Today I interview one of my favourite players growing up, even though I was very young at the time I remember players such as Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn and Darren Williams, today I had the pleasure interviewing Darren on his time at Sunderland and his playing career.
We have the honour of interviewing Swindon Town midfielder, Tom Smith, not once, but twice, in this one of article. The 19 year old has had a promising start to his footballing career, with first team debuts at Swindon and a successful loan spell at Waterford, Ireland First Division.
This is a very special article, we have never had an interview with a player (or anyone for that matter) twice in the same article. A lot changes in football and this is the same with footballers. The first time we spoke to Tom, he was slowly breaking in to the first team, now in part two, we get an update on his career, his loan spell and his style of play.
Paul Mariner is one of the finest strikers to ever play for Ipswich Town, scoring 96 goals in 260 appearances, winning the FA Cup and UEFA Cup in the process. Paul also played for the England national team 35 times, scoring 13 goals. In his professional career spanning for over 20 years, Paul made 555 appearances for Plymouth, Ipswich, Arsenal, Portsmouth and various teams in America and Australia, scoring 179 career goals. He was part of the greatest era under Sir Bobby Robson and brought major success to the Suffolk side before moving to the capital to play for Arsenal. He later went into management with Plymouth and MLS side Toronto FC. Dictate the Game were fortunate enough to interview Paul. we asked him about his time in Ipswich, his managerial career and if he had any regrets in his career.
It’s been a while since we got the chance to do an interview with a Halstead player, so when the chance came up to interview Halstead striker Shaun Avis, we jumped at the chance. Shaun is a new signing at the Milbank Stadium joining a few months backs, and has impressed the Halstead faithful with his hold up play and his goal scoring record, in 18 games, he has scored 12 goals. We spoke to Shaun about his favourite goal, how he joined the Humbugs, non league teams’ FA Cup run, the fans support, and more.
1: Favourite goal you’ve scored?
My Favourite goal In terms of Importance would have to have been a goal I scored against Great Yarmouth for Saffron Walden on the last Day of the season in a 1-1 draw to seal Promotion (2014-2015 season) We needed a point from the last game to seal it so to score in that game was one that has stayed with me. A close second would have to of been the late Penalty away to Holland for Halstead shortly after I joined. It was very late on in the game (88th min I think) and the scores were level at 1-1 and the celebrations after that goal with the players and fans was special.
2: Most memorable moment in your career?
Promotion would certainly be one of those. It’s a great feeling after having worked hard for a whole season to then be rewarded with what you set out to achieve initially.
I was not featuring as much as i’d really like to have been at Saffron Walden, and the main thing for me was to be playing regularly as any player looks to. I had spoken and known Mark (Benterman) for some time and he had showed a strong interest in me for a couple of seasons and suggested I gave it a go at Halstead. I knew having played against Halstead on many an occasion they were very well supported and were a strong side so I decided to give it a go and I’m pleased I made the move as I have enjoyed it here since I arrived.
4: How have recent non league performances in the footballing world changed your view on football i.e. Sutton and Lincoln getting to the last rounds of the FA Cup.
I think it is important for any team to always set the bar high, having played in the FA Cup / FA Vase on past occasions where you may be drawn against higher opposition which on paper your team has no right to win, yet with a good team spirit and belief within yourself and of your team mates this will always give you the best possible chance of achieving somethingpositive. I think Lincoln have proved that this year, being a non league side yet managing to get to the quarter finals of the FA Cup and beating Premier League & Championship opposition along the way is a massive achievement and shows it can be done.
I think there is more than a couple here who could comfortably play at a higher level if they opted to. However, a player who does impress me for his age (17) is ‘Kano’ (Kane Gilbert) I was amazed when I found out he was still only 17! He is quick, has good feet, and is very direct which are good attributes for any winger. A couple more years playing at this level to learn a bit more about the game then I wouldn’t be surprised if a club from a higher league came to snatch him.
