mostly referred to as “The Fleet,”  The continuing ups
and downs on and off the pitch have really meant that most of us are happy just to have a club, especially playing at its highest level for many years. Commercially, I feel the club may not have not made the most of its commercial potential with a previously lucrative sponsorship with the railway station falling by the wayside as an example.

However, with  new and dynamic backroom staff being employed by the present owner. This is an avenue I feel may be explored again. The club, with its Ebbsfleet handle,  is now very much part of the community . This will only be enhanced by the fact that the building of Ebbsfleet Garden Village, with its huge potential fanbase, is now beginning to take place. Ebbsfleet United, as a name at least, is here to stay all the time a club is based in the area. Would I, personally, prefer to have seen the Gravesend & Northfleet name remain as it was? Absolutely yes, but then I think I may be very much in the minority these days.

Champions!

Hendo and Graz

Here we go with part two of the 2004/05 championship winning season ahead of the weekend interview with skipper Ian Hendon:

2005 began with the TV cameras at Underhill with local rivals Stevenage the visitors and after a Grazioli strike had put the Bees ahead only to be pegged back by the visitors just after half time, Ismail Yakabu’s header three minutes from time gave Barnet the three points and saw the first unveiling of the banner ‘Destiny will always take over’. A 1-1 draw at Woking and a 1-0 win over Exeter at Underhill sandwiched two cup games whilst a Roache goal at Burton Albion ended an unbeaten month for the Bees.

The first signs of a wobble appeared in February, three defeats in a row including an 4-1 loss to Carlisle in the FA Trophy, were followed by defeats to Hereford and Accrington Stanley and murmurs of discontent were coming off the pitch despite the Bees still holding a commanding lead over the Cumbrians. The slide was arrested with a 2-1 win at Underhill against Aldershot with goals from Strevens and Grazioli to close out the month.

However another loss followed midweek at struggling York City to begin March, but Fairclough’s men found their form once again and notched five successive victories in a row. A 3-0 win at lowly Leigh RMI was repeated the following Saturday against Crawley before recording the biggest win of the season, 7-1 over Farnborough at Underhill, a young keeper by the name of Jake Cole on the end of a Grazioli hat-trick. Good Friday took the Bees to the West Country and Forest Green backed by a huge travelling support and goals from Hatch and Strevens sent the Bees home with the win. The month ended with an Easter Monday victory over Canvey Island courtesy of Strevens third goal in as many games to leave Fairclough and Barnet just one win away from the title and promotion back to the Football League, all eyes were on Northwich Victoria in seven days’ time.

A trip up the M6 with John Cosgrove took us into a crowd of 1552 mainly consisting of visiting supporters including some who arrived in a limo ready for a promotion party. Unfortunately, the hosts played party poopers and with the Bees unable to get into top gear the Vics ran out 2-0 winners meaning three more points were still required to get over the line, the eyes moved back to Underhill the following Saturday.

To win a title in front of your own fans is something not all teams get the chance to do, but here we were. Almost 4000 packed into Underhill for the day, the title winning day. Halifax Town though, hadn’t read the script and took the lead early on. It looked for a while like Barnet weren’t destined to win the title yet, but Strevens again conjured up the equaliser and from that point there was only going to be one winner in this game!

King’s header put Barnet into the lead before Grazioli put the icing on the championship cake and for the second time Barnet were Conference Champions and back in the Football League with three games to spare.

A 1-1 draw at Morecambe followed where Fairclough opted to rest a few of his starting eleven, in mind the visit of Carlisle Utd coming midweek and the presentation of the championship trophy.

The Cumbrians failed in their quest to win the title and eager to avenge their 3-1 defeat back in October took the lead on the half hour before losing their discipline with two sending’s-off. Unfortunately, they failed to hold onto a lead as well, six minutes into stoppage time that man Grazioli popped up with a stunning overhead kick to start the celebrations with the final whistle moments later, as someone once said ‘Destiny will always take over’……….

The season ended with a guard of honour at Dagenham & Redbridge and defeat with the hosts comfortably winning 2-0, but the prize of a Football League place was won, and Barnet were once again heading into League Two.

 

Barnet 2004/05: Part 1

 

Grazioli and Bailey

With an interview with former Barnet player and manager Ian Hendon to come later this week I thought it’s the ideal time to take a look back at the 2004/05 season for Barnet FC. The season before had seen Martin Allen take the team into the play-off positions before leaving for Brentford.

