We are all fully committed to the cause, insists Patterson

Wednesday 20th September 2006

Mark Patterson, the assistant manager at Ryman Premier League side Folkestone Invicta, has given his first interview to www.folkestoneinvicta.co.uk about the Cheriton Road side’s poor start to the league campaign, which sees them at the foot of the table after seven games. 

But the former Gillingham star insists the club will improve their fortunes on the pitch, starting with their trip to Slough Town (at Stag Meadow, Windsor) on Saturday.

“I’m really enjoying myself here as they are a good bunch of lads to work with but I’m just disappointed with the way the results have gone so far this season.  We could’ve had a better start but we could also have had an easier start!” said Patterson. 

Invicta picked up a morale boosting win at the weekend in the FA Cup against Whyteleafe, the Seasiders first victory of the season and Patterson commented, “It was a decent result in what was a difficult situation away to Whyteleafe and it was never going to be easy but we have managed to come out at the end with the result to get us into the next round which was always important. 

”Ok it was not the best performance you’ll ever see but it doesn’t matter as we’re through and we’ve got a good home draw against Welling”.

The draw for the 2nd Qualifying Round in the Cup was on Monday afternoon, with Invicta paired against Nationwide Conference South side Welling United in a home tie at the Buzzlines Stadium on Saturday 30th September 2006. 

Patterson said: “We played them in pre season and we gave them a good game.  It wasn’t until the last four or five minutes that they scored but they’ve had a good run recently.

”Adrian Pennock is an ex team mate of Mark (Saunders) and mine and speaking to him recently he was saying the only consistent thing about them is their inconsistency! 

”But they are a good team and a division higher than us so it’s a good draw for us.  The home advantage perhaps gives us a bit of an edge but we will have to work very hard to progress.  It’s the kind of game we look forward to and we will give it as good as we possibly can”.

Patterson’s own football career started when he left school at 16 and went to Carlisle United.  At 19 he left Carlisle to join Derby County who were then in the old First Division, where he remained for five years. 

He then spent another five years on the south coast at Plymouth Argyle and finished his professional career at Gillingham, spending a total as 18 years as a professional player.

Patterson expressed the highlights of his playing career recalling, “I was fortunate enough to get to go to Wembley three times with Derby, Plymouth and Gillingham.  But just generally playing was wonderful, it was brilliant and the play off win that Gillingham had the second time around against Wigan, although I was injured with a broken leg and didn’t play, was a massive highlight.” 

He added: “Leaving and going to Derby when I was 19 and suddenly training and playing alongside Peter Shilton, Mark Wright, Dean Saunders and all these internationals was great and it opened my eyes and made me stand up.  The things I learnt there I tried to take on throughout my career.”

Before arriving at the Buzzlines Stadium, Patterson last played football for Maidstone United at the end of last year before manager Neil Cugley contacted him. 

He explained: “I got a call at probably around January time from Neil and he asked whether I’d be interested in getting back involved after Scott Lindsey had left.

”It was an ideal opportunity to get back involved in senior football and these opportunities don’t come around very often and this was a good one and that was it.  I thought great, I’d love to have another opportunity!” 

Asked if he had ambitions to progress into being a manager in the near future, Patterson responded: “Maybe in the distant future, I don’t know yet!  You are always learning, however long you have been in football and whatever level, you are always learning and there is always things to pick up. 

“I enjoy what I do now as it is good fun and you get to work with the team and the training side of things.  Neil does all the off the field business and lets Mark and myself get on with the training sessions and we enjoy that and I think the lads enjoy it too.  I think it’s good for everybody in that respect”.

Their latest training session was conducted by the other Mark (Saunders) with Patterson remarking: “The lads trained well, as they do all the time.  That’s the thing, ever since pre season and through the season, everyone has trained well and trained hard.  So there’s never been any questions about what they do in training.

”It’s just against some of the better teams like AFC we’ve struggled a little bit and it’s not because as I’ve heard some people say, we’re not fit enough, I don’t think that at all. 

“I think it’s because we are coming up against people that are almost full time in their setups and it is a massive difference.” 

The financial clout of the ‘bigger’ clubs such as AFC Wimbledon, Margate and Chelmsford have meant that such teams have been able to strengthen their squads with a number of quality players in the summer period. 

Despite not having the financial strength of other clubs, Invicta have managed to assemble a decent squad whilst maintaining financial security. 

Patterson said: “We have to make do with what we’ve got on the financial side of things but we’ll be alright as we have got some very good players at this club and players that could play at a higher standard of football than we are at now. 

”We have got to go out there and show it and they’ve got to out and prove they can do it.  Reputations count for nothing; if you’re a good player you’ve got to go out there and show to everybody you are a good player.”

Cugley’s search for new additions to strengthen the squad has at times been unsuccessful but not through lack of trying as Patterson explained.

“Well we had to change things around as you know as you can’t go on losing games 4-0 and 5-1, no matter who you are and what league you are in. 

“It can be very difficult bringing players in as there is a couple we were after, like Simon Osborn who was an old Gillingham team mate of Mark (Saunders) and mine who was going to come down and then Bromley came in and he went there as it was right on his door step. 

“That’s the things your up against; you think you’ve got some players and all of a sudden someone else comes in for them and you’ve just got to get on with it.  We’re not crying about it as it’s the same at every non league club as there’s always someone who has got that little bit more about them, that little bit more finance to be able to take players off you and that’s how it is.” 

Three players have signed for the Seasiders though; strikers Ellis Remy and James Corbett, and defender Samuel Kola Okikiolu.  Patterson has seen Corbett from his time at Gillingham and he stated, “Jimmy made his debut at Gillingham when I was there, when he was 17.  He was an outstanding player and then he went to Blackburn where things didn’t quite work out for him.  But if we can get him anywhere near to the player he was in the past, he will be a fantastic signing for this club.” 

On Kola and Remy, Patterson remarked: “It was the first time I saw Kola play Saturday and I thought he did a good job even if he got a bit caught for the goal.  But he is certainly a strong whole hearted defender.  You know Ellis has got goals in him and he just needs to get that next goal and you can see him going on a run and getting plenty.  He works the line well and gives a lot and we’re expecting big things from him too”.

Patterson also spoke about his thoughts on the negative rumours that have surfaced of late surrounding the squad.  He insisted: “I know people have been putting question marks and rumours about that this and that but I assure you, and I assure anybody that the whole changing room and the whole of the club is totally committed to the cause.

”No one wants to be in a team that is struggling and bottom of the league but it’s just totally ridiculous what some people are saying.  They are trying to cause trouble and are trying to find a reason or trying to point a finger at somebody or something.  At the end of the day you find it’s from people who don’t know anything about the club.  We are all fully committed to the cause and I’m sure we’ll pull through together”.

Article written by Andy Bown & Tom Marchant.

Visit Folkestone Invicta's website: www.folkestoneinvicta.co.uk