Departing Lewes interim manager Craig Gill says he leaves the club with pride after witnessing the passion and commitment from the players over the past seven months.
Gill joined the Rooks midway through the season with the aim of setting up best practices within the team and the staff, so that the club can flourish in the future.
Goals from Georgia Timms and goalkeeper Tatiana Saunders earned Lewes a memorable 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the final game of the season on Sunday, watched by a record 2,347 fans.
And Gill says he couldn’t be prouder of the team as he takes the next step of his coaching career in the United States.
‘We asked players to set their standards’
“It’s been a great seven months. Having coached women before at youth and senior level, but never managed a women’s club before, I’ve been so impressed by the application of the players, their ability and their physical prowess,” says Gill.
“Their will to win is remarkable. They’ve impressed me on a daily basis – and I’ve said that probably every week I’ve been here! Their attitude and application, their willingness to learn, it’s been one of the biggest things about my experience here.
“Of course, for someone who is not only a coach but a coach-educator, and a player developer, it’s been a great fit. From my experience working in academy football it’s not always about the result. It’s about the development of the players. Here, we’ve had to get the balance right between the player and the team, and also getting results as well. I told the players this in the week that we probably haven’t had the results that their performances have deserved.
“But my job coming in here was to try and professionalise the working practices, hone the tactical organisation model on a daily and weekly basis, raise standards.
“I did that by asking the players to set their standards and then enforce that with them on a daily basis, so that on a weekly basis we can take it into games.”
‘I like to play on the front foot’
Gill’s first full match in charge of the Rooks on the sidelines was the 2-0 win over Charlton back in October.
Goals from Paula Howells and Amelia Hazard earned Lewes three well-deserved points that day. And Gill says that set the standard from the off.
“To start off my managerial career like that was great,” he says. “Things that we’d worked on in training only for a few days came to fruition very early on.
“It was great to see that, and to beat a side as good as Charlton set us off on the right footing.
“The way I like to play is on the front foot, and play with a positive attitude. I want to take the game to the opposition. It doesn’t matter who it is – top or bottom of the league, or a team in mid-table – we impose ourselves on other teams and don’t allow the opponent to impose on us.
“That’s what our players did from day one. We have brought in a good pressing system. We don’t just go to press for the sake of it, we press as high as we possibly can so that we’re on the front foot 20 yards from goal when we win the ball.”
Next up for Gill is a move to the United States to take up a technical director role at a youth soccer club. Discussing his next steps, the Welshman says: “I’m humbled. If that comes to fruition I should start with them in July. Hopefully the visa process goes through smoothly and we can be out there by the summer.
“I’ve coached and played with the RAF National Team out there. We’ve done tours to Washington before, and played against their teams. That was a great experience.
“I’m a big believer of taking opportunities when they arise – hence my time here, and my previous role in Morocco. Being a military man you get used to moving every three years or so anyway, so it’s in my blood to do this.
“And I of course want to give experiences like this to the family as well. So it’s a great way to combine life with football, a great role with a great club and great people, who are very similar to Lewes Football Club.”
Everyone at Lewes Football Club would like to thank Craig for his commitment and hard work over the past seven months. We wish him all the best in the future, and he is of course always welcome at the Dripping Pan!