Gillingham manager Martin Allen goes head-to-head with a man this weekend who helped shape his own career.
Allen’s promotion chasers meet a Dagenham side bossed by long-serving manager John Still.
And Allen (pictured) - whose family come from the Dagenham area - hasn’t forgotten the help which Still dished out over a decade ago.
“He is a proper manager and a proper man and I have learned a lot from John Still,” said the Gills manager.
“I went on a course in North London, held at some veterinary college, which was pretty apt with my nickname,” said Allen – who is often referred to as Mad Dog.
“I didn’t know who this guy was. He was a non-league manager and he was big. His trainers seemed to be much bigger than his feet. He had glasses, a bald head and his top looked too tight. But he had a smile on his face and it was the same every day. His tracksuit was old-fashioned but he was the most popular person there.
“I got chatting to him and had some good banter with him and I liked him. There was something about him; he was like an old headmaster, a sergeant major-type character.
“He invited me to Barnet (where Still was manager). I was a gardener at the time, doing that for a living once I had finished playing. He invited me in go do some training sessions. Obviously he didn’t pay me but it was to get me off the street.
“I used to do Barnet in the morning with John Still and in the afternoons I went into the posh area of West London to do people’s gardens to make a living, that’s when I got a call from Reading (where he joined Alan Pardew and was to become the club’s assistant manager).
“I have kept in touch with John Still ever since. He is honest, straightforward and knows a player. He did brilliant to get promotion into Division 1 (in 2010) and was remarkable, with the resources he had available. He is just a top bloke.”