TWIST OF FATE

Ady Pen­nock is chuffed to get the chance to man­age the Gills

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Sam El­liott

ADY PEN­NOCK is a be­liever. Good job, too. If he’d lost his faith a game be­fore the end of last sea­son, he may have con­sid­ered walk­ing away for good.

The new Gilling­ham man­ager is a big fan of fate as well. He’s quite taken with the num­ber 17 but just a few months ago he would have been for­given for think­ing his num­ber was up.

Pen­nock re­placed Justin Ed­in­burgh at the League One Gills af­ter the Kent club tum­bled into the lower half of the ta­ble, rolling away from their play-off tar­get in the process.

The new man was cer­tainly a left-field choice but as one of the game’s most re­spected coaches, it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore he was given a go in the EFL.

Re­spected

The 45-year-old to­day re­veals he turned down the chance to talk to Notts County and Port Vale about their va­can­cies – as well as Black­burn Rovers, who were keen on him be­com­ing their new de­fen­sive coach.

But Pen­nock wanted to go home. Gilling­ham is his club and his town and he lives less than five min­utes from the ground. Al­though it wasn’t the high-pro­file ap­point­ment fans per­haps ex­pected, they have one of their own fight­ing their cor­ner.

As cap­tain he took them into the First Di­vi­sion for the first time in their his­tory back in 2000 and now he wants to do the same as their man­ager. He told The Foot­ball League

Pa­per: “I be­lieve in fate, I al­ways hoped I would one day get the chance to man­age this club af­ter hav­ing such a strong as­so­ci­a­tion with them and I can’t be­gin to tell you how proud I am to re­turn here as man­ager.

“I say fate be­cause if things had worked out in a dif­fer­ent way and I hadn’t been sacked by For­est Green Rovers at the end of last sea­son, just be­fore the Na­tional League play-offs be­gan, then I wouldn’t have had this op­por­tu­nity at all.

Tragedy

“It was tough to take at the time, of course it was los­ing my job a few days be­fore the se­ri­ous stuff be­gan, but I know things hap­pen for a rea­son. I be­lieve in all that, I truly do. “I’m cur­rently putting my faith in the num­ber 17!” he added. “That’s the num­ber I wore as a player at Gilling­ham, that’s the num­ber of years it is since I led the team up to col­lect the tro­phy when we won pro­mo­tion and Jan­uary 17 is the date of my first home match in front of the fans (v AFC Wim­ble­don).

“Of course I got the job a few days into 2017 – un­for­tu­nately we’re 17th in the ta­ble, but let’s hope we won’t be there for too long!”

There’s an­other rea­son why he is so glad to be back in­volved in the game he loves.

Tragedy struck the Pen­nock fam­ily in Novem­ber, his brother Kevin col­lapsed and died of a heart at­tack aged just 47. It rocked the man­ager, but the life-chang­ing mo­ment will add fuel to his en­gine as he looks to make a suc­cess of his Med­way chance.

“Los­ing Kevin was ob­vi­ously a shock for all of us,” Pen­nock said. “We’ve had a few weeks now but it doesn’t get any eas­ier. We’re cop­ing as a fam­ily, and it makes me in­cred­i­bly sad that he wasn’t around to hear the news that I had been given the Gilling­ham job. He would have been so happy.”

Chair­man Paul Scally has given Pen­nock, who will be joined by Welling United man­ager Jamie Day and Brom­ley coach Steve Lovell as his as­sis­tants, deals un­til the end of the sea­son.

“A change was nec­es­sary to en­sure the club achieves the best po­si­tion pos­si­ble,” Scally said. “The current squad is the most ex­pen­sive in the his­tory of Gilling­ham FC, it has enor­mous po­ten­tial and is ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing great suc­cess over the re­main­der of the

sea­son and be­yond.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

OLD DAYS: Gilling­ham’s Ady Pen­nock clears from Black­burn’s Craig Hignett JOY: Cel­e­brat­ing pro­mo­tion with the Gills, left, and man­ag­ing For­est Green

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