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The Shouting Men: Gillingham midfielder Ben Chapman writes exclusively for the KM Group

By Luke Cawdell

I’ve enjoyed every minute of pre-season, it was hard work but all worth it in the end.

I was buzzing to get a pro deal at Gillingham, it is everything I could have asked for, a dream come true.

Now I just want to keep progressing and slowly work my way into the team. I want to push myself on and make the manager proud.

Ben Chapman has his sights set on a place in the first team at Priestfield Picture Steve Crispe

Ben Chapman has his sights set on a place in the first team at Priestfield Picture: Steve Crispe

Pre-season was much harder than expected, starting with our trip to Northern Ireland. We were waking up at 6am to then go running, that was hard.

We were climbing up mountains, having spin sessions, running and riding around the lake.

It was good but hard. It has made all the boys so much fitter.

The lads enjoyed it, it was such a good laugh and we bonded well.

It was a big thing getting my contract this summer and my family were so proud. I had the family round to celebrate, I didn’t do too much and I didn’t have much of a holiday either.

I chilled for a couple of weeks, put in the hard graft and then came back.

Getting my pro deal is probably my biggest achievement so far. I have set myself targets and that was one.

I joined Gills about five years ago. I started off as a right-winger and played centre-half and then left-back and right-back when I first signed for Gills. I was moved into midfield by Bryan Bull (schoolboy development manager) in the under-14s and it has gone well. Since then I have stuck to that position.

I was at Crystal Palace before and my local team Bearsted. I signed for Palace for a year after a trial but got released.

I played a few games for different clubs and my mate introduced me to Gills. I spoke to one of the youth team scouts and he got me in and after two weeks I was signed, I have been here ever since.

I’ve been involved a lot over pre-season and I thought Dartford was my best game. At Chatham I played right-back, it wasn’t really my position but I felt I did all right. At home, against Patro, I played 45 there and did OK. It wasn’t my best performance but I thought it went well.

The gaffer has mentioned sending some of us out on loan. It might do me good going out on loan, to get a bit of experience. A lot of players have done it come back better but I might stay and do well that way.

What has helped me is some of the senior boys here, telling me what to do, that gives you confidence.

It is hard out there when people are watching you. It is a lot different to what I am used to but it is good.

Read the full column in Thursday's Medway Messenger.

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