BBC BLOGS - Gavin Strachan
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Life in the fast lane

Gavin Strachan | 10:30 UK time, Thursday, 30 April 2009

Hi, hope you are all well.

If a fairy godmother came down to me and said: "Gavin, I can give you one attribute to aide your (ailing) footballing career," I would not have to think very hard about what I would want the most. It would be pace.....and lots of it!

I have lost track of the number of conversations I have had with fellow professionals about the advantages of having this string to your bow. There is no doubt that life as a footballer is so much easier if pace is among your primary attributes.

Usually, the conversations on this subject drifts on to the various players we have come across during our careers who would have made it at the very top level if they had been gifted with that extra yard of pace.

adamboyd282_getty.jpgOne of the best examples I can give is my former Hartlepool United team-mate Adam Boyd, now at Leyton Orient. He is a very talented striker and some of the things I have seen him do in training have defied belief. However, although he has had a decent career in the lower leagues, his lack of pace has restricted him from breaking into the upper echelons of the game.

As I have said before, the pace and tempo at which modern-day top-flight football is played is faster than ever before and the emphasis on clubs to nurture or purchase players who have pace has become greater.

When you have one of these jet-heeled players in your team, the opposition tend to drop back to nullify the threat of the ball being played into the space behind their defence. By defending deeper, they give you more space to exploit in the middle of the pitch. You also have more ammunition to hit teams on the counter-attack, which the top teams do very well.

From a midfielder's perspective, one of the great things about playing with fast wingers and strikers is that you can occasionally afford not to be inch-perfect with your passes to them. Sometimes, a simple pass into a big open space will do.

I have to make the point that a number of these ultra-quick players are, for some reason, noticeably slower when it comes to tracking back and defending! Still, because of what they bring to a team they tend to be easily forgiven for it!

From time-to-time you hear about clubs employing sprint coaches. It is not something that I have come across in my career, which is a shame because it would be interesting to see the methods they employ and, ultimately, whether or not they make a difference. Rightly or wrongly, they seem to be viewed as something of a "luxury" type of coach within the football fraternity.

If you are not blessed with pace, then in order to be classed as a world-class player you have to be an absolute master at other aspects of the game. Take David Beckham or Xabi Alonso, who have compensated for their lack of pace with amazing passing ability. These are two of my favourite players - I can't help but marvel at the way they effortlessly ping balls about the pitch. A lot of fans cannot begin to imagine how difficult their passing skills can be and the amount of practice these players have invested in it.

If at any point during this article you sense that my views of players with great pace are tinged with a bit of jealousy, you will be right (tongue in cheek, I might add). The fact is that footballers blessed in this way have an instant advantage. In my experience, players who have pace can forge relatively successful careers without always being particularly proficient in the other aspects of the game.

A name that always springs to mind in this respect is another former Hartlepool United team-mate of mine, Marcus Richardson. I am sure this much-travelled centre-forward, now with Farnborough in the Southern League Premier Division, will be the first to agree that the technical side of the game - control, passing etc - was not his forte but he was able to carve out a career in the lower leagues solely through his pace and strength. It got to the point that, if he came short wanting the ball played in to his feet, people would ignore that option and give him a ball to chase in behind the opposing defence. This is where he has been at his most effective.

The fact that Marcus has played for some 16 clubs at League and non-League level highlights the belief that when you have pace and strength you will always be in demand.

League Two has had its fair share of flying machines this season. Among the most notable are Omar Daley at Bradford City, Jonathan Forte (who joined Notts County on loan from Scunthorpe United but has recently returned to his parent club) and Lincoln City's Dany N'Guessan.

However, the two players in this mould who have caught my eye the most this season are Myles Weston (Notts County) and Sam Saunders of Dagenham & Redbridge. Both were in action in last Saturday's fixture between the two sides at Meadow Lane. I had heard a lot about Saunders and after witnessing at first hand what he can do and also having him whiz past me a few times, I can testify that the praise he has received has not been misplaced. The goal he scored - the first in a 3-0 Dagenham win - was an absolute stunner.

As for Weston, I have to admit that the task of defending against him in the one v one drills that form part of our training work is something I try to avoid. Whenever these drills take place we split into groups of defenders and attackers. If I am in the group defending, I always look at the line of possible "opponents" opposite me and try to work out which player I will come up against. If it looks like it will be Myles I am not ashamed to admit that a strategic bit of queue jumping takes place!

Myles is well aware that he is not quite the finished article. He knows his control and other technical aspects of his game need improving. However, what he has in his favour is the fact that he is willing to learn and put in the work required to polish up those rough edges.


On the subject of flying wingers, Ryan Giggs (who it is probably fair to say can now be classed as a former flying winger), was crowned PFA Player of the Year. It is not surprising that there has been some controversy over some of the awards. It does seem hard to believe that Chelsea's Frank Lampard was not among the nominees and there have certainly been plenty of raised eyebrows over some of the players selected - or not selected - for the divisional teams of the year.

I think it is important to bear in mind that the ballots take place in February and human nature dictates that you vote for people who are in good form at that time. It is worth pointing out that February was the month when Giggs scored that fantastic goal against West Ham United and Manchester United were in particularly good form.

For what it's worth, I voted for Wayne Rooney as the PFA Player of the Year and Ashley Young as Young Player of the Year. Thinking of players who had the strongest claims for such distinction was not difficult, given the amount of Premier League football we see on television. As I pointed out in my previous blog regarding the awards, it is a different matter when you are trying to assess the best players in Leagues One and Two, which helps explain why no Brentford players were included in the League Two team of the year nor any from Dagenham & Redbridge - one of the surprise teams of the season.


  • 1. At 10:44am on 30 Apr 2009, SHABBA1888 wrote:

    Another great Blog Gav. Keep up the good work!

    Hail Hail !

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  • 2. At 10:54am on 30 Apr 2009, Few But Ripe wrote:

    I would vote for Wayne Rooney too.

    He might not be the most admired player but in 100 years they'll still be talking about him.

    He combines raw talent with pace, power and skill. What a greta player at just 23

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  • 3. At 10:56am on 30 Apr 2009, SHABBA1888 wrote:

    Also, a player that really springs to mind when I read the blog was Ivan Sproule. Used to play with Hibernian and is currently with Bristol City. He has blistering pace but very little football about him. It really amazes me how he has reached the heights of the Championship as only a few years ago he was playing for a poor team in the Irish League (Institute).

