Long Read

Hill: Weymouth is a special place for me

by: theterras

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Garry Hill had not spoken in depth about his time at Weymouth Football Club until last weekend. 13 years on from his shock sacking by Martyn Harrison, Hill opened up to uptheterras.co.uk about his side of the events. Many sides of his time at the club have already been discussed, shared and debated, but yet the man at the centre of it all had never had the platform to put forward his account.

A whirlwind of a 20 month spell in charge of the club saw Hill turn around Weymouth’s fortunes and secure promotion to the Conference and take the Terras on two memorable FA Cup runs.

Hill first came to Weymouth fans’ attention when his Dagenham and Redbridge side met the Terras in the FA Trophy in 2001. Dagenham and Redbridge were flying in the Conference and had set up a replay with Premier League side Chartlon Athletic, in a turn up for the books Weymouth won 1-0 on that day with a goal from Lee Phillips, an event Hill admits Weymouth fans weren’t shy to remind him of.

“I had been reminded so many times of the Lee Phillips goal at Dagenham,” Hill tells uptheterras.co.uk. “Because we didn’t lose many at home that season, every time I went to Weymouth I got reminded that they knocked me out of the Trophy, and they did! There were a lot of Weymouth fans who went to Dagenham on that day.”

Hill came up against Weymouth again when he was manager of Hornchurch in the 2004-05 season of the Conference South. Hornchurch had come into some money and were being dubbed the Non-League Chelsea, Hill assembled an impressive squad at the Essex based side and were strong favourites to win the Conference South title.

Despite Gary Calder, who was then Hornchurch’s Chairman, denying that their wage bill had not seen that much of an increase, reports were that the Urchins were paying £1.2 million a year in wages.

Steve Claridge took his Weymouth side to Hornchurch in August 2004 and was beaten 2-1 by Hill’s Urchins. Claridge would only last a further 6 weeks at Weymouth before being sacked, Hornchurch entered into administration in January 2005 and Hill left the club.

With Hill now looking for work, Weymouth were coming towards the end of an underwhelming spell under manager Steve Johnson. By March 2005, there were strong rumours that Weymouth Chairman Martyn Harrison had already been touting Garry Hill as Johnson’s successor.

Inadvertently, the first Hill knew of the interest was when he received a call from a local journalist.

“I got the call totally out of the blue from Matt Pitman who used to work for the Dorset Echo,” continues Hill. “The only time I had seen Weymouth before was when I had seen them play in the FA Cup whilst I was at Hornchurch, I went to watch them down at Thame with no idea that I’d ever get the call.

“Matt Pitman called me one day, but without being rude to Matt at the time I said ‘Can I take your number and call you back?’. I think he was just inquiring at the time to see if I did have any interest, but that was the start of it. Martyn Harrison called me and I went to meet him, have a chat with him and see what his plans were going forward and what he was trying to do with Weymouth Football Club.

“I had heard and was aware of what a big football club Weymouth was, but I hadn’t been down there. After talking to Martyn Harrison, I drove down to Weymouth, had a look at the stadium and at the town. I walked out to the centre-circle of the pitch, looked around at the ground and I had a picture in my mind, I could tell straight away that it was a challenge which was going to be something special. I had this thing in my mind that I was going to get as many supporters there and the town having a football club and team to be proud of.”

Despite his relative lack of knowledge of Weymouth as a club, Hill soon became aware of the potential of the club and how desperately the fans yearned to see their side return to the top-flight of Non-League. The prospect of managing Weymouth proved to be enough to tempt Hill to relocate to the South Coast.

With 10 games remaining of the 2004/05 Conference South season Garry Hill was appointed as Weymouth manager. Cherry-picked from a shortlist including Jimmy Quinn, Steve King, and Stuart Morgan, Hill’s first task was to keep the Terras in the division, he did so, easily, winning 8 of the remaining fixtures. Weymouth finished 2 points outside the play-offs.

“I made a few inquiries and people told me ‘Garry, that is a big club and if you get that club rocking then that will be something special.’” Explains Hill. “When I came to Weymouth I realised how big it was, when I say it’s a massive club, I’ve had that experience of managing the club.

“It was a challenge for myself, going to live in the south and it was a big step having to move away from home for a couple of years. I will always have very fond memories of not only knowing Weymouth as a football club, but the supporters and the people of Weymouth.

