Star pupil Gille­spie is ready to pass his new exam at Chel­tenham

FO­CUS ON ROBINS’ EX-SCHOOL­BOY PRODIGY

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Paul Smith

Steven Gille­spie broke Rob­bie Fowler’s school­boy goalscor­ing record – but be­ing thrust into the Fleet­wood youth team at the age of 28 did not re­vive that form.

Bet­ter times came at Chel­tenham, and af­ter re­turn­ing to the Robins on a one-month loan deal last week, Gille­spie hopes fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings could over­come his fishy spell with the Cod Army.

Gille­spie was forced to train with the youth team at High­bury Sta­dium be­fore be­ing made avail­able for trans­fer just a year af­ter join­ing the am­bi­tious League Two club.

Fol­low­ing four suc­cess­ful sea­sons in League One with Colch­ester United, Gille­spie ex­pected big things from his move to Fleet­wood.

But he made just four ap­pear­ances af­ter Christ­mas fol­low­ing the ap­point­ment of boss Gra­ham Alexan­der to re­place Micky Mel­lon, who had signed him.

Gille­spie’s move from Chel­tenham to Colch­ester in the sum­mer of 2008 for £400,000 re­mains the Robins’ club record trans­fer.

Now things have come full cir­cle for the player, whose Liver­pool Schools record, pre­vi­ously held by Fowler, was sub­se­quently bro­ken by Wayne Rooney, who hit 72 in a sea­son.

“The record is some­thing I get re­minded of but un­for­tu­nately a player called Wayne Rooney ended up break­ing it – though he is not a bad player to have it taken from you,” said Gille­spie, who scored 23 goals in 71 games dur­ing his first spell with the Robins.

“I was proud of it at the time, it gave me con­fi­dence but I scored goals as a young­ster all the way through.

Frus­tra­tion

“I am sad at how things have turned out at Fleet­wood. It is an am­bi­tious club and this year they have signed a lot of play­ers and the pres­sure is there for them to go up.

“Any­thing other than pro­mo­tion is go­ing to be deemed a fail­ure – but that is the type of place you want to be around. As a foot­baller you want that pres­sure to be win­ning games.

“It hasn’t worked out for me there but it is still my par­ent club and I am con­tracted there un­til the end of the sea­son so you don’t know what will hap­pen.

“But at the mo­ment I am not in the man­ager’s plans. Last year was very frus­trat­ing, par­tic­u­larly from Jan­uary, be­cause I didn’t miss a day’s train­ing but in­stead of play­ing I was in the gym on a Satur­day and that isn’t what any foot­baller wants, and I didn’t think it was fair.

“Now it is good to see some fa­mil­iar faces at Chel­tenham. It is a good op­por­tu­nity for me to play some football on a Satur­day again which is what I want.”

Gille­spie orig­i­nally joined Chel­tenham from Bris­tol City in Jan­uary 2005, turn­ing two loan stints into a per­ma­nent deal a year later.

Un­der John Ward, Chel­tenham se­cured pro­mo­tion into League One fol­low­ing a 1-0 win over Grimsby Town in the play-off fi­nal, and stayed there for three years dur­ing which time Gille­spie moved on to Colch­ester – though not un­til af­ter mem­o­rably scor­ing the win­ner in a 1-0 league vic­tory over Leeds United.

It is th­ese good times that Gille­spie, who made his re­turn in the 3-1 de­feat at home to Ply­mouth, hopes to re-live over the next few games.

“I re­ally en­joyed my first game back and I got a great re­cep­tion,” he added. “Chel­tenham have been re­ally close to pro­mo­tion a lot in re­cent sea­sons and I have no doubt they can chal­lenge for the play-offs again.

“From what I have seen in train­ing I am con­fi­dent it can hap­pen, there is some qual­ity in the squad.

“The re­sult against Ply­mouth was dis­ap­point­ing but for me it was good to get out there and get some ac­tion again, I re­ally en­joyed it.

“I am sure over the com­ing weeks we will put things right and get some re­sults.

“I scored a lot of goals there be­fore and the club has been good to me, and hope­fully I have been for them too.

“But the fans won’t be singing my name much longer if I don’t de­liver. Football fans want goals and they want wins so I need to play my part again.

“I don’t know what will hap­pen af­ter the month is up but I be­lieve I can score goals.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

TEEN TAL­ENTS: Steven Gille­spie scores for Colch­ester against Ply­mouth. In­sets: Wayne Rooney and Rob­bie Fowler

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