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  • 4. At 11:00am on 30 Apr 2009, RFC_1989 wrote:

    superb gav. love reading your blogs

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  • 5. At 11:00am on 30 Apr 2009, PaulTheVillan wrote:

    tut tut tut a former Cov man voting for a Villa player!

    That won't go down well Gav

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  • 6. At 11:03am on 30 Apr 2009, herorooney wrote:

    Great column again mate i myself am from Hartlepool and its good to here about the players i totally agree with you on the topic of Adam Boyd one of the most technically gifted players to ever grace the vic just too slow. Keep up the good work mate

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  • 7. At 11:08am on 30 Apr 2009, Sham96 wrote:

    Good column Gav!
    I agree with SHABBA1888. As a Bristol City fan, watching Ivan Sproule is one of the most frustrating parts of the day. Brilliant pace and no final delivery.
    If he had that, maybe he would be one of the top players in the prem? Who knows.

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  • 8. At 11:25am on 30 Apr 2009, trickyblue wrote:

    what about the flying postman Gav . . John Williams, before your time i think at the Sky Blues but he came instantly to mind as you described Marcus Richardson.

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  • 9. At 11:30am on 30 Apr 2009, thunderousNickRhys wrote:

    Hi Gav, great blog again.
    I was wondering, as an expert on lower league football (you can take that whichever way you like) any advice for my club Saints? Providing we are still a club next season, especially if we keep the current manager the club will have absolutely no knowledge/experience of League 1 football and so may struggle. What do you think are the main attributes our players will need to do well in the division? I've heard you use the term 'hook on' in midfield (admittedly in reference to league 2 football). Is it that important as we like to think of ourselves as a good footballing side who like to keep the ball on the pitch and pass it around. Are these types of teams typically successful in the lower leagues?

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  • 10. At 11:34am on 30 Apr 2009, Young_and_Angry wrote:

    Hello Gavin,

    Another great blog. One player I watched with great pace was Ben Muirhead. I watched him play against Reading U17s for Man Utd U17s about 9 years ago. He would be on the half way line and kick the ball to the corner flag. He was so quick he'd do that everytime and no one could catch him, even though they knew what he was going to do. I think he ended up at Bradford.


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  • 11. At 11:50am on 30 Apr 2009, jacko_gtfc wrote:

    Hi Gavin,

    Great blog (yet again).

    I posted a comment a few weeks back asking your opinion of Grimsby's young centre half Ryan Bennett. Since my post the teenager swept up 14 awards at the GTFC Award ceremony including Player and Young Player of the year. I had my fingers crossed that his name would be among those in the League 2 team of the season but it wasn't to be.

    My first post went something like this, if you get time to respond;

    As a Grimsby Town fan i am intrigued to find out your opinion of our wonderkid centre half Ryan Bennett.
    At just 19 years old he is our club captain (and has been for some time), has cemented himself in the England side for his age and has been watched by many a Premiership scout this season.

    In what has been a horrible season for us Mariners, young Bennett, on many occasions has single handedly saved us from more defeats with his magnificent play and leadership.

    Last season he picked up the League 2 Apprentice of the year (at just 17) and has gone from strength to strength. I just hope that if we avoid relegation to the Blue Square, our captain fantastic will still be sporting the black and white stripes. I am praying he is not snapped up for a fraction of his valuation and left to play reserve team football, as a certain John Bostock, formerly of Crystal Palace, is doing for Spurs.

    I was wondering what his fellow League 2 players think of him and if, after playing against him, you believe he has what it takes to play at a much higher level. His talents are there for everyone to see.

    Jack, Grimsby

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  • 12. At 11:58am on 30 Apr 2009, Dennistoundon wrote:

    Good Blog Gav

    No3 my thoughts exactly, I remember him ripping Rangers apart one day with that pace of his and thinking he'll be a top player in the SPL cause he lacked the Techniacl abilty to play at a higher level but well done to the lad who thus far made a good career for himself

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  • 13. At 12:12pm on 30 Apr 2009, walrus wrote:

    Hi Gav, always enjoy reading your blog. You have alluded to it in your article, but would you be prepared to go out on a limb and name a few more players (probably best from the past) who have been blessed with Usain Bolt-esque pace but were very average players and made it to the top flight?
    Cheers, good luck with your careers.

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  • 14. At 12:15pm on 30 Apr 2009, Spoff wrote:

    Jeramie Aliadiare proves that you need more than pace!

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  • 15. At 12:23pm on 30 Apr 2009, Mellors Moobs wrote:

    Hi Gavin,

    On the subject of pace and lack of footballing ability Sheffield Wednesday has a player in this mould... one Jermaine Johnson.

    He is lightening quick and scares the opposition to death, they cant cope with him whenever he has the ball no matter who the player marking him is. However its once he's beaten him thats the problem.

    The number of times he has beaten 4 or 5 men then got through one on one with the keeper only to blaze it into the top tear of the lappings lane stnad, well i haven't got enough fingers and toes to count.

    Also when he goes down the line and leaves the full back for dead, im sure my crossing ability is better and i am a lowly sunday league footballer with no pace of my own.

    These type of players are brilliant and frustrating at the same time.

    Great blog.

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  • 16. At 12:30pm on 30 Apr 2009, boomshakalak wrote:

    brilliant point Gav and something i have been bagning on about for years.... the number of times i have said to the quick players i have played with "i'd love your pace"... pace means you don't actually need to even do a trick to beat people - you can just kick it past them and run... or if you are a defender it means you can get back into position and make last gasp challenges...

    the points above sum things up so well - i am also a bristol city fan and Ivan Sproule is a class example of what pace can give - both frustrations and excitement... if you compare say Lee Trundle with Sproule then from a purely "footballing ability" Truyndle murders him... however Sproule remains atleast equally as dangerous despite the fact he can barely kick a ball in comparison.