“It was a case of me living there and my wife coming down once during the week or at weekends and a massive part of my life and my football career was down at Weymouth so the supporters and the people down there will always be very, very special to me. I still look for all their results now.

“As the manager, everyone was very gracious and good around the town, the club had been out the top-flight of Non-League football for nearly 20-odd years, and that’s when Martyn Harrison said they’ve got to go back, we’ve got to get the club back and push on.

“I knew it was a big challenge, but it was probably more of a challenge to move away from your home and be 200 miles away and go to a club which was hoping to go back into the top division again, and to win it in the first season was one of the biggest highlights of my footballing career as a manager.”

But Garry’s title win with Weymouth was not without its fair share of drama. The fixture list threw up an enticing encounter on the Easter Bank Holiday between the top two sides in the Conference South, Weymouth and St Albans City. In a match which was dubbed as a winner takes all, Weymouth found themselves playing the majority of the game with just 10-men.

“Going into the St Alban’s game, people were saying to me that I’ll really see the fans turn out,” recalls Hill. “The fans were brilliant home and away, the crowds were increasing all the time, but there were over 5,000 there, for a Conference South game! We weren’t talking about a local derby.

“5,000 was when it really did hit home to me, when I went to Weymouth and stood in the centre-circle of the empty stadium and thought how big this football club could be, this was the day when it did hit home because it was absolutely rocking.

“I don’t think, in all the years I’ve been involved in football, nearly 30 years, that for a league game at home I’ve ever had a team and crowd rocking like that, it was very special. We won the game 3-2 and I think I was absolutely exhausted after the game, as a manager you put yourself under so much pressure.”

It is still regarded as one of the most thrilling games to have ever been played at the Wessex stadium. The title felt as though it had been won, Martyn Harrison was out on the pitch after the game giving every fan a high-five during his lap of honour. There were only two games remaining and beating St Albans City meant all Weymouth had to win at mid-table Bishop’s Stortford to secure the league title.

“I must be honest, we thought we had won the league at Bishop’s Stortford. We went up there and won 2-0 but weren’t sure whether we were over the line or not because I had got a knock on the door one day from Gary Calder saying that we could lose a couple of points.

“I thought it was a wind-up at first, but when he told me I was the same as everybody else and a bit taken back by it, but we got the job done at Bishop’s Stortford.”

An issue with Solomon Taiwo’s registration at the start of the season led to a four-point deduction and meant that Weymouth had to beat Lewes on the last day of the season to guarantee the title. Ironically, Taiwo’s involvement with the Terras had been so fleeting that it led many fans to ask ‘who?’.

Weymouth beat Lewes in the last game and were safe in the knowledge that they could be officially crowned champions.

“The team and the squad, I don’t just mean as a squad of players, I mean all around, everyone was pulling their weight,” says Hill. “It was exciting times and it was very high up there in what I had achieved in the past, in respects to winning league titles and FA Cup runs. It was very special to be at Weymouth.”

The FA Cup run that season is by no means forgotten amongst the title victory and return to the Conference, if anything the games against Nottingham Forest that season are more talked about to this day than the title.

Weymouth had seen off Weston Super Mare and Bath City in the early qualifying rounds, before overcoming Cambridge United of the Conference to set up a mouth-watering tie away to Nottingham Forest.

Forest, who were playing in the top flight until 1999, had only been relegated from the Championship the season before and were regarded as the biggest side in the first round that season. The draw was celebrated in the club bar almost as passionately as the two goals which had been scored against Cambridge United.

“I remember us going up to the City Ground at Forest, you’re going to a club where not that many years ago before that used to be English football champions, European Cup winners and everything else,” Hill continues. “It was a very special game to go to.”

“When we walked out at the stadium it really hit home to me. We really fancied ourselves going up there, with the squad of players we had it didn’t matter who we played, we wanted it and fancied ourselves that we could beat anyone, it was a very good squad of players.

“To walk out on that pitch at quarter to three and to look to the right-hand side lower tier and see those Weymouth fans there, the noise they made was absolutely deafening. For a game with away support where we’ve taken 2,000 fans and outsang the Forest fans, it’s unbelievable.”

Weymouth held the former European Cup winners 1-1 at their own ground to set up a replay at the Wessex Stadium. The unlikely Weymouth scorer was defensive-midfielder Any Harris who out jumped Wes Morgan to get on the end of Shaun Wilkinson’s corner. The Terras perhaps should have won, Jason Matthews had a quietish afternoon in the Weymouth goal and upfront Kirk Jackson had a golden opportunity to win it.

