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Michael Cheek on the stress caused by Ebbsfleet United paying wages late

By Steve Tervet

Departing striker Michael Cheek has described the day Ebbsfleet's frustrations over late payments came to the surface.

Cheek, who this week signed for National League rivals Bromley, experienced more in his one season with Fleet than many players would in a decade.

Among many memorable moments was the visit of Wrexham on March 30 when Cheek scored twice in a 4-2 win.

Michael Cheek celebrates with Corey Whitely and Jack Payne Picture: Andy Jones
Michael Cheek celebrates with Corey Whitely and Jack Payne Picture: Andy Jones

But that only told half the story with Ebbsfleet's players refusing to warm up before the game in an ongoing row over their wages.

Cheek said: "Against Wrexham we stood up for ourselves and look how that turned out.

"It was mixed emotions. It was nice for the fans all to be backing us in that situation.

"A lot of emotion came out in that first half, a lot of emotions that people had buried due to payments and how the club was being run. It all came out in that first half.

"I don’t think it mattered who we played that day. We were always going to come out of the traps quick and it was just nice for it to be Wrexham and to dent their promotion push in such a big game for both teams."

Michael Cheek celebrates his first goal against Wrexham Picture: Andy Jones
Michael Cheek celebrates his first goal against Wrexham Picture: Andy Jones

The remaining Ebbsfleet players turned up at Stonebridge Road on Monday to demand their overdue wages for April.

Cheek said: "It’s a lot of pressure with families at home. We’ve got a lot of players with kids and mortgages to pay, so it’s not nice not knowing when you’re going to get paid.

"I think it’d be all right if we had a date in mind that we were going to get paid or got told it’s going to be late but most of the time we got told a day before or on the day that money wasn’t going to be there and by then, it’s too late.

"We only ask for a bit of time on when the money’s going to be in. It causes stress in the household, which you don’t need, and luckily that didn’t really go onto the pitch."

Ebbsfleet's financial problems have affected all the players in different ways and Cheek is no different.

Ebbsfleet's players celebrate one of their four goals against Wrexham Picture: Andy Jones
Ebbsfleet's players celebrate one of their four goals against Wrexham Picture: Andy Jones

"It’s been difficult to be honest," he said. "At the moment we’re going for a mortgage so it’s not nice, not knowing when money’s going to come in. It’s stress you don’t need in and around the house.

"You need to know when you’re getting paid and when the money’s coming in so you can pay bills. Most of the boys have probably got savings to jump back on but that should never be the case. Some of the boys haven’t got savings to use and it’s difficult.

"This season has definitely taught me a lot, on and off the field. I’ve met some great players and I’ve learned that, as a team, we can do more even if off-field issues are a problem.

"It’s the best group of players I’ve played with in all honesty, characters and talent-wise.

"It’s just a shame the way it’s ended."

Read more from Michael Cheek in the Gravesend Messenger on Thursday.

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