    It just goes to show another reason why we love football - it is so diverese and the players are as well... it's not just all about how much you can do with a football - it's about athletic ability, pace, power, heart, determination, intelligence, decision making and so much more...

    as for comment 14. Spoff.... completely disagree...Aliadiare is a classic example about what you can achieve with JUST pace... premiership football, million pound salary, supermodel girlfriend... my.. what a loser he is with JUST his pace.

    Aaron Lennon / Sean Wright-Phillips / etc or David Beckham / David Bentley... so different because of pace yet all England internationals in the same position...

    I love football!

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  • 17. At 12:33pm on 30 Apr 2009, yellowAmberArmy wrote:

    lee trundle. surely a player who had the abilty to play in the premier league but was let down by being a bit overweight at times and pretty slow.

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  • 18. At 12:37pm on 30 Apr 2009, boomshakalak wrote:

    13. Walrus ...... Franz Carr would be the ultimate example i think... and Mark Overmars was pretty rapid yet quite basic compared to some others.... Jesper Gronkjaer, Thomas Rommedahl, Tony Daly, ... there are loads of them... Anders Limpar

    From Bristol City i could name - Louie Donowa (played for Norwich, Birmingham and Deportivo La Coruna as well) and Junior Bent for a couple more... but i am sure every club has had loads of them... exciting

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  • 19. At 12:39pm on 30 Apr 2009, ramorrison1 wrote:

    Hi Gavin

    Brilliant blog once again. I didn't realise that players in the lower leagues voted for PFA player of the year. Does that mean that a player in the championship, for example, could win it if he got everyone in his league to vote for him. If not, would it not make more sense for only players in their respective divisions to vote

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  • 20. At 12:41pm on 30 Apr 2009, boomshakalak wrote:

    Lee Sharpe .... i could do this all day...

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  • 21. At 12:42pm on 30 Apr 2009, boomshakalak wrote:

    Kanchelskis, Lovenkrands....

    i won't give any more i pronmise... sorry ... but i'm loving it...

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  • 22. At 12:44pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    post 8. John Williams was at Coventry when I was a YTS . A very funny man and very quick . I am sure he won some sprint challenge for footballers. I could be wrong though.

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  • 23. At 12:45pm on 30 Apr 2009, SHABBA1888 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 24. At 12:46pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    post 11. I was very impressed with Ryan Bennett and also the other centre half in our recent game against Bury. They defended everything we threw at them and did well against Delroy Facey who is a big strong lad.

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  • 25. At 12:49pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    post 9 . I think at St Mary`s you will still be able to pass the ball around well . It may be however that they will have to adapt their game away from home and become a bit more direct.

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  • 26. At 1:04pm on 30 Apr 2009, LegendaryDaggers wrote:

    As a Dagenham fan who attended at MeadowLane last saturday, am very pleased Sam Saunders got a mention, and personally I'm very concerned that our club attitude of always let players move up the ladder will see him out the door. I would also like your opinion on our loan player from Portsmouth, Matt Ritchie, and how far you think he might be able to go as far as Premier League goes. I feel when he goes back at the seasons end that will be a big loss to us.
    It seems to me all League 2, Blue Square players get snaffled very quickly, a player who really impressed me was former Chesterfield striker Jamie Ward, but as far as I'm aware he now plays in League 1. Correct me if I'm wrong. More evidence comes from ex-Dagenham player Craig Mackail-Smith, who now Peterborough have been promoted will be playing Championship football next season. Had he stayed at the club, we could have progressed even further than we already have, and I assume this is the same for all League 2, Blue Square level clubs preventing them from the progression they are clearly capable of making.
    Keep up the good work with the blogs, and good luck for your last game on saturday, I'm off to Dagenham for our hopefully play-off clinching game with Shrewsbury.

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  • 27. At 1:13pm on 30 Apr 2009, pcurrie56 wrote:

    On the topic of sprint coaches, celtic have a guy called Gregory Dupont - I'm sure you're old man has mentioned him. More of a sports scientist but you get the gist.

    The difference he made with Aiden McGeady was sensational, I believe he had mcGeady towing a weighted sled when the team was doing doggies.

    I'va also seen this at my local gym with a couple of sprinters. Seems to work so go and buy yourself a sledge and slap a 40Kg weight on it.

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  • 28. At 1:38pm on 30 Apr 2009, hibees2 wrote:

    post 3 and post 12. I was at Ibrox the day Ivan Sproule hit a hattrick against Rangers, can't think of too much else he did in a Hibs shirt after that game though.

    Crackin blog Gav, read it everyweek.

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  • 29. At 1:50pm on 30 Apr 2009, 1maiktaylor wrote:

    This is my first post, but I've enjoyed your blogs for a while now, Gavin.
    LDaggers, Jamie Ward signed for Sheffield United in January there; as a Northern Ireland fan I'm excited as I've read good things about him already from Blades fans. He was called up for our recent qualifying wins v Poland & Slovenia but was unused; if he continues to improve I'm sure he will get an opportunity for us, though he faces competition from Martin Paterson, Healy, Lafferty & Feeney. Strong options (relatively) for Northern Ireland...
    Which takes me to Ivan Sproule. He's been left out in the cold by Nigel Worthington but I would have him as an option (off the bench at the very least) every time. His pace against tiring defences would be frightening, but, sadly, it seems he is just not Worthington's type of footballer.

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  • 30. At 1:54pm on 30 Apr 2009, celery_shtick wrote:

    love the blog.
    You're spot on re John Williams wining a Pro footballer sprint competition - I think it was Football Focus who roganised it.

    Chelsea were one of the first to employ a sprint trainer - ex Olympic sprinter Ade Mafe.
    Not sure if he was around at the time of my favourite ever player - Pat Nevin. There was someone blessed with ultimate skill - but no pace.

    One who did have pace to burn : Gordon Hill, who preceded Lee Sharpe and Ryan Giggs.

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  • 31. At 2:04pm on 30 Apr 2009, bluest-man wrote:

    Glad to see you using the word 'pace' not speed.. I was fast sub 11 sec 100m on grass ... but there were always guys with more 'pace' than me. It isn't just about blindingly fast running it has more to do with acceleration and change of direction which enabled them to give me the slip and make them vastly better soccer players than I could ever hope to be... I switched to rugby where I could use my speed to catch someone from behind and knock them to the ground to stop them legaly!