“I think it’s the first time ever Andy Harris headed the ball in the right direction,” laughs Hill. “You can look back on things but in the last 25 minutes we should have finished the game off, we had Forest on the ropes.

“Gary Megson was their manager at the time and he wasn’t having the best of times at Forest, the fans were turning on him and they were turning on him in the game because we were getting on top and getting hold of the game, we were having chances and had a gilt-edged which didn’t go in, a ball into the box and Kirk Jackson got on the end of it, I thought it’s in. 99 times out of 100 the ball would be nestling in the back of the net, but it wasn’t to be.

“We came off the pitch and went to the far end to our support, the Forest fans stayed behind to clap us but the noise from the Weymouth fans was absolutely brilliant. They stayed long after the game, we were all celebrating with each other, the players and the fans. It was a very special game, there’s no doubt about that.

“We were then getting ready for the replay, we were chasing everything really at that time. Winning the Conference South and sitting up there in a high league position and having the FA Cup games as well, the club was really going in the right direction.”

The official attendance was announced as 6,500 for the return fixture as Weymouth fans crammed themselves into the Wessex Stadium to help break it’s attendance record. Media interest in the club gathered after Weymouth’s performance at the City Ground and Sky Sports were in attendance to show the game live.

“We had the replay down at the Wessex Stadium, which was another night on a Tuesday and they beat us 2-0 but we were a little bit unlucky that night. It was on Sky TV, the stadium was full, we hit the post early on and again 99 times out of 100 it hits the post and goes in, Chukki Eribenne it was.

“I thought that we needed to get in front, if we had with the crowd behind us that would’ve roared us home, but we didn’t have that little bit of luck that you need or deserved. We did deserve it after going to Forest, because we didn’t go there and sit back like Jose Mourinho would say and park the bus, we went there toe-to-toe to go and win the game.

“We didn’t think that we had to defend and try and get them back to the Wessex, we went there to win at Forest and we went there at the Wessex Stadium to win the game there. It was little margins; that could have been the day that we beat Forest on TV and set the club on a cup run even more further.”

Hill now had to prepare Weymouth for a season in the Conference, something a Weymouth manager hadn’t had to do since the 1988/89 season. With Martyn Harrison as Chairman, Weymouth weren’t expected to be also-rans either.

That Summer differed from his first at the club, Hill explains. “When I came and was installed at Weymouth manager, I had about two months left of the season which gave me a little bit of an insight to go into the end of the season. I knew what I wanted or needed to win the Conference South or be competitive in that.

“Martyn Harrison had these plans in place, the way I looked at Martyn was that he was a very private person and I got on very well with him, but he said that this was his plans going forward, it was not only about the football team or the football club, it was about his other business interests that he had around the Weymouth area, he wanted to push on with those and he wanted a football club which was going in the right direction.

“We started off bare, the squad was getting stronger so we had to say goodbye to some players who had been favourites there in the past but weren’t part of the plans going forward, which is never easy. But when we got that job done, I felt that going into the summer period of competing in the Conference that we had a fair base there straight away.

“Martyn said ‘What are you feeling?’ and I said I felt that we needed a few more in but it’s very important that if you want to go this way, we fetch players and their families to be part of it, go into a full-time structure where we have players living within a 30 miles radius of Weymouth, so they had to uproot.

“There were certain players who had been kept at the football club before I came to the club, and were a major part of winning the Conference South and were now going to be part of a side playing in the Conference.”

Hill’s Weymouth took to the higher level well, Ben Smith scoring a couple of seconds into the season set a precedent for what was to come. 4 games in and the Terras had picked up a maximum 12 points, the real litmus test was to come in the fifth game of the season in the shape of Oxford United visiting the Wessex Stadium.

“We started the season very, very well,” recalls Hill. “I remember that game against Oxford United on the bank holiday which we drew, I remember there was another big crowd there then.

“Momentum was growing, there was no doubt about it, I honestly did believed in what we were doing at the football club at the time, don’t get me wrong players were getting a good wage there but you had to pay that to get certain players to come down and live there as it was a full-time job for them.

“You hear different rumours and things like that, but there was a structure which Martyn set out, as Chairman of the football club it was his financial budget which we were within, we were within that budget at that time.

