Thursday 01st September 2005

The Real Deal - Wembley Manuscript
by Tommy Sampson

Chapter 5

The one down-side to our progress was the loss of Phil Miles.  Phil had played for me at Herne Bay and had followed me to Deal the previous year.

In boosting the squad I had made competition for places red hot and in Phil’s preferred position of central defender there were five players competing for three places.  One of them, Jason Ash, had injured himself in August and was out for at least five months.

Phil had played his part in our dramatic comeback at Eastleigh in Round One after coming on as a substitute at half time.   I had already had talks with Phil about his future and had tried to re-reasure him that I did not have any pre-conceived ideas about who would play.  I just said I would pick who I thought fit for each particular game.

Things came to a head against East Preston when, having played the previous week against Cray Wanderers in the League Cup, Phil was left on the bench. 

I knew before the game that this would provoke a reaction from Phil and that is exactly what I got when, after we had scored our third goal six minutes from time I asked Phil to get stripped.  From his negative reaction I realised that he had made his mind up to leave and I told him to sit down. 

The players closest to Phil all tried desperately to talk him round but to no avail.   I spoke to Phil before he left the ground that night and reluctantly gave him my permission to do what he thought best regarding his future.  

I knew Steve Hearn, the Chatham Town manager, had been interested in Phil’s situation for several weeks and phoned him to say that the player was available. 

I next saw Phil the following day at Chatham’s F.A. Vase game with B.A.T. Sports.

I made one last attempt to change his mind in the bar after Chatham had been defeated but his mind was made up. I had known Phil for about seven years and he had always played a major part in my successes.  I regret losing him,  not only for his playing abilities but as a good friend. 

I had always relied heavily on loyalty and had built my dressing room around that trait.  Phil’s departure was a consequence of trying to ensure winning the league as well as having a crack at all the other domestic competitions.