Thursday, January 23, 2014
The East Devon Grecians, the local supporters group of Exeter City Football Club, held another of their popular ‘Meet a City favourite’ evenings, writes Gareth Thomas.
The evening was themed around the Chinese New Year and staged at the War Memorial Club hosted with Alan Gow the star guest.
War Memorial Club manager Ian Thomas help to lay on a fantastic evening that saw over fifty people attend and tuck into a magnificent feast provided by the Hong Kong restaurant.
The city footballer proved to be a most congenial guest and had so much time for everyone present. The club held a question and answer session with the Grecian’s star who first spoke about who he is.
He said: “I come from Clydebank, near Glasgow. I played for Clydebank as a junior from the age of 16, and moved to Airdrie Utd for three years as a professional. During that time we rose to the Scottish First Division. I then moved to Falkirk, and rose with them into the Scottish Premier League. I moved to Rangers for two years, but only started in three matches, plus some substitutions. Rangers offered £100,000 for me, but Falkirk wanted £1,000,000! Rangers had bought several star internationals and I was always fourth or firth choice as a striker. I moved to Blackpool on loan, and was going to join Wolves but I failed a medical. Then I moved to Norwich, and then down to Plymouth for five months. Eventually Clydebank folded, and it was sad to see houses and shops being built on the ground. People complained, but we had one match with just 48 supporters. There’s now a junior club in the town.”
He continued: “I wanted to go back to Scotland, so joined Hibernian, then Motherwell. I needed an Achilles heel operation, which interrupted my career. I was offered a job in India. There are two main clubs in Kolkata, both owned by the same man, who also owns Kingfisher beer. Their local derbies have a crowd of 120,000. We were accommodated well, but there is terrible poverty on the streets, and it’s a very hard place to live. I heard through a friend that there might be an opening at Exeter, and Paul Tisdale knew of me from my time at Plymouth, so I secured a two year contract, which ends this season. My wife and I have a three month old baby, and we’re very happy living in Exmouth. As we all know the club has very little money, and I don’t know if my contract will be renewed, and I don’t expect to hear until the end of the season – I would really like to stay. On the way back from India I went to Iran, where there was a chance of a contract, but I wouldn’t have been able to bring my money out if I took the job, so that was a non-starter. After my interview at Exeter I asked John Lee (an East Devon Grecian) for a lift to the airport. He agreed provided I accepted the offer!
There was then a question and answer session.
First up; What are “Old Firm” matches like?
Gow replied: “I was on the bench when Rangers played Celtic, and never actually played in that tie, but Glasgow goes crazy on the days when they play. I was always a Rangers fan, but many of my family support Celtic. Gordon Strachan tried to sign me, but it didn’t work out. Parkhead is probably my favourite stadium. I played there for Falkirk and scored. I was 24 and it’s probably my best footballing moment.”
Who’s the best manager you’ve played for?
To this Gow said: “The one who helped my career most was John Hughes at Falkirk, who’s now at Inverness CT.”
What music do you listen to pre-match?
Gow said: “The younger players have Gangsta Rap playing in the changing room. I am not much into music, so tend to go for a walk around before the match.”
What is it about the current Exeter City home form?
Gow responded: “It’s frustrating for everyone, players, manager, fans. We were better than Mansfield, better than Bristol Rovers.”
Which of the young players is best?
To which the City favourite said: “Scott Bennett, no doubt. Matt Grimes is only 18 and has only had about 10 starts, but he should develop into a good player. I was impressed by Jake Gosling, but he’s played less this year.”
How is Matt Oakley?
Gow said: “He ruptured an ankle and needed an operation on the broken bones. He is running again.”
When you stop playing in a few years, what will you do?
“I am taking my B license in a few months and may go into coaching, but I am not sure.”
What is current City boss Paul Tisdale like?
“He is unique. He’s a very deep thinker, and very hard working. He watches the recording of our matches at quarter speed each Sunday afternoon!”
You’re a player who’s comfortable on the ball. Do you get targeted?
“Now I am often on the wing where you get targeted less, but if you’re in the middle it is hard. I once saw an opposition “tactics notice” which had been left on a notice board. It said “Gow, unfit, will shoot from any position, boot him!”
What are referee’s like?
“They vary. Some will talk throughout the match to encourage good play. But I was hit in the face by a player right next to a linesman, who told me he ‘hadn’t seen it’.
What advice would you give to younger players?
“Keep away from women and drink! It’s not bad in Exeter, but in bigger cities players are subject to a lot of temptations.”
Are senior players asked to watch the Under-21 matches?
“No, they do so because they are friends with the younger players and want to see them play.”
What’s the morale like among the players at City?
“I’ve been at clubs where players arrive for training hung-over. There are no bad eggs at Exeter, no disruptive influences.”
In the past there were a lot of younger Scottish players in England, but that’s dried up, what are your views on this?
“I am concerned about the level of foreign players in the Premier Leagues (both England and Scotland). Both Rangers and Celtic have foreign stars. It’s not good for the national sides. We need a rule restricting the numbers.”
Make sure of a regular read of the Sidmouth Herald for all the latest from the East Devon Grecians.