Terras Hall of Fame inductee Willie Gibson joined Ben & Josh for Terras Podcast #12 which also included Terras Assistant Tom Prodomo, Chairman Ian White, and current players Cameron Muray and Calvin Brooks you can hear it HERE
Josh Barton: Good Afternoon Willie, football is coming back behind closed doors, what was that like for you did you have any experience of it?
Willie Gibson: Well I remember going to Canterbury for a midweek game and there were about 30 people there and that was like a behind closed door game. And the atmosphere was rubbish, just rubbish to be honest with you. Obviously fans create the atmosphere at a game, whether your attacking or playing well, or not playing well, it’s the fans that create the atmosphere. Its just like a practice game…
JB: I’d like to talk about your football career, you started in Scottish Junior football and then you moved to Leicester City where you had three years, how did you find moving to such a big football club?
WG: It was a tremendous change of environment for me personally, I’d came from a small mining village playing for the local junior team, then I moved to Leicester City, to England with my wife, we were newly married. It was a big change and it happened quite fast on the football front, within a year I was in the first team, it was a fantastic experience but like at any football club when a new manager comes in, if he likes you he likes you so I moved to Nuneaton which was a step down but I was quite happy because they were a tremendous bunch of lads an the manager was Graham Carr who obviously Weymouth fans would know and we had a good time there. But then for financial reasons they got relegated and I asked for a move and it was basically between Weymouth & Kettering.
JB: I see that the transfer fee was £5,000 was that considered a lot of money for a transfer fee back then?
WG: Probably for a Left Back, yeah.
JB: For a very good Left Back it has to be said.
WG: Well, I think they got their money’s worth. But really the transfer fee doesn’t really affect the player, I didn’t let it worry me, I just got on with the football.
JB: You were voted Players Player of the Year in 1987/88 Season at Weymouth and Player of the Year in 1994. I wanted to touch on the Player’s Player, to get that accolade from your team mates, does that mean more sometimes?
WG: Well yeah it is quite an honour, especially for a left back because its usually the strikers that get the accolades, but I always felt that its defenders that win games just as much as the strikers. It’s a good honour as is any award, whether its fellow players, fans, manager whatever.
JB: You played at both The Rec and The Wessex (as it was) what was the difference between the Rec and the new stadium, what was it like going into a new environment?
WG: I loved playing at the Wessex, I didn’t used to like coming down to Weymouth to play at the old ground because we’d be playing against players like Iannone and Agana. But it was a good old fashioned ground and crowds used to create a good atmosphere, terrible pitch I remember that.
JB: 449 appearances for the club, scoring just the 6 goals. Do you have a memorable one from that?
WG: Well two stick in my mind actually. The first was when Steve Claridge played for us, we used to give him the ball and then stand and watch, we had no idea what he was going to do with it, but we were away at Dagenham and I passed it to him out wide and I just carried on forward, and he passed it back to me and I scored, it was more of a shock that he’d passed it back to me than me actually scoring I think.
The other one was an F.A cup game at home against Barnstaple and I cut inside from the left wing and scored with my right foot which was probably more surprising than the first one to be honest.
JB: You had two spells as caretaker manager, was management not something you really fancied?
WG: Well I was kind of, not forced into it exactly but I was asked to help keep the club moving along, the club didn’t have much money, we were kind of struggling, we couldn’t buy ourselves up the league and I was asked to keep it going until someone came in. On one of the occasions it was Len Ashurst and I thought that was brilliant he had a lot of experience and we learned a lot from him.
JB: I had the honour of sponsoring you when you were inducted into the Hall of Fame, I know you personally and I know that you are not one for personal accolades and whatever, but that must have been a great moment for you and your family am I right?
WG: Yeah, You’re right it was, and I thought why me? I’m sure there must be a few more others. But it was a great time for my family, my nipper who used to have a kick about after the game on the pitch and my wife who came to every match. It was a great time.
JB: I know you still come and watch where you can. You were there when we won the league under Mark Molesley, what did you make of all that?
WG: Yeah, its been like a breath of fresh air since he took over, I don’t know him personally but I listen to what he says and read what he says in The Echo, he’s obviously very educated and knows what he’s doing, doing the job at Bournemouth working with the younger lads he’s obviously well respected there. And when you watch them you can see that this is how they play at Bournemouth and to get that at this level I think is terrific. I think its been brilliant the last couple of years, I’m sure the reputation of Weymouth is growing throughout non-league, I just hope he stays around a while longer.
JB: I understand that you played with George Best, is that right?
WG: Well yes, I played both with him and against him but I will admit it was sort of toward the end of his career. I played against him in a friendly for Leicester City against Hibernian up in Edinburgh and you just couldn’t get near him. And then when I was at Nuneaton we had a pre-season friendly against Coventry City, we had a Chairman who was Irish and just seemed to have all sorts of connections, we had Muhammad Ali on the pitch before one game. So we turned up for the friendly four of us had travelled from Leicester, we got there and George Best is just sat there like a normal bloke, played for us, he was fantastic, again nobody could get near him. It was an honour really.
But at Weymouth we had quite a few top players, perhaps towards the end of their careers, but I remember Frank Worthington, played just 4 or 5 games but he was pure class, the only way to describe him.
JB: Willie, do you have a final word for the Terras fans? Especially those that have tuned in just to listen to you, I know there will be a few.
WG: I’d be very surprised to be honest with you, but its been a pleasure, players always love talking about the old days, I had a great ten years or so playing for the Terras. I just hope we can get to other side of this virus and we can get back down the Wessex and enjoy another good year. Take care.