Stephen Clemence says he can't wait to take charge of his first Gillingham game this Saturday against Hereford in the Emirates FA Cup.
Gillingham’s brand new Head Coach Stephen Clemence begins his tenure at the club with a fixture in the oldest football competition in world football, The FA Cup.
The opponents come in the form of National League North side Hereford and Clemence is targeting nothing other than a win.
Stephen’s own father, Ray Clemence, collected silverware like a magpie during his playing career, picking up 21 major honours including two FA Cup winners medals, so the Gills’ boss knows a thing or two about the competition, and he won’t be taking it lightly.
“I can’t wait for the game, it’s the FA Cup,” said Clemence. “Win a couple of games and we could get a tie against one of the big Premier League teams. I am sure all the players would like to take them on, I know I would and it would be great for Gillingham. That’s the aim and we will put a strong team out.
“I have great memories of the FA Cup with my family history. The furthest I got was the semi-final when we got beat by Arsenal when I was playing for Spurs. It was the biggest game of my career and unfortunately we ended up on the wrong side of the result, but I can still remember the feelings of that day.
“I can remember going to the 1987 FA Cup final when Tottenham were the clear favourites and Coventry beat them 3-2. My dad felt it was going to be his last game at Wembley, he was 39 and I was about 10. He managed to get me on the pitch before the game, which was unheard of. I was incredibly proud of my father, he achieved a lot in the game.
“It is my one regret that he is not here, he would be so proud right now. He would be the biggest supporter of Gillingham. It is a shame he is not here. Hopefully he is watching down on the game.
“I’m looking forward to the FA Cup game with Hereford and the players should be looking forward to it. We are not expecting an easy game but we have done our homework. Let’s go and take them on!”
As well as doing his research on the opponents, Clemence has also had to find out quickly about his own players’ qualities.
“I have watched pretty much all the Gillingham games this season and I can see they are a good group,” he said. “But obviously you need to see them in the flesh. I won’t really know about them until I get in the dugout and see them on a match day.
“I am here to improve people and that starts on Saturday. How we play going forward is not going to change over night, it takes time, but we will get there.
“I have done my work, I have had a good career, I have played over 400 games in the Premier League and Championship as an assistant manager and I think I have done it the right way. I haven’t jumped straight into this, I am ready to go. The only promise I will make is that I will give it my all.
“Every game is a challenge in football and that will be no different here but bring them on.”