Paul Fairclough took the reins alongside Hendon and Danny Maddix, the senior players asked to step between Allen and Fairclough, the club losing out to Shrewsbury in those play-offs on penalties.

Fairclough was appointed as manager full time after the season’s conclusion and set about shaping the squad to suit dynamic fast following football. With that came the signings of Nicky Bailey, Dean Sinclair, Ritchie Graham and Dwane Lee and a conversion to centre back for Simon King.

The season started well enough for the Bees, an opening day 3-1 win over Forest Green Rovers with two goals for talisman striker Giuliano Grazioli. Despite an uneventful 0-0 draw at Farnborough in midweek, one of the games of the season took place just a few days after where a trip to Halifax brought of the best and the worst in the squad. A poor first half saw the Bees 2-0 down at half time where a few choice words and tactical changes made all the difference as Barnet scored three times in the second half including a measured lob from Grazioli sealing the win on 69 minutes.

Normal service was resumed the following Saturday as Grazioli and Liam Hatch both scored for the second week running in a 4-0 win over Northwich Victoria, Hendon and Sinclair notching the others. Two days later the unbeaten Bees headed to Essex and a Sinclair winner in front of the away end at Canvey Island took Barnet to the top of the table as August finished, a lead that wasn’t to be lost all season, but little did we know how the season was going to unfold.

September began in style! Morecambe arrived at Underhill and kept the Bees scoreless at half time. The northerners even took the lead with 10 men, but Barnet for the first time in evidence just stepped up through the gears and promptly dispatched five past the Shrimps, two more for Grazioli, and once each for King, Hendon and a first in club colours for Bailey. This was the game where I genuinely thought we could win the title despite it being very early on in the season, so much so that me and a mate stuck a tenner on us to win at 15-1, not bad odds! The reason for thinking that was the ease in which we just motored past Morecambe as if they just weren’t there, one of the defining games of the season for me.

With further comfortable wins over Tamworth and Gravesend & Northfleet, Burton Albion inflicted the first defeat of the season on the Bees at Underhill followed by Scarborough heading home with a point, the month ending with a debut for new goalkeeper Scott Tynan in an LDV Vans win over local rivals Stevenage.

October began with two more Grazioli goals in a 2-2 draw with Woking, the third successive game without a win. What followed that was another season defining game in my opinion, a trip to fellow promotion hopefuls Exeter City. My reason for this one being on the list is the side Fairclough sent out was devoid of any senior players, I believe Dwane Lee at 24 was the oldest player to feature that evening, the average age of side being around 21! The way they just dismantled the home team without a care or fear in the world reinforced the view this side could comfortably win the title despite it being only three months into the season.

Two goals from the returning Hendon against Dagenham in a 5-0 rout in front of the TV cameras set up things nicely for a trip to closest challengers Carlisle Utd, the club who decided themselves they were going to win the title as they were the biggest club! Hendon led a very young Bees side missing both main strikers in Hatch and Grazioli, but such was the confidence running through the team you wouldn’t have known they were missing.

In front of the then record crowd for this level of 9215, Barnet went in front through a Hendon penalty inside the first five minutes and doubled the lead through an own goal on the half hour, that second goal had been coming with constant chances for a team missing their first choice strikers. Despite the hosts pulling one back on half time, Lee secured the win with a third goal 12 minutes from time and no less than Barnet had deserved, the Cumbrians not expecting to have been played off their own patch and the Bees extending their lead at the top over their northern rivals. A 4-0 win over York City at Underhill the following Saturday rounded off the month and a more than comfortable lead at the top of the table.

November brought another unbeaten month in the league, a 1-1 draw at Hereford was followed by wins over Accrington and Aldershot where King’s superb late winner left the Bees seven points clear at the top of the table.

A second hard fought win in a week heralded the beginning of December as goals from Bailey, Grazioli and Lee Roache saw the Bees to a 3-2 win over Leigh RMI. The midweek trip to Crawley provided the travelling Bees with three goals of the highest quality, two strikes from Grazioli, a deft finish on the volley and a sublime chip over the keeper but the goal of the night was saved by Sinclair in injury time from all of 35 yards crashing into the net for a 3-1 win. The scoreline was repeated at the weekend, Gravesend on the wrong end of it this time, Bailey, Hatch and Sinclair keeping the Bees clear of Carlisle at the top of the table.

The Cumbrians sensed a small ray of hope over the next two games, as Barnet recorded back to back defeats for the first time this season, a somewhat surprising 3-0 reverse at home to Tamworth was followed by a 2-1 Boxing Day defeat to local rivals Stevenage. However, the year finished with a win, Roache coming off the bench to score the winner in a 1-0 success over Scarborough.