“When we got past the Oxford United game, I think we were pushing on, we were in and around the top 5 at the time, the crowds were getting bigger and we were getting stronger and stronger. I do believe, and in the back of my mind I always thought to myself that that squad would have gone all the way, I honestly do believe that that squad was capable of going to the Football League, I had no doubts about that.

“That was probably one of the most disappointing factors, at the end of the day, I will always look back on my football career with so much for the people and supporters of Weymouth that we will never know the answer to that question. That was a very good squad without a doubt.”

In January 2007, Weymouth were booked to go on a mid-season break to Spain for a warm weather training session. Unfortunately, the squad never made it to Spain, they were instead to learn of their transfer listing and Hill’s sacking.

“As far as I’m aware the warm weather training was all authorised by Martyn Harrison, it was already all paid! I came to the football club, I think it was the morning before we were going to Spain, we didn’t have a game and we just talked about what we could do and thought a few days of togetherness and a little break there would recharge the players to push on for the second half of the season.

“Everything was in place, the players came in that morning, I was called in to Gary Calder’s office, Martyn came along too and I talked to him. He always used to call me Gaffer, all the time he would always call me Gaffer, which the players used to do too, but on that morning Martyn called me Garry and it hit me, I thought what’s he doing?

“Then he said ‘I want to go in a different direction’.

“I looked at him and went ‘What do you mean you’re going in a different direction?’

“Then he actually said, ‘I’m going to relieve you and Kevin Hales of your duties of the management team.’

“I was a little bit stunned at first, then the penny dropped, ‘You’re sacking me?’

“He said ‘Well… yeah’.

“I said, ‘What do you mean you’re sacking me? We’ve got the league at our mercy here, you’ve been out the Conference for so many years, you wanted me to get you back there and we do it first year for you and we’re sitting in the top 4 of the league at the moment, 2 games in hand, you’ve got a chance what are you doing this for?’.

“He said, ‘well, I just want to go in a different direction.’

“I never had any inkling of anything going wrong or untoward, Gary (Calder) had an itinerary and printed a load of flyers. I had to get all the players into a room and Martyn wanted all the players put on the transfer list.

“I just don’t know and I’ll never ever understand or never know, I know that Martyn had certain business plans and I think a certain part of that would have been around the Weymouth Football Club. I think he had other plans and business interests around the town, I think he was waiting on and hoping on certain things to give him the green light, I don’t know whether it was something which went against his plans and he thought ‘I’m wasting my time putting the money into this football club to have this bit of fun to take this club towards the Football League and give the people a way of income’.”

So out of the blue was the news that the players initially thought Garry Hill was joking with them when he had to break the news of his departure. Prepared for the mid-season break, the players soon learnt they would be likely to be departing the club.

“I talked to Kevin and then we talked to the players, me and Kevin had to tell those players that they were put on the transfer list, a lot of them looked at us at first and thought it was a joke,” Hill recalls. “I said it wasn’t any joke with a face thunder of course and was shell shocked.

“All of sudden from forming a squad of players who had come from different parts of the country, even myself and Kevin moving down that part, also with the supporters and gaining momentum and excitement in numbers going home and away, it was just completely out of the blue.”

Hill had arrived at Weymouth with Gary Calder and Kevin Hales, with whom he had worked at Hornchurch, but it was only his assistant Hales who departed the club at the same time as the manager.

“We left, Gary Calder stayed. I’m a great believer in, as a rule, that if you go into a place together you come out of a place together, I was a bit surprised that Gary chose to stay, all I can say is that he must’ve been talking to Martyn prior to me and Kevin going. I wouldn’t say we fell out, I told him straight what my views were, everybody who knows me down in Weymouth knows that I’m not the sort of person who would turn around and mince my words or turn around and be false. We went in there three-handed, me, Kevin and Gary Calder and we came out as two, me and Kevin, that’s all I can say on that one.

“There was a situation there where I was being fair with Martyn Harrison, the ridiculous thing about it was that a month or so before I had already agreed a longer-term extension to stay at Weymouth, I had 18 months left on my contract but Martyn wanted to increase that and put another two years on top because we were going so strong at that time.

“I was happy and it was done verbally in respect of the contract being extended, I never rushed in to say I only have 18 months left, Martyn came in and said what do you think about extending and I told him that I love it here, we’re going in the right direction, it would’ve been for me and Kevin Hales going forward. I never rushed in and thought I’ll get this signed, I was very relaxed about it because there were 18 months left and we were going places.

