Published: 06:00, 19 August 2019
| Updated: 08:28, 19 August 2019
Goalkeeper Jack Bonham is keen to make up for lost time.
Gillingham’s new no.1 took the man-of-the-match accolade last weekend in the home defeat to Burton Albion.
It’s been an encouraging start at Priestfield for the 25-year-old who has only just become accustomed to playing regular senior football. Full seasons with Carlisle, in League 2, and Bristol Rovers, at the next level, followed several years where he played the understudy role at both Watford and Brentford.
He said: “I have spent a lot of time being number two, or three.
“I was three at Watford for a long time, two now and again. I sat on the bench a few times and it was the same at Brentford, it was a no.2 role for three or four years. It’s frustrating when you are waiting for your chance.
“You have limited games but then it is about helping the person who is playing. You know you want to be playing but it is part of being a goalkeeper, you have to compete. It is tough to take sometimes, I trained really well for three or four years, but it means nothing really.
“Coming here and being number one was important, 100%. I had to continue playing. I had a year at Carlisle and a year at Rovers moving up to League 1 and it’s all part of my progression.
“I feel like I can play at the higher level and playing week in, week out will hopefully get me there.
“It has been a bit of a slow progression after not playing for those three or four years at a young age. I could possibly already be playing higher, but everyone works to their own time scale and their own path, and that is what has led me here.”
Gills boss Steve Evans was quick to call on Bonham when he got the job.
“The day the manager signed here he gave me a call,” said the keeper, who left Brentford in the summer.
“He wanted to meet me and that was it really. It was between here and Rovers, they were the initial ones, but the longer you leave it the bigger risk you take, with things happening or not.
“When I met the manager I knew it was the right place to come. He said that I would be starting as his number one and there would be a challenge to keep that spot. That was the main reason I signed and because of the way he wanted to play and his philosophy.”
Bonham says last season was his best yet, helping Rovers stay in League 1 with 15 clean sheets from 39 league matches he played, including one against the Gills.
Two of those were against this Tuesday’s opponents Blackpool, enjoying 4-0 and 3-0 wins over the Seasiders.
He said: “They were one of the teams we did well against last season and suited our style of play but it’s a new season, they’ve started pretty well, and I think it will be a tough game.
“I had a really solid season at Rovers and it gave me a boost but it’s nothing unless it can continue in that way.”
If Bonham can keep on impressing then a full international call-up might not be far away.There were whispers of Republic of Ireland selection last season after good league form for Rovers but it never materialised. He has played under-17 and under-19 internationally for Ireland, claiming status due to his grandparents.
“I didn’t hear anything officially from them,” he said, responding to rumours of a call-up last season.
“I just have to keep working hard and if that were to happen then that would be great for me. It’s a great honour to be called up at any level.
“I just have to keep working hard and put the performances in for the Gills. Hopefully something will come up.”
More by this authorLuke Cawdell