It's good of Gillingham to send a side to their local club, says Hollands & Blair boss Paul Piggott

Tuesday 17th July 2012
HOLLANDS & BLAIR boss Paul Piggott has praised their League Two neighbours Gillingham for sending down their development side to Star Meadow for a friendly on Wednesday evening.

Hollands & Blair finished in third place in the inaugural Kent Invicta League last season and defeated Kent League side Sevenoaks Town to win the Kent Senior Trophy for the very first time in the club’s history.

Their reward is a visit from Gillingham, whose development squad also play in the three-team Chatham Town 130th anniversary tournament on Sunday (playing Chatham Town and the Royal Engineers at Maidstone Road), before playing Woodstock (26 July), Whitstable Town (2 August), Ramsgate (9 August) and Bromley (11 August).

“It’s good of Gillingham to send a side down,” said Piggott.

“We know Bryan Bull at Gillingham. It was good for him to send a side down to us.  We know him, he’s an old friend of the club and he’s at Gilingham now.

“We’re looking forward to it because they’re a fit, young side, who will work us hard in the game, which is what we’re after.

“Gillingham have got a new manager (Martin Allen) now and it will be a chance for the youngsters of the club to prove themselves to their new manager, against us.”

When asked how he is treating the game against their more illustrious neighbours, Piggott said: “It’s not important because friendlies are friendlies to us.  There’s a purpose behind it and that’s to get our players’ fit.

“It would be nice to get a few people (to our ground) seeing the players we’ve got and the players Gillingham’s youngsters have got.

“I think it’s good of Gillingham to send a side to one of their local clubs, really we’re on their doorstep, and we’re pleased to have them.  It’s good for local non-league football.

“We’ve got six friendlies so the squad of about 18-19 players that we’ve got together will share those minutes.   They’ll get the same number of chances to prove their worth to me over those six games.

“That’s what we do in pre-season, so that you’re ready and fit and raring to go for the first game.

“To be honest with you, since I’ve been at the club we haven’t been good starters in the league. We’ve not hit the ground running in the three seasons I’ve been at the club so it’s important we do this year because I think it’s going to be a strong, tough league again.”

After Gillingham, Blair travel to Sheerness East (21 July), and Rochester United (24 July), before welcoming Erith Town to Star Meadow on 28 July.  They then travel to Cray Valley (Paper Mills) on 31 July, before playing away to Ryman League Division One side Faversham Town on 4 August.

When asked what his aspirations are for the new season, Piggott replied, “We want to win it.  We won’t lie about it.  That’s why we’re in the league.  We’re not in there to make the numbers up.

“We want to be competing against the big boys in the league and competing towards the end.”

When asked about the ground improvements to get the ground up to scratch for a higher-level of football, Piggott said: Unfortunately it’s gone a little bit stale at the moment. The football grants, the stadium grants that were allegedly meant to go out and help the clubs at our level aren’t helping clubs at our level at the moment.

“The work at our ground has come to a bit of a standstill at the moment, which is a little disappointing. We still need to get our changing rooms built and a stand built.

“But there are wheels in motion from what I understand.  There’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be done with these things so I’ve left it for the club to sort out.   I try not to get involved.”

Meanwhile, Kennington, who play in the Haart of Kent County League Division One – two divisions below Hollands & Blair - have announced that they will be playing at the Julie Rose Athletics Stadium in Ashford this season.

Playing at the 806-seater, floodlit stadium, which is situated on Kennington Road, Willsborough,  and is the venue for Ashford Athletics Club, will certainly help the club progress.

Peter Stanton, Kennington’s fixture secretary, said: “It’s great to see the club continuing to move forward and securing the Julie Rose is a major achievement which will surely help attract and retain the better players.”

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Hollands & Blair  v   Gillingham
Pre-Season Friendly
Wednesday 18th July 2012
Kick Off 7:00pm
at Star Meadow Sports Club, Darland Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 3AN