“It was just a complete surprise and I’ll never get over it in the sense that I will never know the reasons why. Martyn is the only man who would’ve known those reasons deep down. We all have our ideas and people say this and say that. I had met Martyn on the way back and we sorted me and Kevin Hales out and we agreed on a settlement out and that was it.

“I’d been on the radio in the meantime saying that I wasn’t going anywhere and Weymouth is for me, but three days afterwards Martyn rang me and said, ‘I know what I’ve done, but will you come back and manage until the end of the season?’

“Well, the milk had come out the bottle and there was no way that I could turn around and go back three or four days after him doing that and me doing it for the rest of the season. I just don’t know what went through Martyn’s mind at that time or what had happened.

“We said our goodbyes to the supporters, me and Kevin had been down to a pub in the town, The Swan, a lot of supporters came out in large numbers and we said our goodbyes, it was just a complete shock.

“I think things happen very quickly, things happened at that football club in such a quick period of time,” reflects Hill. “In an 18 month period of being a Conference South club to winning the title and going back to the Conference, that was a big thing straight away, but to have the FA Cup runs of Forest, going there and then competing and being up there in the top end of the league and the Bury games, everything was happening so quickly. I will never know what, or why it happened.”

Hill’s shock was compounded by the fact that he had stayed within the budget restrictions which Harrison had placed on him.

“Martyn had set a football budget out and he had Gary Calder there with him working on a budget structure which I was always within,” Hill explains. “The players weren’t being paid 52 weeks of the year, that wasn’t the case, it was a football season budget from the start of the season over the 40-odd weeks. It wasn’t a 52-week contract, there were people saying they were getting paid all the year-round.

“You had players who got relocation money because they lived within certain parts of the county to come down there. But it was a footballing budget which was within the structure, which we were. It wasn’t a case of where I ever saw a situation or position of fear from Martyn Harrison that, as Chairman of the football club, he was doing things which he wasn’t comfortable doing, he was doing things that he wanted to do.

“Never at one time, or certainly wasn’t mentioned to myself, was it that this hadn’t gone paid or that hadn’t been paid, everything Martyn Harrison did, as far as I was aware. The players got paid on time, the staff got paid on time and everything was going within the area that we were sitting.

“It was about January time that I left there, we were sitting third or fourth in the league with a couple of games in hand, we had a couple of players lined up and we were gaining momentum to push on and I felt that without a doubt we would go all the way.

“There were teams like Exeter and Torquay and with our neighbours down the road going well, of course, the South West was very strong. No disrespect to Exeter, I think they gained promotion that year, after they ended up taking Richard Logan, Lee Elam and Steve Tully, but they weren’t in the same league as us, no way in a million years.”

Hill now had to watch on as a spectator as his side were dismantled and Weymouth never hit the same heights again. Naturally, Weymouth lost all momentum after his and the majority of the squads’ departure and limped to an 11th placed finish in their first season back in the Conference.

Weymouth were eventually relegated from the Conference two seasons later after the club struggled with further financial difficulties. Even though his time at the club was over, Hill admits it was hard to watch on.

“I was gutted, very, very, very disappointed. We were all one,” says Hill. “It’s always a dangerous game and I have seen it before where you have one owner of a football club, if the eggs are all in that basket it can be powerful when it’s going well but it can also be very dangerous if someone turns around and decides to leave or go in a different direction.

“I can understand if there was a direction change if we had been struggling or anything like that, but there wasn’t a problem at any time financially, or with anything, we had done. Everything was budgeted between Gary Calder and Martyn Harrison around the football club, in respect of training or anything there. We stayed away, the majority of the time, on away trips on a Friday night.

“I never had an inkling in any way or form. These players which we fetched for the football club as well as the players who were already there like Matty Bound, Steve Tully, Shuan Wilkinson, Chukki (Eribenne) and Jason Matthews, we built a team who, not only on the football pitch, had a togetherness off the football pitch.

“The players who came in, with the players who were there, and with the supporters we were going places. I saw events unfold, I talked to Jason Tindall about getting him to be the manager there, after Martyn left Tindall’s father-in-law Mel Bush got involved for a little while.

“I’m led to believe that when Martyn Harrison left that football club he left it clean and I think when Mel Bush left the club he left the club clean. I honestly believe that deep down Martyn was a good man in every way and form and good for the football club and I feel the same situation at Mel Bush.