As the New Year arrived, Barnet went into 2005 with a healthy lead over Carlisle Utd who were desperately hanging onto the coat tails as Stevenage headed to Underhill on New Years Day looking for a double………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Series: Neil Smith Best XI

Neil Smith

Earlier this year I made the trip to Hayes Lane, home of Bromley FC, for a sit down chat with the boss Neil Smith, the third National League manager I’ve been lucky enough to sit down so far.

Since then I’ve kept in touch with all three guys and last week we saw the best eleven players Eastleigh boss Ben Strevens had played with. This week Neil has put together his team and boy you won’t be disappointed when you see the players in his team that he has played with! Anyway, over to Neil for his selection:

‘To name the best eleven players I’ve played with is very hard and I was lucky enough to play with some tremendous players. Just looking at keepers I played with some fantastic ones, international goalkeepers in Ian Walker at Tottenham, Maik Taylor with Northern Ireland and Fulham, but to kick things off my number one is:

Jim Stanard -I played with Jim at Gillingham where he kept (I think it’s still the club record) 28 sheets in a season. I think we only let in seven goals at home that season and we went on to win promotion.

Steve Finnan – Played with Steve at Fulham where he was a right wing back and very tenacious. He was very fit, constantly up and down the line and never stopped. He looked after himself and was a fantastic pro, lucky enough to then go on to join Liverpool and win the Champions League.

Rufus Brevett – Rufus like Steve was a wing back at Fulham but on the left hand side, also very fit and created lots of goals. One of the hardest players I had the pleasure of being in the same team as, you didn’t want to be playing against him!

Philippe Albert – When Philippe came to Fulham he’d obviously come from Newcastle where he had been an absolute legend. He came in, he adjusted well and got on with the boys, he was an pleasure to play with and an outstanding player. I never thought I’d be playing with someone like Philippe when I first arrived at Fulham.

Chris Coleman – Fulham signed Chris from Blackburn and was one of the most expensive players to arrive at Craven Cottage at that time. Straight away he was named captain, he was a leader of men, led from the front and was fantastic on and off the pitch with his encouragement of everyone. He was strong in the air, quick across the ground and loved a tackle!

Kit Symons – Kit was signed from Manchester City and arrived at the same time as Chris, he was a Welsh international playing at the heart of our defence. Kit was fantastic in respect he read the game so well, again strong in the air and going in for a tackle. He scored vital goals when we needed one and again in the changing room he was a character popular amongst the boys and something that was needed when we won the championship.

Peter Beardsley – When we signed Peter at Fulham I thought it was a joke when I heard it! Someone of Peter’s experience playing for England in a World Cup semi-final, and the players he played with, it was outstanding for a club like Fulham at the time to sign him and yes he was coming to the end of his career, but for me it wasn’t just what he was doing on the pitch, it was the fact he was there for you to speak to, to ask advice, then on the pitch he would be constantly talking to you and running around as if he was still 19 years old, all because he wanted to do the best for Fulham Football Club and to help his team-mates.

Lee Clark – Paul Bracewell brought Lee Clark to Fulham, unfortunately to replace me! We played together in pre-season and then I couldn’t argue with someone like Lee taking my place. He was an outstanding player and again another northerner, an ex Newcastle player who was a great character in the dressing room and improved the team. A box to box midfielder with great energy and also popped up with goal every now and then.

Paul Peschisolido – When Pesh signed for us at Fulham he came with the reputation of scoring goals, and he certainly lived up to that! He was lively, kept running, chased lost causes and always came up with either a tap in or a fantastic strike like he did against Liverpool at Anfield. He was also quite a character who worked his socks off. I know Kevin took him under his wing and helped him, but he was already an outstanding player and again I’m very lucky to have played with someone like Pesh.

Paul Walsh – Paul was at Spurs when I was there along with so many talented players. I played with him in some pre-season games and I couldn’t believe how good he was. I had seen him play for Liverpool  and then Spurs, so when I got the chance to play in the same team as Paul you then really realise even more how good he was and probably should’ve been selected for England a few more times.

Dennis Bailey – Dennis signed for Gillingham from QPR. It was a massive signing for the club at the time bearing in mind the Gills had only been saved from going out of business the season before, but between Tony Pulis and Paul Scally, they managed to get him in. A great player who scored goals and set them up as well, he would work so hard for the team as well.’