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Maidstone United boss John Still can see his Conference title record coming under threat from Torquay manager Gary Johnson

John Still's record of three Conference titles is coming under threat from the man in the opposite dugout this weekend.

Still is the only manager to have a trio of winners' medals in non-league's top flight - leading Maidstone, Dagenham and Luton to glory - but he could be joined by Gary Johnson if Torquay continue their excellent season.

Maidstone United head of football John Still Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United head of football John Still Picture: Steve Terrell

Johnson, whose previous title wins came with Yeovil and Cheltenham, has led the Gulls to fifth place following promotion from National League South.

They're only two points behind leaders Bromley and have to be considered genuine title contenders.

Still and Johnson go head to head when Maidstone host Torquay in the FA Cup first round this Saturday.

And Still said: "It looks like Gary could match me. He's had two, so it's definitely possible.

"I've known him a long, long time and what I'm going to say to him on Saturday is it's no good just going up through the play-offs, you've got to win the league. It only counts when you win it!

"Seriously, it would be a fantastic feat if he could get them up, however they do it.

"Gary's had a little bit of help from his son, Lee, with a couple of loans from Bristol City, which he should do.

"I just feel he was the right person for that job and they've done ever so well. I'm not surprised.

"I always feel if you're a one-club town or a one-club city, you're always going to generate good support, which they do.

"They're a Football League club playing in the National League.

Torquay manager Gary Johnson
Torquay manager Gary Johnson

"They've shown themselves to be at the forefront of the league this year and, without a doubt, it's going to be a really tough test against them."

Johnson, whose CV also includes a Championship play-off final with Bristol City, didn't fare too well the last time he faced Maidstone.

He was the Cheltenham boss when United won 4-2 at Whaddon Road in a first-round tie two years ago.

United raced into a 3-0 lead at half-time as home fans turned on their side but Still says that won't be in Johnson's mind this weekend.

"Not at all," said Still. "When you're an experienced manager, you live with the highs and lows.

"Over his career he's probably had some outstanding wins and some really disappointing losses but none of that will faze him.

"When you're inexperienced you might beat yourself up after a defeat but when you've been doing it a long time, you know it's not like that.

"We all look back after games and think maybe I should have done this or that but you do what you feel is right at the time.

"As managers, we all live with that.

"Life's like that. You buy a red shirt and two days later you want to wear something different and wish you'd bought a blue shirt."

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