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  • 32. At 2:05pm on 30 Apr 2009, SugarDunkerton wrote:

    Never mind Ivan Sproule.. what about Didier Agathe!!! The man only had the pace in his locker but man did he terrorise some of the best with it.. I remember at one point that Juventus and Valencia both seriously wanted him but O'Neill in his 'wisdom' decided to keep him and turn him into a right back...

    He was never the same after doing his knee ligaments at Tynecastle.. ended up pulling out of tackles after that.

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  • 33. At 2:40pm on 30 Apr 2009, ukctstrider wrote:

    Players with pace can be good in a defensive fashion as well. I'm a Forest fan and I've lost track of the number of corners and throw ins Nathan Tyson has won for us just by being able to put defenders under pressure.

    Tyson must be the fastest player outside the Prem, and would give most of the players inside it a good run for their money.

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  • 34. At 2:42pm on 30 Apr 2009, Bhoycie06 wrote:

    Didier Agathe is who I was thinking of aswell! An unknown forward for Raith Rovers, then Hibs singed him on a 3 month deal they were that unsure of whether he'd be good enough for them! O'Neill paid a paltry £35k for him, turned him into a right wing back and for 2 years he was up there with the very best in Europe. I can remember specifically games again Juventus in 01/02 CL and Stuttgart the following year in the Uefa Cup where he was incredible. Could he play football? Not a chance! But the pace of him alone was just incredible. A fine example of O'Neill thinking outside the box because, as I've said before, he was a "striker" before!

    Gabby Agbonlahor... Luke Young had better watch out, his place in the team could be under threat next season... :D

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  • 35. At 3:35pm on 30 Apr 2009, Jared_W wrote:

    Hi Gav

    Just heard you've been released from Notts today.

    I've always enjoyed reading your blog. Good luck with your journalism career. I'd like to say i've enjoyed watching you on the pitch for Notts this season. But you've hardly played because of injury and like most Notts fans, in truth, I won't be shedding any tears over your loss.

    I'm not sure what happened at Notts this season, but most of the team failed us fans big-time. It might be because our manager can't motivate you or the older members of the squad lack the bottle. Aside from Hamshaw, Weston, Thompson and Clapham you should all be a bit embarassed at collecting your pay cheques.

    But either way good luck with the rest of your career. Thought about phoning Mansfield Town and asking for a trial yet?


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  • 36. At 3:36pm on 30 Apr 2009, Jared_W wrote:

    PS - If you haven't already, I reckon you should look up Dave McVay.

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  • 37. At 3:48pm on 30 Apr 2009, gay fish wrote:

    Completely right about the PFA awards. Another good blog and very interesting about the pace aspect. We have seen this with James Beattie and many others over the last 10 years who are in the England team then out of it then end up in the Championship. We even got rid of a good young striker from Liverpool in Neil Mellor as he didn't have the pace. Give him the ball at the edge of the box and he could knock it in from almost anywhere except this wasn't enough.

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  • 38. At 4:36pm on 30 Apr 2009, lazypool2008 wrote:

    sorry,been unable to post due to techno problems,[charger broke]another great topic again,i thought darren fletcher has been outstanding for man utd,and hes the scotland captain.we wont hold that against him tho,for me carragher has been a legend,as is dirk kuyt,but the one player i would have given the award to is steven gerrard, a true world class midfielder in every sense and a very down to earth gentleman.

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  • 39. At 4:36pm on 30 Apr 2009, MadMilburn wrote:

    Just seen you're being let go by the proper Magpies. Hard luck. Did you have an inkling that it was going to happen? Could always sign for Kilmarnock- midfielder with injury record and poor pace, you'd fit right on in

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  • 40. At 4:48pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    post 39. I think I have got to set the record straight. I have only suffered with injuries this last year. Prior to that my record regarding injuries has been very good . Having got to the root of what my injury problems have been at Notts County I am now injury free and have been for the last 3 months.

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  • 41. At 4:52pm on 30 Apr 2009, pmullark wrote:

    I love your blogs Gav! Always pleased to see them pop up on the website.

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  • 42. At 4:55pm on 30 Apr 2009, BantamDick wrote:

    Good blog - agree that pace and acceleration need to be made two distinct qualities - the latter being vital in football.

    Another footballer who would have been premier league legend would have been 'Bad Beat' Robbie Blake - I think Chris Kamara gave him his break through at City - he was exceptionally skillful and didn't get enough of a chance in our premier league days, but an ounce of pace and he would have been premier league standard instead of Championship!

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  • 43. At 4:57pm on 30 Apr 2009, davemathieson wrote:

    Obviously you know about this, surprise you didn't mention you being released the end of the contract.

    Gutted for you, but did you feel it was coming? I always enjoy your blog, a good read and good insight into real football!

    What do you personally do now to get a new club? I've been toying with the idea of setting up an internet database of footballers who are currently unattached to advertise themselves to managers looking for them. This would include your age, position, achivements, appearances, and what level you are looking to play at. What do you think?

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  • 44. At 4:58pm on 30 Apr 2009, ShmertNickName wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 45. At 5:19pm on 30 Apr 2009, lewismathieson wrote:

    You've been released!!! You're outta werk at the end of the season!

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  • 46. At 5:24pm on 30 Apr 2009, brownieboy22 wrote:

    Sorry to hear you got released Gav. There's always a place for you at Kingston Arms FC!

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  • 47. At 5:29pm on 30 Apr 2009, rubban1 wrote:

    Hi Gav,

    Have read your blog all season and must admit to looking forward to the next blog each week.

    Just heard about your release from Notts County. I'm really gutted for you and hope you quickly find a new club.

    On your point about pace, as a Cardiff City fan I remember a striker we had called Kevin Bartlett. He couldn't trap a bag of cement but he was lightning fast and scored a good number of goals purely because of his pace.

    Does your blog continue next season?

    Good luck, mate

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  • 48. At 5:36pm on 30 Apr 2009, babyTeenwolf wrote:


    Sorry to hear you've been released. I'm sure its not the first time, so you'll know what the feeling is and the routes you have to look for.

    You blogged earlier on in the season, about similiar circumstances, so hopefully you'll find another club soon.

