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Gillingham goalkeeper Simon Royce is looking forward to the challenge of playing in League 1 again

Simon Royce is celebratory mood at Wembley
Simon Royce is celebratory mood at Wembley

Simon Royce wants another crack at League 1

by Matthew Panting

Goalkeeper Simon Royce has unfinished business at Priestfield after signing a new one-year deal with Gillingham.

Royce put pen to paper to extend his stay at the club last Thursday, and is ready to make his mark in League 1.

The Gills were relegated two seasons ago, a campaign that still hurts Royce, despite the veteran keeper having picked up the player-of-the-year award for his individual efforts in 2007/08.

"We got relegated two seasons ago so there’s a score to settle – I want another crack at League 1," said Royce.

"I took the time to think about it and then I phoned up last Saturday and said that I wanted to sign the deal at training this week.

"Last season we got promoted and won at Wembley, and that really whetted my appetite again."

Royce took his time before deciding to accept Gillingham’s offer – and admitted he was afraid of being left on football’s scrapheap.

"I had to make a decision," he said. "The deal was not what I wanted, it’s a lot less than I was on (last season) but if I turned it down then I could have gone two or three weeks without a club – or not even got one at all.

Royce is one of the rare breed of footballers who doesn’t use an agent, a decision he accepted might have weakened his negotiating position.

"I don’t use an agent any more, I do it all myself now," he said. "It may have hindered me but there are 500 players out of contract so I don’t think it would have made a great deal of difference – and it saved me a lot of money as well.

"I haven’t used one for three years – I know enough people in the game. You have to play it by ear, I’ve got a network of managers and players I know."

As for the season ahead, Royce is relishing the prospect of playing in League 1 – a division that includes three of his former clubs in Southend, Charlton and Brighton.

"The first game is a decent one against Swindon," said Royce. "We owe them one after they smacked us 5-0 a couple of years ago.

"There’s more exciting games in the division now, a local derby with Charlton and big games with the likes of Southampton, Leeds and Norwich. I’d say this is the toughest that League 1 has ever been."

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