Evans explains Fuller decision
Evans explains Fuller decision

The ever-popular Barry Fuller has been given the chance to leave Gillingham if he desires after talks last week with boss Steve Evans, who has explained his reasons to allow the defender to leave.

The Gills boss explained the position when he spoke with KSN – he said, “when Barry signed a new contract prior to my taking over – he signed it I think in the April or May when Steve Lovell was the manager – and there was a clause in that whereby if he played a certain number of games, he’d get another year!”

“And if he reached that level, Barry could take an extra year – and the club will honour that of course – and so he should as he had a really good season for me.”

“But what I’ve said to him is that if that clause wasn’t in, he’d have been released – I have to be honest and I was honest with everyone.”

“Barry’s been brilliant and he’s well regarded by the supporters; he’s led the club at Wembley etc., and so he should – he should be well revered! I think that supporters also acknowledge that these are unprecedented times and they also acknowledge that as a football manager, you can’t do sentiment and it’s always tough.”

Evans went on, “I’ve had great captains and players with me over the years, but when the journey’s ended, the journey’s ended, and if Barry chooses to come back in and then he’ll be judged like everyone else.”

“He also knows that it will be difficult for him to play I think; he’s had a really good season but he was getting tired towards the end – we probably stopped at the right time for him – but in saying that, he gives you everything that he’s got, he a consummate professional and we’ll treat him as the professional that he deserves to be treated like.”

The Gills boss then updated us on the position of Lee Hodson who spent the end of last season in Scotland with St Mirren.

“They’re keen to keep Lee,” said Evans, “he’s had a good spell up there in the SPL and he’s enjoyed it! It was good to see him – he’s a lovely kid and has just become a father – and there’s another club in the North of the country in League One who has an interest in talking to him which we’ve given permission to.”

“I know the manager at St Mirren and he’s keen to keep him, so I would say that it’s almost certain that Lee will either go back to Scotland or certainly that’s where I feel that his future will be.”

The week ahead sees the restart of the Championship and the Gills boss is pleased for one of his former clubs – he told us, “I’m delighted first and foremost for Leeds United! I think it’s important knowing what it’s like to be at Leeds United, their supporters want it done on the pitch – one million percent they do!”

“And for them to have the opportunity to do that… I’ve had a chat with a couple of the guys behind the scenes which has been great to catch up with them. So, it’s great for them in the weeks ahead.”

Evans went on, “it’s not such good news for Peterborough though that League One has stopped. I’m disappointed for Darragh (MacAnthony – the club’s Chairman) and the guys who make up the deficit at that club every year – it’s millions, it’s not hundreds of thousands – so disappointed for them, but I think Darragh will be the first to admit that the longer it was running, the more and more clubs were deciding not to play just based on costs and it was getting harder!”

“It’s difficult to take when, if you’re Peterborough, you probably think that you could have got automatic never mind the Play Offs, it’s difficult to take when you’re all sitting down watching the League Two Play Offs followed by the Championship playing followed by the League One Play Offs!”

One club benefiting from the end of the League One season are Rotherham United who have been promoted along with champions Coventry City – a club of course that the Gills boss knows very well, “Tony Stewart at Rotherham is a brilliant man,” he said.

“He really is a brilliant man, brilliant to me personally and his words have always been to me are that we were brilliant together! He deserves his team to be in the Championship as he put in £20 odd million for the new stadium and in turn used to bank roll it for two or three million each season and he deserves to take his club back to that level – the stadium befits the Championship – I’m really, really pleased for him!”

“At the same token, he might feel that he’s had a touch on the lottery as I’m not so sure that they would have finished second; they might have done – Paul Warne’s done a great job again.”

“Last summer, I had dinner with Tony and one of the things he said to me that he’d put a budget in place, and he expected Paul Warne to win promotion.”

“Well Paul Warne’s won him promotion and I’m well pleased for everyone there; I think there’s a phrase that once you’re a Miller, you’re always a Miller, and I had four years at that club – they’re wonderful people!”