History Boys: Marcus Gayle – News
It was a loan spell in Finland that prepared Marcus Gayle for life as a first-team player at Brentford.
Handed over to his debut by Steve Perryman in October 1988, the youth team graduate would go on to make sporadic appearances throughout the rest of that season and the next, before Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS) made his interest known .
It turned out that he took to Nordic life like a duck to water. But to get him there in the first place, it took a bit of convincing.
“When I was told at first, I didn’t want to go at all,” Marcus told the club’s official program. “Actually, I told the manager I wasn’t going.
“Then I had words with my mum, who also spoke to the manager, and they thought that would be the best thing for me, so that’s what I did – and spent the best time of my life playing there.I had my own apartment which was awesome and I was only 19 so loved every minute of it.
“I couldn’t drive so I only had a push bike! It kept me fit and healthy and the lifestyle was pretty clean as well. There were a lot of life skills learned. I couldn’t speak the language; the best way to communicate was with my left foot and show people what I could do with it.
“I couldn’t speak the language; the best way to communicate was with my left foot”
“I played in the European Cup Winners’ Cup and came back top scorer with 13 goals in 29 games which gave me confidence that I could definitely do it in England – and also have a profound impact. That’s what happened when I came back: I was blasted straight into the Brentford first team about a week or two later.
It was during Phil Holder’s first season as Brentford Manager in 1990/91 that he became a regular fixture on the squad roster, tallying 44 appearances in all competitions as the Bees were eventually beaten by Tranmere in the Third Division Qualifiers semi-final. Final.
Holder had been Perryman’s assistant before being appointed in his own right and although Marcus gives him credit for being “the architect of the start of my career at Brentford”, he admits that the first time they are met was eventful.
“I will never forget it,” he said with a smile. “I was around 15 and we played an Under-15 game against Tottenham at Griffin Park. We were losing, it was miserable and I remember Phil walking into the dressing room in this beige raincoat with the collar up Before he spoke to anyone he kicked the metal physio bench and everyone jumped and paid attention He walked around the whole room nibbling at everyone and I was the last one, so I thought I’d get it.
“He came up to me, pointed at me and said, ‘Are you a sprinter?’ and I said, ‘No!’ and he said, ‘Yes, you are! Now go past it! I had to run for my life in the second half just to play with pride! It always stuck with me because he saw something different in the players and he saw it with me.
“I felt he was the first manager to have real confidence in my abilities and he showed that in training. Let’s say we were training volleys at the ‘keeper, he would use me as a demonstration because of my technique. He spent hours with the youngsters trying to develop them.
“Whether it’s life skills or pep talks or instilling that belief in myself, I have a lot of time and admiration for Phil and we’re still in touch now.”
As such, Marcus continued to play an important role in Holder’s plans in 1991/92 and had scored five league goals by Christmas, helping the Bees to the top of the Third Division table. He was impressive on the left wing, especially as he was only 21 at the time, but as he recalls his memories of that season there is little room for self- praise.
Rather, he reserves his gratitude for his teammates and the skills they helped him develop throughout the campaign and beyond.
“I had to learn from Neil Smillie, Gary Blissett and Dean Holdsworth – that was the majority of the top four we had at the time,” he continues. “There were great players all around the team who encouraged me. I didn’t feel pressured by these pros; I think they respected the fact that I had abilities and something in my game that was going to help the team to improve and they supported me in that sense.
“I got along particularly well with Deano, because we were the same age. We’ve been buddies since we were 18 or 19 and we’re here, still close now in our 50s, so the bond is strong. He even told me that in his entire career, he was the one who played on the same team as me the most, which I found touching.
“He helped me so much to send a ball into the box. In my youth I would probably bounce it at the near post and just put it in there. I cared, but I didn’t care. really until Deano said he wanted it all on deck so he could do it on the fly he didn’t want the rebound because it made it a million times harder. He showed me how to get that ball in there, how he wanted it. So that was my job; I needed to supply this guy because this guy can score goals. Gary was the same with how he wanted the ball the timing, the body movements, when he wanted the ball.
On the other side was Neil Smillie, whom I had watched and studied in training and in games, if not playing. I just watched how he beat his opponent, the types of deliveries, the shoulder drop and the timing of the runs. I had great role models on the team that helped me, so I just put a bit of everyone in my game, but I stayed true to myself.
The conversation then turns to the second half of the season and the lack of momentum that threatened to derail the promotion offer. Beginning with the 2–1 loss to Huddersfield on Boxing Day 1991, the Bees would lose ten of the next 18 games, relinquish top spot and stage a tough season finale.
“When you look back, we lost quite a few games that season. During this spell, if we hadn’t truly believed and stepped back to bounce back, we would never have succeeded. However, good characters can train you.
“You have people like Bob Booker who went there and saw it and did it. Although he may not have played every game, I enjoyed it in terms of experience he had, the messages he shared, and I learned to be a senior pro with Bob. He still had a vital role.
“The culture at the time was a very tight community of players mingling and having a pint with the fans and certainly each other. I wasn’t really aware of the pint because I was so young and that I would probably vomit anyway, but those are the things that have knit bands together.
“There was nothing we couldn’t fix and we had a great season because of the characters we had. We had a really good connection and a vocal manager; the one who would also have fun but when it was work time was work time. If you needed an arm around you, you’d definitely get one from Phil. If it was a hair dryer, you’d definitely lose your hair. strands of hair because her hair dryer was quite hot!It was a measured balance of everything to pull it off.
“If you needed an arm around you, you would definitely have one from Phil. If it was a hair dryer, you would definitely lose your hair strands!
Success came on the final day of the season, when Blissett’s goal was enough to see Brentford overtake Peterborough and help them lift Birmingham to the title by just one point.
“I remember we scored and hung on at the end because we were under pressure,” Marcus added.
“I think that’s the mark of a great team. You don’t have to play ten out of ten to win anything. We just found a formula for how to win. We dug during games, we had to hang on to some of them, and then on occasion we played football and blew teams away. There were other games where it was back to the wall, but we managed to get 1-0 wins. We hung on and dug in and that’s part of the ingredients for successful teams. You don’t always have to play well to win and we did that perfectly that season.
“I remember the final whistle and we knew we had put ourselves in a great position and then the party started. On the bus home we were listening to Kool and the Gang and I was sitting next to Chris Hughton He pulled out a cigar and I said, ‘Uncle Chris! What are you doing? You don’t smoke?!’ He just turned around, nudged me, and said, ‘Hey, it’s not every year or every day you get a promotion. You gotta take advantage of it!’ is what we did. It was just great to go back to the stadium and party until late hours with family, friends and fans.
So overall, how was it for Marcus to get promoted on his resume at such an early stage in his career?
“All I saw was progression until then, but the following year I discovered the complete opposite of success and promotion as we got relegation after just one season at club level. championship. It shakes you up, but I think it’s good for you to get a taste of the negative because that’s life. You don’t always get what you want every day, every year of your life. There will be times when you will lose.
“I got promoted at 21, got relegated at 22, then moved to Wimbledon the following year at 23, so it was all part of my life plan that I didn’t really know at the time, but looking back, that was part of what I needed to go through I had promotion, relegation and made the leap from Ligue 1 to the Premier League and I was all for that jump.