6: Halstead will probably finish somewhere between 4th and 8th or around that point this season, do you think the club can actually get promoted next season, with progress being made in the right position?
I think that is certainly the aim for next season is to get promoted. And I don’t see any reason to suggest why that wouldn’t be possible with the talent we have currently. I think we have been unlucky personally with some injuries and suspensions this season which has forced us to play a lot of different starting lineups which can make it tougher to gel as a squad. That isn’t to say any of the lads who have stepped in haven’t done their job because they certainly have.
7: Favourite team in football?
Only one team for me – Arsenal – have supported them since I was young and try and go to watch when I can.
8: Who was your footballing idol growing up?
Being an Arsenal fan it would have to be Thierry Henry. He was the one player who always stood out for me as I was growing up and at times won games by himself. Still the best player I have ever seen in an Arsenal shirt. I don’t think many could disagree with that either.
As mentioned previously, I didn’t feel I was playing quite as much as I’d like to have been at Walden and the chance for me to play more regular football arose and it was a chance I just had to take and I am very pleased with how its turned out.
10: By the end of the season, what would you like to have achieved both personally and as a club?
I think it is clear to see that the initial goal of sealing promotion for this season is sadly over however we still have 6 games remaining to which we would like to take maximum points from so we will do our best to achieve this. On a personal level as a striker goals are always important. If I’m honest when I first joined I didn’t set an initial target however always like to be ambitious when settingthem. After 17 games I think I’m up to 12 now which I would have been happy with if someone offered me that when I had joined. With the 6 games remaining I’d like to think I could get 8 from those to reach 20. But as long as we are winning games It doesn’t matter who gets the goals.
11: When I interviewed your team mate Tom Cook, he said “we have the best fans in the league”, have you been impressed with the fans since joining the club?
Tom is spot on! I have been very lucky to have played for two very well supported clubs in Saffron Walden & Halstead and this is something I get a real buzz off when you walk out on to the pitch (Home or Away) and see them (more than likely behind the goal). Without the fans and their loyal support quite frankly the game would be dead. I think it is even more special at a local level as they sometimes travel long distances to support you and give up their weekends doing so. So trying to give them something back comes from giving your all when you’re on the pitch and there’s no better feeling than celebrating a hard fought win or a last minute winner with them.
I think the fans know how much the boys and I appreciate their support, whether we are Home or Away or Winning or Losing they are there in numbers behind that goal and that really does act as a driving point to push us on and is certainly on a personal level something I really appreciate and always will. Hopefully with the last 6 games of the season looming we are able to give them something back by taking as many points as possible from these games.
Dictate The Game would like to thank Shaun for taking time to answer our questions, and we wish him the best for the rest of this season and next season.
Not many people get the opportunity to say they manage a football club, especially in Gibralatar. As always we like to cover different aspects of the game from players to coaches and managers, so having this interview with Europa FC Manager, Juan Jose Gallardo is something we take great pride in.
Something extremely interesting about the league is there is only one stadium, that might be due to the fact there isn’t enough room to have anymore on the country which has a population of around 30,000.
I love non league football. You can’t beat it. 22 normal, and down to earth, folk kicking the ball around a muddy pitch, there is no players on 325k a week, some clubs don’t pay wages at all! I’ve already interviewed former Halstead manager, Mark Benterman, Halstead’s players, James Murray, Tom Cook, Gary McIlwaine, Michael Runicles. A few months ago, I chatted to Earls Colne manager John Pike to talk about managing in non league, players at ECFC who could play higher up, and much more.
We met with Halstead Town player, Michael Runicles. Who is Michael Runicles? Michael is a semi-professional footballer who joined Halstead Town FC this season, and scored the winner in an away game against Kings Lynn Reserves in the Eastern Counties Division One. Michael has previously played as a goalkeeper at youth level and played for Ipswich Town. Since moving outfield, he has played for West Bergholt and Brightlingsea Regent before making the move to the Humbugs this season. So far this season, he has played 5 times for Halstead, scoring 3 times.