    County obviously don't know what there doing releasing Jamie Forrester as well, he's an excellent striker, and I'm surprised he's ended up in Lge 2 with his ability in the first place

    Good luck

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  • 49. At 5:45pm on 30 Apr 2009, Gavin Strachan wrote:

    post 47. Thanks very much and to be honest I am not sure.

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  • 50. At 5:54pm on 30 Apr 2009, kreidy81 wrote:

    heh gavin like your blog, sorry for the bad news that you are going to be left go from meadow lane, guess it comes with the territory. just one thing in relation to the young player of the one has seemed to mention stephen ireland. he has been playing unreal footie all year and he should even have been picked for contender for footballer of the year. ashley young has been good, but hasnt done a thing since january. ireland, even if he is an arrogant muppet, has been brilliant, and deserved the title

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  • 51. At 6:03pm on 30 Apr 2009, Cantanker wrote:

    life in the fast lane?
    You need a job son.


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  • 52. At 6:04pm on 30 Apr 2009, JD_The_Townfan wrote:

    Hi Gav always enjoy reading your blogs sorry to hear about your release from Notts County you should come and play for Huddersfield Town!

    One player for us comes to mind when talking about pace but lack of skill on the ball and that has to be Lionel Ainsworth!

    Hope you find a new club soon.

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  • 53. At 6:13pm on 30 Apr 2009, Starfire_99 wrote:

    Just read about you being released, bad luck with that.
    Mind you could try out for the Gills, they could do with the experience if they (hopefully) get through the playoffs and back into div 1.

    Failing that, you've got your writing/journalism to fall back on.

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  • 54. At 6:18pm on 30 Apr 2009, TottenhamFan321 wrote:

    Hi, been reading your blog for a long time now and think its great, hope it continues next season.

    Gutted to hear about your release from Notts County too, really hope you can find another club, don't understand why people feel the need to post rude comments on here.
    Good luck.

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  • 55. At 6:19pm on 30 Apr 2009, Jack wrote:

    Xabi Alonso is one of my favourite players as well - very underrated and unlucky that it seems that Rafa is trying to get rid of him.

    Bad luck about being released, hope you get a new club next season.

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  • 56. At 6:32pm on 30 Apr 2009, hs-999 wrote:


    Just to ask, what do you think of Gillingham this year? Although i support them, haven't seen much of them as they're in league 2 (no offence!), so what do u think??
    Also, Simeon Jackson is another player with bags of pace, and seems to have paid off for him this season looking at the goal charts!

    Good bliog, keep going

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  • 57. At 6:39pm on 30 Apr 2009, bruciebonus41 wrote:


    Hate to say it mate but maybe you should spend less time writing and more time on the training pitch!!!!


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  • 58. At 6:44pm on 30 Apr 2009, Kenwyne_is_Santa wrote:

    Another genuinely interesting blog from Gavin. I have been reading all season, and just wanted to say that I hope that werever Gavin is playing next season (and I'm guessing from post #40 that he is very keen to keep himself in the football picture) this blog continues or that he is somehow used as a contributor to this website. He is a genuine asset.

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  • 59. At 6:51pm on 30 Apr 2009, oke2008 [RIP #15] wrote:

    firstly @ post 9: no passing football wont get you anywhere in the lower leagues, Just look at my team Crewe Alex!

    also on the subject of the Alex, one player who i always thought had more than a yard of pace was Rodney Jack from St. Kitts & Nevis, always running and often provided a good finnish at the end of this pace.

    Gav, i believe you are aware of this player?

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  • 60. At 7:03pm on 30 Apr 2009, oke2008 [RIP #15] wrote:

    dont know if you'r still updating here Gav but you might want to give Gudjon a ring at Gresty Rd, we need a midfielder with league 2 experience and we fans dont care if you run or walk as long as you putin 100% every game, we even put up with Kenny Lunt's name

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  • 61. At 7:10pm on 30 Apr 2009, GrecianEmperor wrote:

    Sorry about your news today Gav, but to be honest there'll be many more like you in the next two or three weeks. I hope you get yourself a new club quickly.

    Fascinating blog today. I think most clubs have had their fare share of quick players with limited ability, but we at Exeter City went one further. For a few seasons we had Leon Braithwaite, who was the brother of British athlete and sprinter Darren Braithwaite. The hugely positive thing about his speed, as a supporter on the terrace, was that you didn't actually see him miss-control the ball, it happened too quickly.

    In reply to oke2008, of course you can play your way out of the lower leagues. Swansea did it last year to great effect and we Grecians are trying to do our best this season, it may well happen yet.

    What do you make of the battle to get out of Div 2 this year Gav? Who will take the plaudits on Saturday and who do you think will taste success at Wembley? I pray it will be Exeter City and we can continue to play football the way it should be, win, lose or draw in Division one next season. Remember, we taught the Brazilians how to play!

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  • 62. At 7:28pm on 30 Apr 2009, ohwotthehell wrote:

    Hi Gavin

    Having read all your blogs and commented on a few please accept my best regards in your search for new employment. With your new found fame surely someone will snap you up - although your honesty might possibly be taken into consideration by some less scrupulous employers?

    Another top blog and more food for thought - you should go far in your journalism, alternatively how about a book?

    All the best

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  • 63. At 8:10pm on 30 Apr 2009, DrivngChip24 wrote:

    Hi Gavin, top blog yet again.

    As a County fan I'm really sorry to hear that you've been released. Good luck in the future whether it be at another club, or in your (hopefully) new career as a journalist.

    All the best, mate.

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  • 64. At 8:17pm on 30 Apr 2009, elfobeiro wrote:


    Very sorry to hear the news today. And why people come on here to 'laugh' at someone who just lost their job is beyond me.

    Would you consider offers from abroad? I live in Canada and have seen a few Brits making a go of it in the states and Canada, in the MLS and A-League... I have a contact over here as well if you're interested!

    Good luck mate, and great blog.

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  • 65. At 8:17pm on 30 Apr 2009, politeDJDave wrote:

    I'm sure you'll find a new club Gavin. Bet my team, Burton Albion, would be worth a call as they'll probably be looking for a couple of midfielders with League 2 experience now they have been promoted. At least your topic for next week sorts itself out now!

