RainhamEndViews this week had the pleasure of chatting to ex Gills midfielder and skipper Michael Flynn about his time in Kent as well as his career in general.
Coming across as very genuine, down to earth, selfless and hard working, he talks candidly about his home town club, just missing out on the Premier League, relegation heartbreak, his favourite goal and how his career has gone full circle.
We hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as we enjoyed conducting it…..
REV: You started your career with your home town club in the late 1990’s. How much of a thrill was it to play for Newport County, the town of your birth?
Michael: I have always just loved playing football. Wherever I have been it has always been about playing over anything else, but to pull on the shirt of the club I love will always be very, very special.
REV: Were you given a fair crack of the whip at Wigan, and how disappointing was it to leave just a few months before they were promoted to the Premier League?
Wigan’s loss, Gills’ gain.
Michael: I perhaps wasn’t always given the chances I felt I deserved, but on the flip side I knew I had to be at the top of my game every single day, such was the quality of the squad. I could have stayed but I desperately wanted to play,and moving to Gillingham just felt right.
REV: Obviously the fact that you were deemed surplus to requirements at Wigan meant you were able to join the Gills, how did the move come about?
Michael: It actually came about really quickly. Stan Ternant at Gillingham had a good relationship with my Wigan gaffer Paul Jewell, so that helped speed the process along, and although Gills were struggling it was a no brainer. I wanted to play football.
REV: You scored twice in your first six games for us after arriving. How good was it to settle in and get off the mark so quickly?
Michael: It certainly helped, because it gave me an immediate connection with the fans, who are a passionate bunch. Unfortunately we didn’t quite do enough to stay up, relegated in the final few minutes of the final day.
REV: From the end of February to the middle of April at the end of the 2004-05 campaign, you helped the club pick up four wins in a nine game unbeaten run. At that point did you think we were good enough to stay in the Championship?
Michael: Without doubt, I genuinely felt we had enough quality to beat the drop. There were some very good players in the squad – Matty Jarvis, Darius Henderson, Paul Smith, Nicky Southall and Andrew Crofts.
REV: After losing only one of the final twelve games, how heartbreaking was it to be so cruelly relegated on the final day?
Michael: Of course it was heartbreaking at the time, no professional likes to be relegated. However, I have never been one to dwell on things, which made it more disappointing that we couldn’t keep more of the squad together for the following campaign.
REV: Was that relegation one of your worst days in football?
Michael: Without doubt, it is a horrible feeling, one of total emptiness. I felt so sorry for everyone connected to the club; players, staff, and the fans. It made it harder because Gillingham has such a family feel to it.
REV: And on the flip side, what has been your greatest moment throughout your career?
Michael: Without doubt it was getting Newport promoted at Wembley. I have only ever twice cried because of football, and that day was one of them. I was proud to make my professional debut and to sign for Wigan because it meant my hard work was paying off, but winning at Wembley tops everything.
REV: Back to your time in Kent, how much of an honour was it to be made skipper for the 2006-07 season, and didn’t you end that campaign as top scorer?
Leading from the front, skippering the Gills.
Michael: I was immensely proud to skipper Gillingham, because it is such a good club. I was top scorer yes, but I should have had a few more, because I missed a penalty and hit the bar and post quite a lot. I would have happily traded every single goal for the team being more successful though. The team is always bigger than Michael Flynn.
REV: Talking of goals, you have scored a few screamers in your time. Which one would you rate as your best?
Michael: Haha (Michael is grinning from ear to ear while answering), I netted a few good ones for the Gills, away at Bristol City, Bradford and QPR, but my favourite all time strike was for Newport at Wycombe. Adam Chapman played me in beautifully, and without wanting to sound big headed, it was a finish worthy of the Premier League. I always laugh recalling that one.
Michael’s favourite career goal.
REV: At the end of the 2006-07 season you decided against signing a new contract and moved on to Blackpool. Could you tell that the Gills were struggling, as they were relegated to the fourth tier the following campaign?
Michael: Plain and simple it was the chance to get back into the Championship, nothing else. I loved Gills, and I was offered more money to go elsewhere, but Blackpool were giving me the chance to play at a higher level again. The cash wasn’t the be all and end all.
REV: In 2012 you returned to your first club Newport. Was that planned or a bolt out of the blue?
Wembley Glory – Going home in 2012 proved to be a pretty good decision.
Michael: They had been after me for a few years, but for one reason or another it was not the right time. I was captain of Bradford, but then my illness lead me to leave, so I had a chat with Justin Edinburgh and this time it felt right. Again, I had offers of more money from league clubs, but I wanted to come home. Looking back, I don’t think I made a bad choice as we went up via the Play-Offs at Wembley.
REV: Finally, are you looking to carry on playing, or are you concentrating on the coaching side of things at Newport?
Michael: I don’t know what the future holds, but I am confident that I still have something to offer in a playing capacity, but in the long term coaching and management is what I want to do.
REV: Excellent, thanks for taking the time to chat, it has been a pleasure.
Michael: No problem.
You can follow Michael on Twitter @flynnster17.
UP THE GILLS!!