"In Converstation With" were articles for the matchday programme in the 1998/99 season in which Dave Tavener interviewed various members of the team. Below is the interview with Justin Gentle.
Memories of Chesham United
Chesham United was the first non-league club I played for after being a professional. I felt that I did quite well there although we did actually go down. To be honest I did very well at Chesham, scored a few goals and it was from there that Enfield signed me.
I'd always supported Enfield as a boy so by doing well at Chesham I got the chance to sign for the E's.
I remember what a terrible feeling it was to go down with Chesham. We were relegated because Bishop's Stortford beat Aylesbury United on the last day of the season, if they hadn't then we would have stayed up. Apart from the chairman the whole set-up has changed since I played for Chesham, certainly all the players I knew have gone. It would be nice to do well against them.
Quality in wide positions
Last season when I was selected for the Isthmian League Rep side Lee Endersby was also in the squad. He is a skilful player but you don't seem to get too many really good left-sided wingers at this level, often you find right-footed players put on the left just to do a job rather than specialise in that position. But as I said Endersby is good and even our own Matt Jones can do a good job out there.
Brothers in arms
I am not quite sure how Dominic and I keep playing together at different clubs. We went to Cockfosters and Boreham Wood pretty much together but at Enfield and St. Albans he was signed after me and neither time did the move have anything to do with me. Garry Hill obviously knew him from their time at Heybridge Swifts and felt he would be good for us. They never asked me for an opinion about him but I do enjoy playing alongside my brother. As brothers there was always competition between the two of us. It was nice, healthy competition in that we always pushed each other on to do better, we always wanted each other to do well.
Provider and scorer
When I was with Enfield I averaged about one every three games but I admit that I haven't done so well with St. Albans. I like to score and look to get between 15 and 20 a season. I didn't fulfil that last year but obviously it is harder to score when the team isn't doing so well. When I was with Enfield and we were top of the league I seem to remember getting around 16 or 17. I suppose my role is mainly as a provider but it is better if everyone chips in with goals as the forwards are not going to score every week.
Down the years my position has got harder to play in, football is possibly becoming more defensive and you have to track-back from the wide positions nowadays. You don't seem to get the opportunities to get forward as much as in the past, so, yes it has become harder to play out wide. Where I really like to play is wide up front where you don't have to track-back so much. In the 4-4-2 system you have to work hard like everyone else has to, you have
to get back and defend!
It was flattering that Jimmy Neighbour liked me as he was a good winger in his day, but I wouldn't say that I was just admirer of wingers as I am a Paul Gascoigne fan and like other players like Alan Shearer. Not one person in particular has pushed me along, it is nice when someone takes an interest but really it comes from within yourself as to how much you want
to achieve it yourself. Looking back though, Wayne Turner at Luton gave me a lot of confidence.
Playing in Conference
It would be possible for me to play in the Conference, I work Saturday mornings at present but I think that it would be flexible and I would get away in time. If it come to it I would leave the job as football comes first for me at the moment. I would love to play in the Conference and really I just want to play as high as I can, you only get one chance to play football so
you've got to do it while you can.
I tend to struggle when the winter comes and the pitches cut up, I like them as they are at the moment. I think the pitches are actually getting pitches but yes the standard is getting better.
Not so Happy Hatter
I signed as a professional with Luton Town when I was playing for Boreham Wood at about the age of 20. But I first played senior football as a 16 year-old with Cockfosters. You hope to break through and you have the belief that you will make it but I don't think I really fulfilled my potential with Luton, I didn't do as well there as I know I can. When I was at Luton they had some good youngsters coming through like Ceri Hughes, John Hartson, Paul Telfer and Scott Houghton who actually played in my position in the first team. In fact it got to the stage where I wasn't even playing for the Reserves. It can be hard as a young player to see all
these good players ahead of you.
Maybe I was a bit young and didn't really now what it was all about. I played regularly for the Luton Reserves but only made the breakthrough when I joined Colchester United and played twice in the first team there. Roy McDonough was the manager at the time but he got sacked the day I was to sign a new contract. George Burley came in and he didn't offer me anything so I went to Chesham United. I would like to think that if I played to the best of my ability I could still do a job for a club in the lower Divisions of the Nationwide League.
In the beginning
Dominic was playing for Cockfosters and he said to come along to training. I did, then I played for the Reserves and the manager gave me a chance in the first team just as I was coming up to 17. I had a year at Cockfosters before joining Boreham Wood where I had another year before signing for Luton. I suppose I rose quite quickly, in less than two years I'd gone from Cockfosters to the brink of the Luton first team but then I went down again just as quickly.
It's good to talk
To be honest I would really like to curb my temper. Last year was the first time I had been suspended, I think that in the whole of my life before then I had only been booked about three times. It was disappointing to get booked seven times last season so I would like to change that but it was hard when we were getting beaten a lot last season and you really want to win, I did get a bit fiery and my temper did get the better of me but I would like to curb it.
I have not been too bad with injuries until I came to St. Albans. The problem is my ankle which is fine during the game but does on the tackling from behind is better for me as you now know that when the ball comes to you a defender is not going to clatter into the back of you.
Win win win
I won a couple of county cups with Luton and was runner-up in the league with Enfield. Since I’ve been at St Albans we have won the Herts Charity Cup but it would be nice to win the league or a bigger cup.