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Signing of ex-England defender Paul Konchesky continues Billericay Town’s transformation

Pic: Nicky Hayes

WELCOME to Non-League. Where a club can announce the signing of a former Premier League defender, their manager resigns and the owner takes caretaker charge all in the same evening.

Billericay Town have been sending waves through the Ryman Premier since Glenn Tamplin took over in December and started splashing the cash.

But even by their recent business, the signing of ex-England international Paul Konchesky is quite the coup.

The 35-year-old has played 29 times for League One Gillingham this season, but found himself out of the team under new boss Ady Pennock.

Konchesky admits his arrival at The New Lodge has been a whirlwind, in keeping with Tamplin’s ambition to reach the Football League.

They still have a chance to reach the play-offs this season, but that will now be without Craig Edwards after the long-serving boss quit on Thursday.

For his part, Tamplin has admitted there was a clash of personalities, but says Edwards is a “club legend” following his seven-year spell.

Tamplin will be in the dug-out as interim manager, possibly until the end of the season, with the senior players giving their input.

And they don’t come much more experienced than Konchesky, who had a 20-year career in the professional game with Charlton Athletic, West Ham, Fulham, Liverpool, Leicester City and the Gills.

Energy

In that time he reached an FA Cup final with the Hammers, the UEFA Cup final with Fulham and played for his country against Australia and Argentina.

“I still had a contract with Gillingham until the summer, but you know how football is,” Konchesky, who says he was always going to retire from professional football this summer, said.

“I’d played 30 games, the new manager came in and changed things so I wasn’t playing.

“I thought it was time for me to stop playing professional football. I’ve played for 20 years but I’m going to hang up my boots professionally. This has happened quick. I spoke to the owner on Monday and it’s moved fast. After hearing his ambition, his energy and what he wants to do with this football club, it’s phenomenal.

“I think he’s in a rush. It’s a project for him and he asked me to be involved. It’s a yes because I’m here.”

Konchesky owns a Pie and Mash shop – Konch’s Kafe – in Brentwood and will look to do his coaching badges on the side.

He’s aware of the stir his signing will cause, but says dropping down into Non-League doesn’t faze him.

“I played here in pre-season – but the sun was shining and it was a bit different!” he smiled. “Listen, it’s four lines, a football pitch with two goals. I know what people are getting at. But I’ve not got a massive ego. I love football, I want to play football and I’ve been given a great opportunity to be part of something.

“I was going to retire so I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be different but it’s something I look forward to.”

And he spoke to former West Ham team-mate Marlon Harewood, who played for Nuneaton Town last year, about the merits of continuing to play.

“He loves football and scoring goals so he did it,” he added. “I know people are going to make a big deal of me signing, but that’s life. I understand what’s going to come at me.

“It doesn’t matter where you play. Once you get playing you forget about everything around and you go for it.”

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