In this second instalment, Giles Coke talks about his move to Northampton Town this summer.
Hi and welcome back to my Coke Column!
I had two seasons at Mansfield Town but believed it was time to move on at the end of last season. I became a proud father to a little girl at the start of the year and felt that I needed to move closer to my family. Although, I am appreciative to Mansfield for giving me my start in professional football, I also wanted to play at a higher level.
Mansfield offered me new terms at the end of the season which I turned down and I then left it to my agent at Touchline Soccer to use his contacts to find me a new club. Although I had suffered a knee cartilage injury in January, my agent told me that there was still a good amount of interested clubs; it was nice to feel wanted!
I sat down with my agent and family to discuss my future and talked about the clubs that had shown an interest in me. There were about half a dozen clubs who had shown a firm interest in me, but to be honest when I found out about Northampton’s interest in signing me, it was quite a straightforward decision. I was impressed with the way Northampton had performed after Stuart Gray took over last season, and I had heard really positive things about him as a manager and how the team played. Talking to him for the first time, he also seemed to know me well as a player and he made me want to be part of his plans at Northampton.
The morning I was due to sign at Northampton didn’t start too well! I had flown in from a family holiday in the early hours. My flight was delayed and then the car broke down, meaning I had barely got to sleep by the time I had to leave for Northampton in my girlfriend’s car! I was due to meet the Manager, Chairman and my agent at the stadium but I should have known after my already problematic day, I would inevitably get stuck in the rush hour traffic and roadworks on the M1 around Luton.
After arriving at the ground, the Manager introduced me to the club staff and showed me around. I was then whisked off for my medical at a local doctor’s surgery before returning to sign my contract.
As I am under 24, although I was out of contract, Northampton had to pay compensation to Mansfield. I was required to attend the tribunal in London, which took place on Monday. The tribunal panel spoke to Mansfield and Northampton and myself, and set a fee for Northampton to pay, which is up to £70,000 depending on appearances. Though I had to go to the hearing, it was really a matter for the two clubs.
My job now is to work exceptionally hard to get over my recent injury and force myself into the Manager’s plans when I am fully fit.
Were you the best player in your school and when did you realise you had a chance of playing football as a career? From Alan
I was one of the best players at school. I remember there being one lad who was bigger and stronger than the rest of us when I was younger. He had a pretty powerful shot.
I don’t think I really thought I had a chance of making it as a player until I got to QPR. I had always been told I was technically good from an early age and I scored a lot of hat tricks when I played Sunday league football when I was 13 or 14.
How did you get signed up by QPR? From Will
I attended QPR summer schools for about 4 or 5 years. I kept winning Player of the Week and Player of the Tournament Awards. The guy that ran the soccer schools was also a Football in the Community Office for QPR and he managed to get me a trial. I did well at the trial and QPR signed me.
Giles, which team do you support? Do you have a favourite player, past or present, or both? From Dan
I’m a Gooner! I’ve supported Arsenal from a young age. Ian Wright was my favourite player, I used to love watching him play.
My favourite current player is Steven Gerrard, who also wears Adidas Predator Absolutes, like me. He is obviously a central midfielder as well, and is a great role model. He works really hard, he’s got such a great engine, and he’s obviously very passionate about playing for Liverpool and England.
Keep sending in your questions, and see you all in two weeks!