“It was a case that it’s a prime area where that football club’s land is and the way I look at it, it fell into the wrong hands of people who didn’t have any interest in the football and the well-being of Weymouth Football Club, but simply to sell it on.”

There were similarities in how things ended for Hill at both Hornchurch and Weymouth, but for Hill, his feeling at Weymouth was different and the change of direction came as a complete surprise.

Although he doesn’t seem to hold any resentment for his former employer at Weymouth and insists that Harrison was good for the football club, despite the fallout that followed his departure.

“I got my fingers burnt before I came to Weymouth, I was at Dagenham and Redbridge and everything was fine, it was a members club and very similar to Weymouth in every way and form. It’s a very passionate football club with proper people.

“I went to Hornchurch for a short time after I left Dagenham and Redbridge and they had a one-owner man in there, Carl Williams, they had had George Borg and then I went in there but again as a one owner club they suddenly went bang, pop.

“But there were signs there at Hornchurch, you could see that things weren’t quite right, but at Weymouth, there was never an inkling in any way or form. Martyn Harrison, I always classed as a proper man, we can all have views on people one way or another, but working with Martyn Harrison I know that he was good for Weymouth Football Club, I think that something happened away from that football ground, I don’t know whether he was expecting to get some kind of development or business plans going forward in Weymouth itself, which certainly upset Martyn at that time because it was so sudden!

“We were fancying ourselves. It was a good blend of footballing side and we had players in there who could put a foot in, we had leaders like Matty Bound, we had playmakers in there like Ben Smith, it was a very good squad which worked well together and we were going in the right direction. I do have that reservation that after Martyn Harrison went it hurt me so badly for a long, long time, it’s still a special part of my life.”

So touched was Hill by his 20 months at the club, he still follows the Terras and holds them as one of his clubs. Living in Essex, you won’t be seeing Hill at the Bob Lucas Stadium too often, but he does admit to keeping an eye on the fixture to see when the Terras are playing towards his way.

“I live in an area now where clubs this way are in the Conference South, the Billericays and the Chelmsfords, the Dartfords and Wellings are a stones-throw, as much as possible I will always go and support Weymouth.

“The first results I will always look at when I’m not managing are Dagenham and Redbridge and Weymouth, they are my two special clubs in my 30 years of management that have meant so much to me.

“When you see from the outside, after managing, how a football club can go from the heights it was going to go the other way, that’s when I know what a big club on and off the pitch Weymouth are. The supporters would’ve walked away and buckled and never gone through what they have gone through, apart from the special people down at Weymouth who built that club back up.”

Under Mark Molesley, Weymouth have returned to the National League South, they may not have reached the heights of being in the top 4 of the Conference again, but progress has been made, progress which Hill says is a great relief to him.

“I talk to Mark Molesley from time to time, I know Mark well,” says Hill. “He’s asked me about players, I’ve watched a couple of games and given him a run-down.

“I’m a great believer in life that if you’ve got £10 in your pocket you budget for £10, not £10 and a penny. I know Ian White is the chairman, he was a big supporter of the football club as well as other people there when I was there, but I know the right people are running the football club, you’ve got a good management team there.

“I look at Mark Molesley who has the Bournemouth connection, working with Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall, the players are the right type and will play the right way. It’s great to see it, I am really relieved more than anything, I’m relieved that it’s fallen back in the hands of the supporters who are running the football club.

“I’m pleased to see the club doing well and I’ll support them whenever they are in this part of the country. I will watch them home and away, I’m sure I’ll come down to the Wessex and watch them because my family loved living down there, it’s a big part of my life still and a place which I have got very fond memories of even though it ended so disappointingly.

“I went to Billericay to see them on the Tuesday night last season. I always look when the fixtures are, I think they were due to come to Chelmsford about 4 miles from where I live, but of course, that game didn’t get played. I’m really pleased for Mark Molesley and his staff and the supporters. I do support them and Dagenham and Redbridge in a big way.

“I’m pleased for the area to have a football club going in the right direction again. You’ve got a manager there who plays football the right way, he’s a young manager with a lot of energy and they play with a lot of energy. He’s got a good staff and good players, it’s great to see the club going in the right direction.

“I might be in Essex now and not in Dorset, but it’s a football club which means a great deal to me and hopefully, they’ll be in the National League soon and I’ll be watching them as well.”