Thursday 08th December 2005

"Flash" Gordon shows his caring side after phenomenal times


Retired striker Pat Gordon is caring for the local community whilst he cuts his coaching teeth in the first division of the British Energy Kent County League with Bromley based outfit Old Bromleians, writes Stephen McCartney.

The former Charlton Athletic, Millwall, Leyton-Wingate and Bromley slender striker admitted his best moment during his playing career was scoring against Arsenal goalkeeping Legend Pat Jennings during a reserve team game for the Addicks at London Colney.

And Gordon, now 40, married with two daughters and living in Petts Wood, Kent, gave an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk following Cray Wanderers' 2-0 win over Ashford Town on Tuesday night about his career and his plans for the future.

His friendship with Cray Wanderers' manager Ian Jenkins, goes back a very long time, as the two worked together as lift engineers.

And Gordon, an avid Arsenal supporter, explained what semi-professional footballers have to go through in an attempt to live their dream of becoming a professional.  But sadly most don't make it and have to earn a living and play non-league football.

"I have to say when you're playing non-league you put your career or job on the back burner," he said.

"You are playing football two days a week and training on a Thursday.   You've got to be at a game at half past six midweek and not everybody does a nine-to-five (job).

"Luckily for me I was working with Ian Jenkins as lift engineers and we could leave work at half-four so that made the job more appealing to get to the games at half-past-six."

So what does a footballer do when he hangs up his boots?

"When I stopped playing for Bromley I thought I've got to sort out my career," he said.  "I went to Lewisham College studying social work.  I got a job working in a unit with young people.  Some had anger management problems and (some) were put into care.

"I got three years experience and that enabled me to go to North London University, studying social work, and now I'm a qualified social worker."

But Gordon is starting at one of the lowest rungs of the football ladder at Old Bromleians - although one of his players from last season - Mark Banks is playing Ryman League football with Ashford Town.

"At the moment I'm halfway thought my Level 2 FA Coaching badge," he said.  "I'm also assistant manager at Old Bromleians and we're having a really good season.  We are in three cups and we've got some good young players and one of them from last season, Mark Banks plays for Ashford Town and I encourage players to go further.

"I'm just looking to pick up young players push them into a better standard of football.  That's the main buzz of being a coach and being an ex-player - developing new talent."

Gordon, however, compared the standard of the Ryman League from when he was terrorising defenders for the Hayes Lane club back in the 90's.

"The game hasn't really changed," he said.  "But I personally think when I was playing the standard was higher.

"I think the players had better touch, more experience but that's just my opinion."

"The money's increased but everything changes with time.  Everything in the game has increased, like what the Premiership players earn now.

"But all footballers will tell you we don't come for the money but for the love of the game.  Money is an incentive but once you get your boots on you're not interested in the money you just want to score and play well."

A proud Gordon, who was described as "Flash Gordon" during his time at Hayes Lane, reflected on his proud career to date.

And how many people can claim to scoring against Arsenal goalkeeping Legend Pat Jennings?

Gordon started his career as an apprentice at Charlton Athletic  before being released and joining their South London rivals Millwall, under the managerial team of a certain Mr George Graham and Theo Foley.

"I was coached by a guy called Roger Cross," recalled Gordon.  "For me he was the best coach I've ever had.

"He taught me the game of football and really opened my mind about the game.   And that was one of my enjoyable times.  I felt as a player I learnt the game and it improved my whole game.

"But the highlight of my career was whilst I was at Charlton, when I scored against Pat Jennings!

"For me Pat Jennings was a Legend,  Also I scored two goals for Millwall against Orient in the Freight Rover Trophy and that was fantastic.

"But playing against Pat Jennings - I adored playing against him - was phenomenal.

"He was coming back from injury but in the reserve league I was playing against Tony Adams, David Rocastle, Martin Keown, Martin Hayes - they were great times!"

But Gordon made the "biggest mistake of his life" when he left Millwall after they declined to offer him a contract, which then saw him drift into non-league football and when he first met current Bromley manager, George Wakeling, managing East Londoners Leyton-Wingate at the time.

"I made the biggest mistake of my life at Millwall when I wasn't offered a contract," he admitted.  "They wanted me to come back pre-season but I wanted a contract and being young and naive and not experienced, I left.

"I dropped out of football and then George Wakeling rang me up and said he saw me playing for Millwall did I want to come down to Leyton-Wingate?

"Ideally I didn't want to get back into football but George is a really persuasive guy.

"I went and had a good chat with him.  It was a fantastic club, the best non-league club I've ever been at.

"There was a great club atmosphere.  It was all about the club, your team-mates.  No player rushed off after the game.  The togetherness was phenomenal - reserve and first team players.

"And that was the reason why I came to Bromley, and that's a fantastic club as well.

"I have to say I had a great time there.  The fans were fantastic, absolutely phenomenal and I really enjoyed my football here.

"I'm still friends with five or six of the Leyton-Wingate players now, who I speak regularly to, twenty years on."

Redbridge v Bromley
Ryman Premier League
Saturday 10th December 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm