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Swansea City v Gillingham: Gills boss Steve Lovell says his dad would be proud as he prepares for Liberty Stadium clash

Steve Lovell will be hoping his Gillingham team can turn in a weekend performance that would make his dad proud.

Lovell takes the Gills to Swansea on Saturday in the FA Cup fourth round, a team he grew up watching with his father, Alan.

The draw has stoked plenty of memories for Lovell, having started his footballing journey playing for his father’s team Dunvant & Three Crosses, just outside Swansea.

Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry
Gillingham manager Steve Lovell Picture: Ady Kerry

Asked what his father, who passed away in 2013, would have made of it all, Lovell said: “He would be really proud.

“It will be quite an emotional day for my mum, my sister and myself because he would have loved to be in a position to watch.

“He played for Swansea as a pro in the 1950s and he would be very proud. Hopefully we can put on a performance that he would be proud of.”

Dunvant & Three Crosses were formed by Lovell’s father and another man, Ken Graves, but the team were “pretty hopeless” to start with, said the Gills boss.

And football wasn’t particularly the top priority for him, either.

Lovell said: “My dad got some players in from other teams, he had coaching badges and he used to coach me on a Sunday morning in a field out in the country.

“Afterwards he used to chuck me into the cold stream that ran alongside the pitch to get me clean! He would say ‘go on, wash off all the dirt!’.

“He pushed me in my career but I must admit when I was younger I wasn’t into sport at all. I was into books and I went to grammar school. My dad didn’t like that and he thought ‘I’m going to make a man out of you’.”

Lovell would enjoy a successful football career and was capped six times for Wales, playing alongside current Swansea first-team coach Alan Curtis.

“We went to many places together with the Welsh team,” said Lovell. “I know him very well and it will be nice to see Curt, he is a good lad.”

The Liberty Stadium, home of Swansea City (6748853)
The Liberty Stadium, home of Swansea City (6748853)

Up in the stands on Saturday will be plenty of familiar faces, including his mum and his sister’s family, all of whom still reside in Swansea.

“Knowing my mum I think she’ll be supporting Swansea!” Lovell joked.

“My mum took over my dad’s season ticket at Swansea when he died and watched them for a few years when they were in the Premier League.

“She gave me a report before their game against Sheffield United and she knows what she is talking about.

“There are a lot of her friends from the golf club who are all Swansea supporters so she has been getting some stick and my sister has been the same in her work.

“She’s been putting banners up at work, apparently, one saying ‘Stevie Lovell’s Barmy Army’.”

The Gills will be backed by more than 1,200 fans and after last weekend’s defeat to Walsall, Lovell is hoping for a better day.

He said: “It’s the FA Cup fourth round, it’s a day to be enjoyed.

“We should enjoy it every week but last Saturday some of the players can honestly say they didn’t.

“You don’t enjoy losing 3-0, but it is the way that you lose the game 3-0.”

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