Gills sack Pennock: I’ll kill the rumours early

Gillingham have parted company with boss Adrian Pennock today, and given the proximity to Danny’s home and their League One status I think it is inevitable that our management duo will be linked with the job. In truth, I’ve already had four messages from fans and other writers posing the question. If the Gills come in, will they go? Just to be 100% clear before too much speculation starts, I’m as sure as I can be that there is no way at all they’d leave Lincoln City at this moment in time.

Firstly, why would they? Despite rocky recent form (rocky, not poor) they’ve got everything a manager needs here. The board have loosened the purse strings and Danny is not pushing for more. They’re getting their own squad in place too, players they’ve worked with throughout their fledgling careers. Harry Anderson signed a three-year deal to join Lincoln City, and there is no way they’ll leave one of their boys stuck for three years at a club they abandoned at the first sign of a move home. They’ve quadrupled crowds since their arrival, reinvigorated a whole city and created the foundations of a successful and financial sustainable football club.

The training ground is progressing too, there’s nothing official been put out but as I understand it an area of land has now been identified and the final stages are being approached with regards to making an announcement. There was a newspaper interview with Danny a week or two ago that stated we had already started work on an 11-acre site. I’m not sure work has started, but I am led to believe room for a couple of pitches and a building or three might be available. That is the real deal-breaker, Danny and Nicky stipulated ahead of signing a new deal that they wanted a chance to get more minutes into players. When you go to Sincil Bank at 2pm on a raining Tuesday and see Sean Raggett on the training pitch still heading the ball into a goal, long after he could have been at home in front of cartoon or something, that tells you the desire of our players to succeed. The facility is of utmost importance and it will be here sooner rather than later.

Also, they have a record of turning down jobs or approaches for their services, or at least the club do. Notts County came in for them before they bagged Nolan and we rebuked them. Links with Grimsby were laughingly mentioned, so much so Danny had to put out a video convincing us all he wasn’t going. I think he got more tired of answering questions about that than he did about Sean Raggett! I also understand another team made a much quieter approach for them earlier this year, and I’m talking a team much bigger than Grimsby or Notts County, but again it did not interest them. Finally, they proved they weren’t in it for the money by turning down (how shall we say?) ‘ambitious’ Billericay Town when they came with a £10k a week offer for the pair.

They proved they weren’t in it for the money by turning down (how shall we say?) ‘ambitious’ Billericay Town when they came with a £10k a week offer for the pair. 

I’ve spoken to Danny on many occasions now, and I’ve listened to fans forums, press conferences and the offhand conversations we’ve had at different events too. Both him and Nicky are cut from different cloth to your typical track suit in the dug out. They’re no less motivated, no less driven and no less talented than the next manager, far from it. When they humbly announce the likes of Mick McCarthy have forgotten more than they know, they’re being respectful but doing themselves a disservice. Sure, Mick played at a higher level and he’s managed big players, but it doesn’t mean they’re so far inferior. What they know is struggle and desire, they know and understand people and personalities. Danny spent his younger years desperate to become a professional footballer but fell short of the grade, and he carries that like a burden. Mick McCarthy made it in the game, he feels it is knowledge and experience he passes on, but Danny and Nicky want to ensure their players succeed where they could not, and similarly that they succeed now where they could not in their mid-twenties. Let’s also realise that playing the standard they did is not ‘failure’ as such, but if you’re driven as they are I suppose they just wanted more.

What always strikes me about the pair is their vision of success and how to achieve it. At some point in every press conference, every fans forum and every conversation they’re discussing hard work. The Cowley Method holds no short cuts, no cheats or passes to a higher level. It is all about working hard and earning your stripes, becoming a Football League manager not by getting a decent FA Cup run together and being poached, but by winning the National League. They’ll want to be League One managers by winning League Two as well, and only when they feel that they can’t take Lincoln City any further will they look elsewhere. I genuinely believe that too, I believe if we tumbled to 19th or 20th and battled at the bottom for a bit, they wouldn’t jump the ship to another opportunity. They’d see themselves as responsible for the drop, they’d want to correct it, as long as they still had the unwavering support of Bob and the board.

Many reading this will think it all sounds very twee, a bit too ‘Roy of the Rovers’ for real life. I thought it was too. Last season when Notts County came in for them I was utterly convinced they’d make the step up. County are (I’m afraid) a bigger club than us, even more of a sleeping giant than we are, and yet they stayed put and now we have bigger attendances than County, Coventry, Swindon and half of League One. They’ve done that, by managing the club correctly and bringing the right players into the side. Until we’ve gone as far as we can, they’ll go nowhere at all. Even if Gillingham come knocking, or Oldham in the wake of John Sheridan’s sacking.

I won’t say where it is, but I think there is only one team outside the top-flight that could convince them to move right now, maybe (at a push) two. You may find that hard to believe, others may find it a lack of ambition but it is exactly the opposite. They don’t want to be a small chapter in the life of Lincoln City, they want to be the uplifting four chapters that resurrects a dying football club and turns it into a Football League heavyweight. They want to be remembered for a lifetime or more for what they achieved here, just as they are at Concord Rangers. They know you don’t get that by club-hopping on a regular basis, and as long as Bob and the board continue to support their reasonable and calculated requests then we’re all on this ride for the long haul.

Sorry Gillingham, you’ll have to look elsewhere. I hear Kevin Nolan is doing a decent job at Notts County….

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  1. Absolutely not going ANYWHERE YET!
    Have already stated they are learning there trade and not ready for the championship yet(Gillingham aint champhionship i know)

  2. Ipswich or Norwich next port of call as and when .
    In a few years yet , get the new training ground and new stadium they may never want to leave.

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