    And a note to the BBC, what are you messing about for!? Sign this man up for more blogs next season please!


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  • 66. At 8:30pm on 30 Apr 2009, DrivngChip24 wrote:

    To be honest I think Charlie has lost the plot by letting you and Butch go.
    Anyway, going back to the pace issue, it's not everything. Weston has been lauded all season but to be honest his goal scoring record is abysmal and for the most part his final ball is shocking.

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  • 67. At 8:39pm on 30 Apr 2009, Riggadon wrote:

    I've noticed in the same way that non pacey players have their own set of problems to come up against, so do pacey players.

    I give you Nathan Tyson as my prime example.

    He goes like brown stuff off a shovel and is custom built for sprinting, but because of this, the problem he has to deal with is the load on his hamstrings.

    So for me, its all might say "I wish I had his pace", but he's probably thinking things like "I wish I had his control and eye for a pass".

    It's like if your skint and you wish you were rich because you think it'll solve all your does' just presents you with a new set of problems.

    So be happy with what you have Gav...dont spend too much time thinking about what the other guy's got, because in reality, he's probably looking at you in the same fashion.

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  • 68. At 8:49pm on 30 Apr 2009, Riggadon wrote:

    P.S Was very sorry to hear about you-know-what. I hope you get sorted out with another club in the summer. Keep your hand in mate.

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  • 69. At 9:27pm on 30 Apr 2009, MadMilburn wrote:

    Ah right, just i remember being telt that when you were at Hartlepool you missed a fair bit of a season due to an injury. Offer for Killie is still open though- brilliant pies and means we'd actually get another player who can get the odd goal from free kicks. Hope you get fixed up with a decent side though

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  • 70. At 9:32pm on 30 Apr 2009, matt1710 wrote:

    Like most of us i hope you find a club soon prehaps you could come and play for my club, Woking? Anyway what i wanted to say is this if pace is so important due to the way we play the game in this country, does that mean that because Italy is considered to play a slower more techinal game they have players who probarly would only be good enough to play in our lower leagues but are able to build World Cup winning sides?

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  • 71. At 9:37pm on 30 Apr 2009, matt1710 wrote:

    And reference John Williams i remember a competion set up by one of the TV networks to find the fastest footballer which he did indeed win.

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  • 72. At 9:38pm on 30 Apr 2009, omahahl24 wrote:

    Great blog as usual. I'm sure you'll still be at your chosen career next season (playing footie you lucky bugger) but surely the BBC can't drop this blog whatever happens next for you.

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  • 73. At 9:54pm on 30 Apr 2009, edwinovich wrote:

    Thoroughly enjoy every article. BBC would be crazy to drop this blog. Is there a petition site or whatever to sign up to? How can we start one?
    Best of luck with finding a new club....Burton Albion would be interesting!!!!!

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  • 74. At 10:09pm on 30 Apr 2009, superdoopahoopsa wrote:

    Great blog Gav, sorry to hear you've been released. Why not try for AFC Wimbledon a team on the way up!

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  • 75. At 10:16pm on 30 Apr 2009, SHABBA1888 wrote:

    Some of you guys would need to take a look at yourselves before you come on here laughing at a footballer being released from his club.

    Did you laugh at your mate when he was relesaed from his job recently? Didn't think so. And lets face it, we all know someone who has been affected by the economic downturn and this is no different.

    Gav, chin up mate. I have faith that the BBC are sensible enough to still have you as a blogger next year regardless of what club you're associated with. It is by far the best blog on here and the only one that I genuinely get excited about when I see it appear on my screen every thursday! :-)

    Hail Hail

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  • 76. At 10:50pm on 30 Apr 2009, Sergei from IT wrote:

    "Take David Beckham or Xabi Alonso, who have compensated for their lack of pace with amazing passing ability".

    There are other facets to compensate for lack of pace apart from passing ability. A 'football' brain is a tremendous help.

    I suggest Teddy Sheringham as the leading exponent.

    Commiserations with your P45 but I somehow doubt I will be seeing you down the Job Centre. Good Luck with whatever you do.

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  • 77. At 10:55pm on 30 Apr 2009, fieryjack17 wrote:

    Hi Gav
    Another Notts fan here who will be sorry to see you go.

    I'm in agreement with some of the previous comments, the BBC must let you continue your excellent blogs into next season.

    All the best for next season, I hope you end up getting a decent contract elsewhere (if you do, please don't come back to Meadow Lane and score against us, like most of our ex-players like to do)

    Another great article, by the way,

    Hail Hail indeed!

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  • 78. At 11:07pm on 30 Apr 2009, dondon1961 wrote:

    Hi Gav. Sorry your not being kept for next year, but I recon you have a couple of more years in you. As for the blog if the BBC do drop you, whichThey shouldnt, then you can continue elsewhere and the rest of us can follow. Best wishes finding another club

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  • 79. At 11:38pm on 30 Apr 2009, the_jerry wrote:

    Hi Gavin,

    It is absolutely disgraceful you have been made fun off at losing your job. There is no need for it. Your blogs have always been excellent and I think you are better than some of the more distinguished journalists in the BBC. Hope they let you continue writing next season.

    Is this the end of your playing career? Or do you fancy dropping another division to keep playing. Im sure you have a mortgage to pay like everybody else!!!

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  • 80. At 00:06am on 01 May 2009, magpie6 wrote:

    Although this isn't really in reference to the blog, I just wanted to say that as a Notts fan I was extremely disappointed to hear that your contract has not been renewed. I hope that you manage to find a new club soon and go on to bigger and better things. All the best for the future Gav.


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  • 81. At 00:42am on 01 May 2009, Laishers wrote:

    Hey there Gav, two things!

    Firstly, pace IS an amazing asset to have, of that there can be no doubt. However, as you so rightly pointed out, some of the greatest players are those lacking in this department. I'd also echo the sentiments of Sergei from IT by mentioning Teddy Sheringham. The man's an absolute legend, and his sprinting speed was slower than Michael Owen backtracking to defend. The vision, the movement... what a pro.

    Secondly, I'm going to add my voice to all those wishing you the very best. Please, please, PLEASE get in touch with Mike Newell at Grimsby. I'd love to see you pulling on the famous black and white stripes, mate!

