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Interviews

First, Best, Worst: Paul Gibbs

From signing limbs to ransacking rooms, BEES spoke to former full-back Paul Gibbs about his first, best and worst moments in professional football

4 April 2018

Paul Gibbs initially made his name in Non-League football, winning the FA Vase with Diss Town in 1994.

His good form with The Tangerines saw him snapped up by Colchester United. He would go on to enjoy spells at Torquay United and Plymouth Argyle before signing for Brentford in May 2000.

A regular starter during his two seasons at Griffin Park, Paul helped the Club to the Football League Trophy Final and the Second Division Play-Off Final in successive seasons. Having made more than 50 appearances in red and white, he moved on to Barnsley in 2002, before eventually hanging up his boots in 2005.

 

FIRST…

Time you signed an autograph

It would have been when I was playing Non-League football for Diss Town. We were losing in the FA Vase Final at Wembley in 1994 and I scored an equaliser from the penalty spot, nine minutes into injury time! We went on to win and, after the full-time whistle, loads of people ran on to the pitch asking me to sign t-shirts, arms and all sorts of things! It was pretty incredible!

 

Game for Brentford

I settled in really well over the first few matches and was really enjoying it, but sadly I was slowed up by a few early injuries. I should have arrived at Griffin Park a year before I actually did, but I broke my leg and couldn’t make the transfer. When my first home game finally came, it was against Queens Park Rangers. I came on about 15 minutes in and started really well, but then I went into a challenge with the goalkeeper and he gave me a dead leg. I could hardly walk -  I was only on for about 20 minutes before I had to hobble off! Two or three games later, I unfortunately fractured my right leg.

 

Room-mate

My first roomie was Scott Partridge, but then I moved around a bit and ended up with Andy Scott as well. We all liked a game of cards, so my room invariably ended up being where myself, Scott, Andy and Gavin Mahon would convene. We were always sure to be very quiet as we were up till 12 o’clock some Friday nights. Ray Lewington didn’t know too much about that, thank God!

 

BEST…

Thing about playing for Brentford

I could be really corny here! But it was just being able to play in such a technically strong side. A lot of that squad went on to play in the Premier League, including Gavin Mahon, Stephen Hunt, Ivar Ingimarsson, Steve Sidwell, Darren Powell, Martin Rowlands and Ben Burgess – we had such an amazing team. We also had brilliant coaches in Ray Lewington and then Steve Coppell and Wally Downes. Wally was a brilliant tactician, but Steve was one of the best man-managers I have ever worked with.

 

Player you came up against

It would have to be Shaun Wright-Phillips. I had just signed for Barnsley in the Championship and we were live on Sky, playing Manchester City, who were top of the league at the time and cruising. I had him nailed down for 75 minutes and the score was 1-1. However, in the last ten minutes, he skinned me and they came out 4-1 winners, with all three goals coming from my side! He was set apart by his pure pace. It was always a dilemma of whether to get tight to him, or let him have the ball and run at me. It was a constant mind game, and he was always on the move too, which made him impossible to mark. That was probably one of the toughest games I played in.

 

Prank you saw played on a Brentford team-mate

The best would have been one that Scott Partridge and I played on Andy Woodman. I nicked his key card and then we both went and ransacked his room so you couldn’t even recognise it! His bed was in the bath and everything was flipped upside down! He was fuming and wanted to know who it was, but, to this day, nobody knows who did it! I guess I’ve finally just admitted to it! It was probably a good job that he didn’t find out at the time because I think he’d have beaten me up!

 

WORST… 

Moment as a Brentford player

The toughest time was trying to come back from injury in a struggling team. After starting well and breaking my leg, I returned just as Ron Noades was cutting the budgets a little and letting players, like Gavin Mahon, go. We weren’t performing well and some of the lads weren’t giving it their all, which meant that the fans weren’t happy. It was probably the most difficult period I had at Brentford, but we fought through it and managed to come good.

 

Telling off from a manager

I have seen some managers absolutely rip into other players. On one occasion, I was sitting next to Mark McCammon when Ray Lewington blew his top, which was quite frightening! With regards to myself, I’ve not really had that many. It wasn’t horrific, but Steve Parkin had a bit of a go when Wright-Phillips pulled my pants down, asking what on earth I’d been doing. But I just held my hands up and said I’d tried everything, but I couldn’t even see him, let alone catch him! I always gave everything, and when you do that, managers are more likely to give you a stern word of advice rather than a telling off.

 

Tackle you’ve been on the end of

It would have been when I broke my leg for Plymouth Argyle against Carlisle United. I got given the ball and went to whip it up the line, but, as I followed through, one of their players straight-legged me. My fibula shattered and my tibia was broken in four places. It was the last game of the season when their goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scored deep into injury-time to keep them in the Football League. The only reason they added so time much on was because they were trying to pull my leg off the pitch! It was meant to be my last game for Argyle before I joined Brentford, but it set me back a season.

 

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