Back in Action – Jerry Gill Q & A

Following on from yesterday’s interview with club captain and goalkeeper Ryan Clarke, Bath City Radio’s Mark Stillman also spoke to manager Jerry Gill ahead of Sunday’s play-off clash with Dorking Wanderers.

MS: Has it felt more like ‘getting back to normal’ in the last few weeks?

JGl: Yes, pretty much. The main difference is we have Twerton as our training base now which has been very good because we play our game here too. Everyone has reported back looking really fit – the loan players especially as they’ve been training at their clubs – and we have a fully fit squad, which is an important thing and they’re chomping at the bit. By not playing for four months it has made them appreciate what they’ve got. We’ve been challenging them quite hard with a lot of conditioning work, it’ll probably accumulate to nine or ten sessions before the Dorking game.

I’m in the office more again. I was working from home doing a lot of the preparation, even when on furlough I was preparing as if we were going to come back. Being back in the office I’ve got the tactics board up and sitting in with staff for a couple of hours to plan each training session.

Is there more pressure on City to win than last year’s eliminator with Wealdstone?

I’ve seen the odds (Dorking are 16/1 to win promotion) but I don’t think anyone knows how it’ll all play out. Marc (White, Dorking manager) has been quite bullish in his interviews, he’s very respectful towards us but is confident about his group like I am with mine. I will never say we have a divine right to win a game because you have to earn it, it’s as simple as that.

Have you learned any lessons from last year?

Yes. We felt on reflection that they beat us up a bit, they were better than us physically. Our sessions this time have a competitive edge to them. We had a competitive friendly last week. We know we have some very good footballers but after Covid no-one knows how anyone will turn up after such a long lay-off. We’ve looked good in training, that’s all I can say. Hopefully they implement that into the game plan.

Dorking ended the season with five straight defeats but does past form matter? When we beat them at home you said they were as strong as teams like Havant…

They probably experienced the worst form out of every team in the league but I’m sure they’ll look at this now as a fresh start. We have confidence having finished in a high place for the play-offs.

It was a well-earned three points against them here in the league. Marc has recruited very well, he has a good blend of experience and bright young players. They play football the right way. We have ideas on how we can break them down in certain areas and I’m sure they’re looking at us the same way. They’re a dangerous side and get some good crosses into the box.

Are there any positives to playing behind closed doors?

Some have said you lose home advantage but I disagree with that. We have a big pitch and we’re used to it (and the slope!) having trained on it for three weeks. Dorking play on 3G but I’m sure they would have trained on grass to prepare for this.

Thankfully with the crowd fundraiser we have head and shoulders of fans around the ground which will look great. I’ve worked hard with people behind the scenes to make sure it looks better than it does for training.

You mentioned the fundraiser – you must be blown away by the response?

I’m overwhelmed. Our fans have been terrific throughout it, as have fans from further afield in countries like America and Australia. The Birmingham City fans’ disabled society pledging £500 is phenomenal, I’ve thanked them personally for it. It’s been incredible and shows what people think of Bath City Football Club and what we can achieve.

It was important we put packages alongside the donations to give something back. We have the NHS badge on our shirts because we feel they should be recognised for the tremendous job they’re doing. It is also on all the banners and flags.

Your dad is a regular at home and away matches, presume he will be joining the masses by streaming it?

He’d love to be here but he’ll have it on the big tv with a couple of others, socially distanced of course(!), and decorate the room in our colours.

I speak to him every day and he’s missed football as much as I have.

How have you found the lockdown experience?

In a perverse way it has helped – my staff look a lot fitter! I’ve used the time wisely and so have the players, their fitness test results were great. It was nice for a bit to recharge the batteries especially for people like Jim (Rollo) who would work 6am-6pm then come to training after a couple of days a week.

The time off has allowed me to reflect on where I am in my coaching and managerial career. I’ve caught up on my CPD and licensing work and have done a lot of learning. I watched the German football and all the EFL play-offs because I think the League One and Two games are more relative than the Premier League. I’ve spoken to some managers and taken advice from Paul Trollope, who I’ll probably speak to nearer the game. It’s been good having a connection with other football people again.

Managed to keep on top of the tidying?

My place is immaculate! All the rubbish has gone, the lawn has never looked so good, though not as good as the surface at Twerton Park of course. We can’t wait to play on that next week.