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  • 82. At 02:02am on 01 May 2009, Arctic wrote:

    You might think pace is great and it may well be to someone who has other decent qualities like being able to control the ball or pass it with at least 50% accuracy over 10 yrds.

    But I can assure you that by itself it's worthless. I used to run 100 meters in under 11 seconds, could run 3 miles in around 16-17 minutes and had stamina to keep running for 90 minutes.

    My pace would give every new manager or coach I came across hope that I could do something worthwhile. The very sad truth is that without those other skills I mentioned my career in football was limited to the subs bench on a Sunday league team.

    I can tell you right now I'd much rather have had 1/2 the skill you have and made it to any professional football team than being able to just run fast. And I'm sure some of the people I mistimed my tackles on agree.

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  • 83. At 02:09am on 01 May 2009, Spaced Invader wrote:

    Interesting article Gavin. Sometimes pace can be over-rated by managers, to the detriment of smarter, slower players. There's been some major players over the years who've reached the top purely on having pace, and no real idea of how to influence a game, or frankly even control a ball! (Why does Ryan Babel come to mind as I write this?!). As a Man United fan I spent many years baffled by the frequent references y Sir Alex to Mickael Silvestre's pace being an asset, as it helped him make some last ditch tackles when strikers had past him... Call me crazy, but I'd rather have a slower defender that doesn't let the striker past in the first place!

    Seems lots of people have treated your depature from Notts Co as a sad thing - why? Change is inevitable. Seems to me to be the start of a new adventure! Its sure to provide great material for future blogs!!

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  • 84. At 08:22am on 01 May 2009, ThePaniniBandit wrote:

    64 and 79 - Well said!

    I know I shouldn't, but I actually HOPE that the idiots that came on here to laugh at anothers' misfortune lose THEIR jobs this morning.

    Gavin - best of luck sorting out your future - I'm sure there's a few years left yet.

    If you can bring yourself to do it, a blog about footballers finding a new club would be an amazing insight.

    All the best

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  • 85. At 08:40am on 01 May 2009, alwayswrong wrote:

    Hi Gav,

    Another Notts fan who just want to say "Thanks" for your work over the last couple of seasons. I thought you were worth another year, but it looks like the manager is clearing the decks (all 5 names were a real surprise to me)

    A few weeks ago I thanked you for visiting the hospital as a team, now i'd just like to reapeat my thanks and wish you all the best and hope you find a team quickly and have a great season with them.

    Cheers mate.

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  • 86. At 08:59am on 01 May 2009, Woody Woody Woody Na Na Na Na Na wrote:

    Gav don't worry mate... I'll sign you on football manager.

    Every little helps

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  • 87. At 10:07am on 01 May 2009, ChrisDFC wrote:

    Great blog as usual Gavin.

    I saw on SSN that you are going to be released from Notts County and i'm sorry to hear about it. Would you consider a move upto Scotland to play because i read in a previous blog that you enjoyed your time at Dundee and Motherwell.

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  • 88. At 10:17am on 01 May 2009, Leidens_SS wrote:

    Hi Gavin, my first comment, though I have been reading since your first blog. I wish you good luck with whatever happens next, but please keep up the journo work, you are doing a good job. I hope the BBC keep you on so that we can see and understand what it is like to go through the hard work of looking for a new job, attending trials and travelling the country, it is not the glamourous or the easy life most readers will think. As someone who was close to a footballer who tried to make it and saw him put in the road miles, the trials, the one off reserve games all trying to make an impression and secure the next pay check.

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  • 89. At 10:33am on 01 May 2009, ilovevegemite wrote:


    Could you do a blog on the fall of Lee Sharpe as it would be interesting to know how one day you are good enough to play for Man U and now he plays in the lower leagues. Was his attitude to blame or an injury or what?

    Kidderminster Harriers are my other team in the Conference, want to play for them? Or have you considered a Scottish team where the standard is a little lower I believe.

    How can all these lower league teams just release 90 percent of their players over the summer so they don't have to pay them and then have to sign up an entire team just before the season starts again? Those players let go then have no money for a summer vacation which they earned the right to and then have to compete with hundreds of other players to find a new team. I think all teams in League 2 and below should be forced to go part time which would give the players a chance to get some steady income and give the clubs a better chance of survival.

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  • 90. At 11:00am on 01 May 2009, lost_the_flyaway wrote:

    Perfect example...Newcastle's Ameobi.
    Has there ever been a striker with less skill on the ball in the top flight?

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  • 91. At 11:12am on 01 May 2009, cryin' white tears wrote:

    Well I guess we know what the topic of your next blog will be...

    And I get the sense that you've been there before and this 'letting go' is another setback you'll get over and will come back from.

    But what of the long term future for you? It's a case of diminishing returns on the playing side, do you really want to hacking about in the Blue Square?

    I presume you've got mixed feelings about managing/coaching, having seen your dad suffer in it. You have a brain, and can write, use this blog as a platform for a writing career. It'd be a good way to combine the love of the game with a more long-term job.

    And good luck to you!

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  • 92. At 12:13pm on 01 May 2009, ThePaniniBandit wrote:


    I'll see your Shola Ameobi, and raise you a Jason Lee (he's got a pineapple on his head etc etc, and so on and so on!)

    The words cows ar$e and banjo immediately sprang to mind!

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  • 93. At 1:06pm on 01 May 2009, nottscountyfc1862 wrote:

    Gavin - I hope you find a club soon.

    To the Notts fans saying that they are sorry he (Gavin) has not had his contract renewed; I am shocked!

    We have had our worst season in history, the poorest midfield I have seen, and yet you wish that we kept these players on?

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  • 94. At 1:15pm on 01 May 2009, tourbloke wrote:

    Hi Gavin,

    Yet another Notts fan wishing you all the best for the future. Yes, we've had a grim season in terms of results, but the team have played some great football at times. As an honest and hardworking professional, it's clear that you'll find a new club soon; best of luck, and thanks for your time at Meadow Lane.

