Why Leon Legge has to stay

As the 2014-15 season draws to a close, there is lots of talk among supporters of pretty much every single club about various players.

Everyone will have an opinion about those who should be kept on and those who should be shipped out.

At Gillingham Football Club things are no different, as those out of contract look to impress the gaffer in the remaining few games.

One such player at the MEMS Priestfield who seems to be causing more debate than most is Leon Legge.

For us here at RainhamEndViews the decision regarding whether he stays or not is a complete no brainer.

He simply has to be retained.

Come the end of the season the Gills could invariably only have four central defenders on the books.

Leon and John Egan – along with QPR loanee Max Ehmer – have both had regular first team action this term, but Callum Davies is returning from long term injury and Mitchell Dickenson has only just signed his first pro contract.

Granted Justin Edinburgh may, and surely will, look to add to his defensive options.

But what benefit would there be in offloading a player who is approaching 100 games for the club, and helped secure a league title just two years ago?

The big centre half originally arrived on loan for the second half of the League Two winning campaign.

In the 22 matches in which he featured from January until the end of that season the boys in blue won ten (45%) and lost only four (18%).

Big Leon played a big part in securing the 2012-13 League Two title.

They kept clean sheets in eight (36%) of those games, and along the way he netted twice.

The first was the crucial opener in a 2-1 win over Dagenham & Redbridge, and the second an equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw at Aldershot.

But that’s only League Two some have said.

Well in his first season with the club in League One he was by no means a disaster.

After the Gills’ awful start, that ultimately saw Martin Allen lose his job, Legge helped the club to twelve wins (30%) from 40 appearances.

Yes, his loss ratio was 50%, but you have to bear in mind this was a side in their first season back in the third tier.

Clean sheets were harder to come by too – just six at a rate of 15% – but again he netted twice.

One against Crawley in a 2-3 defeat – the Gills’ only reverse in games that he has scored – and the second a crucial opener in a 2-0 win over Swindon.

Legge’s opener secured a vital 2-0 victory over Swindon in the 2013-14 campaign. 

But he had ultimately done his job, as the club secured their League One status with games to spare.

So onto this season, where he has – to date – made 27 appearances.

Again his win ratio is 30%, with eight victories, but his loss ratio has dropped ten per cent to 40%.

A sign that perhaps he, and the club, have now come to terms with the rigours of football at this level.

Learning that when not able to win games you have to find ways to not lose them.

He has helped his team to four shut outs, again at 15%, but that is by no means awful when you consider that the club as a whole have only secured ten from 52 games at 19%.

In terms of goals scored, this is his most productive since joining the club.

So far he has four to his name, and they have lead to five points from a possible nine.

‘Leggy’ nets his dramatic late leveller at Preston.

In fact, from all games in which he has netted in his time at the club, the Gills have accumulated 12 points from a possible 21.

One other thing with ‘Leggy’ is that he very rarely misses matches due to injury or suspension.

In 89 games since he joined he has only been dismissed once and cautioned on 12 occasions.

On average that’s a booking every 7.5 games, meaning only six cautions over a 46 game campaign.

That would mean only a one game ban.

In the higher echelons of the game you get elegant, ball playing central defenders, but it’s slightly different in League One.

They are a slightly different breed.

Leon Legge may not be the best defender to grace this game, and he is humble and honest enough to admit that. 

But he is at the right age for a defender, is a terrific hard working professional, a very able centre back and a big presence on and off the pitch.

I am not for one minute saying he should automatically be first choice, and he is smart enough to know that too.

For that you need to get your head down and work hard, and this season he has had to bide his time since the turn of the year.

One thing is for certain with Leon though; he will never be found wanting for endeavour or effort.

And that, mixed with ability – which he has – can take you a long way in football.

UP THE GILLS!

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