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  • 95. At 1:43pm on 01 May 2009, DrivngChip24 wrote:


    Sorry to have 'shocked' you, but I wholeheartedly stand by my comments. I mentioned two of the players that I was sorry to see go. One, being Gavin, who (injury aside) always played well for us, and the other was our top scorer with twelve (from midfield) in a truly terrible side last season, and after injury for a good part of this season still managed to grab a very respectable eight. Now, when you consider that Charlie in his infinite wisdom didn't always start Butcher when fit, you have to wonder whether it is the players that he needs to get rid of, or whether he should take a closer look at his own decision making.
    'The poorest midfield you've seen'?
    Hardly surprising when you leave out one of your most consistent players, is it?

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  • 96. At 2:32pm on 01 May 2009, KingArthuronice wrote:

    Sorry to hear you have lost your job. I sincerely hope you find another club, you sound like you have a true passion for football. Even if it means playing in the Conference so be it, I think virtually all of us would kill (metaphorically) to do a job we truly love.
    I agree that your blogs are are a refreshing change but surely the writing is secondary? I am not suggesting that the BBC 'drop' you also but if you have a stark choice between a weekly column on this website or a season at whoever, keep your boots on. Best of luck to you.

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  • 97. At 2:42pm on 01 May 2009, nottscountyfc1862 wrote:

    The manager is tripe as well as the players this season. Butcher has been shocking (without his goals he offers nothing else).. Strachan isn't an effective player, and we would get nowhere with him in our midfield.

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  • 98. At 3:27pm on 01 May 2009, DrivngChip24 wrote:

    Do you actually know what you're talking about?

    Strachan isn't an effective player, and we would get nowhere with him in our midfield.

    Is this as opposed to the dizzy heights we reached without him?

    Butcher has been shocking (without his goals he offers nothing else)..

    Are you not missing the point? Even if that (quite ridiculous) statement was true, he still offers goals, you just said it yourself. But maybe I'm just being silly. Why, in an appallingly bad team with some of the worst strikers in the league, would we want to keep someone who 'only offers us goals'?

    Unfortunately though, I have to agree with you about the manager.

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  • 99. At 4:47pm on 01 May 2009, moonman100sco wrote:

    Good blog Gav,
    I agree with the guys on here that Didier Agathe was one who always had the lightning pace to terrify defenders. His delivery sometimes left a lot to be desired but when he was in the mood, he could certainly light up any game (2 assists in the UEFA cup final against Porto!!).
    With pace though, these guys need to be supremely fit to continue it for 90 mins. There would be uproar if a guy with pace spent the first 20 mins skinning the defender then the rest of the game with his hands on his hips!!
    Good luck in finding a new club

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  • 100. At 9:00pm on 01 May 2009, tom_ncfc wrote:

    Hi Gav,

    Sorry to hear about your release from Notts - all the best for the future

    being a Notts season ticket holder, i am actually feel a lot of sympathy for you as you have had, is this correct, three hamstring problems since joining us? I would have liked to have seen you on a few more occaisions this season especially as we have not been the best in the centre of the park this season


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  • 101. At 9:50pm on 01 May 2009, newzealandDougie wrote:

    Hi Gavin

    I hope the blog continues wherever you end up (i remember you saying in one blog that you would keep playing as long as possible). You have a very valuable asset in your writing as you obviously have a natural talent in discerning what will make an interesting story. I read all the BBC Sports Blogs and i would rate you and Tim Vickery as my favourite contributors.

    Best of luck with the future.

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  • 102. At 5:04pm on 02 May 2009, Bluebird Blowen Of The Grange End CCFC 4th Cheerleader wrote:

    Joe Ledley is another fantastic player but has little pace. Loved the blog all season Gav. Best of luck for the future hope another team picks you up for next season.

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  • 103. At 8:42pm on 04 May 2009, Andres Mora wrote:

    Great blog Gavin,

    For a footballer pace is a must nowadays, but what happens when players that rely heavily on it grow old? Look what happened to Michael Owen or Ronaldo (the Brazilian one). On the other hand, Ryan Giggs has adapted his game perfectly as years go by.

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  • 104. At 09:58am on 05 May 2009, woddy wrote:

    Sorry to hear about the "letting go" Gav, on the plus side you must have one of the most viewed blogs on the BBC site, they'd be silly not to sign you up regardless what you are doing next season.

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  • 105. At 1:12pm on 05 May 2009, Selwonknnelg wrote:

    Hi Gavin,

    As a magpie i'm sorry to see you go, however I will still look forward to the blogs (always grest reading), good luck in the future with what ever you do.

    P.S. Can you keep a line open to Ian Mc, I think he going to need all the help he can get.

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  • 106. At 4:56pm on 05 May 2009, nigeyy wrote:


    Very much enjoy reading your blogs -you give an interesting real life more down-to-earth view of professional football in the lower leagues.

    Unfortunately with great visibility comes the numpties who gloat over your recent release -just jealousy mate, by people who haven't got the skills and drive you've shown to make a career out of it. Small mindedness....

    Good luck with your next career move. As someone else posted, what about the MLS in the USA? I don't think you'd make a fortune but the experience both from a playing and journalistic angle might be enticing for you -more difficult from a family point of view, but still doable. A fresh challenge?

    What about a blog on players you've known who've upended and moved? That's one aspect of professional football that must be difficult from a family perspective -seems rarely do you get players who start and finish a long career with a club. And with considerably less money in the lower leagues, it must make it quite a big and risky decision for some....

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  • 107. At 9:04pm on 06 May 2009, mball36 wrote:

    Gavin, Having read teletext and seen your fate I was genuinly dissapointed, I have enjoyed all your blogs. I hope you find a club that appreciates your talents next season, I also hope to be reading your blogs next season.
    Good luck and thanks for a blinding read. Martin a WWFC fan (and no we are not in the premiership)

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  • 108. At 11:25pm on 06 May 2009, Golligosh wrote:

    Sorry to see you leave Gav. You've had bad luck with the hamstrings, it can't have been easy for Charlie as he brought you to us. We've not had a decent midfielder since Mark Draper, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you were in his league, but injury free a definite cut above the other 4th division rubbish we have and get. Talking of pace, you managed to charge up the pitch to get into the box against, was it Exeter, OK. Perhaps the 4th division brain is so slow your opponents didn't think that you would make it all the way. You showed them with a great finish though.

    Good luck with the journo career. Dave McVay seems to have cracked it, so you should as well.

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