Birchall revels in Gills home debut
This time last season, Gillingham striker Adam Birchall was ready to make his Football League bow following his dream move from the non-league.
A ruptured cruciate ligament injury picked up during pre-season, forced the former Dover Athletic forward to miss the whole of the last campaign but during Saturday’s nPower League Two draw with Chesterfield, Birchall finally announced himself to the Priestfield crowd.
Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, Birchall said: “I worked so hard to get this dream move to Gillingham from non-league. I wasn't willing to give up on it.
“It's been a hard struggle to get to this point. It felt amazing.”
Birchall’s return to competitive action could have been made even sweeter, if he had converted a late chance to extend the Gills’ perfect start to the new season.
He continued: “It would have been the fairytale start (to score the winner) but I'd rather have a fairytale career here.
“The last couple of weeks my knee has been feeling a bit off. I've been given time to rest it and strengthen it and it’s been great.”
He added: “I was buzzing when I was told I was on the bench and I loved being out there.”
Birchall looks to be over the worse of his injury problems and remains confident that he can be a success at the League Two promotion candidates.
He continued: “I spoke with the main physiotherapist and he said it’s completely fine now and that’s all that I want to here. I can now start kicking on with my career again.”
Return to fitness
Gillingham boss Martin Allen was delighted with the return to fitness of the striker, who netted 64 times in 78 appearances during a two year spell with Dover.
Allen said: “Adam's worked fantastically hard all summer. I love him around the training ground. He always smiles at me and is such a happy character.”
The Gills travel to Crawley Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy this evening with Birchall hopeful of making a first start for the Kent club in the near future.
“When you've been out this long, you have to be so patient,” Birchall continued.
“The gaffer has been great, helping me through each step of my pre-season. Match sharpness is something that comes with games.
Hanging in there
“It's about hanging in there, showing what I can do in training, hopefully catching the management team's eye and see where it takes me.”
Birchall returns to a winning side who sit top of Npower League Two after an impressive start under new management.
Even so, the striker is under no illusion that the Gills face a difficult task in remaining top of the pile heading into the second part of the season.
He concluded: “It feels good to be top of the league but it’s all about being there at the end of the season, we have a lot of hard work to come.”
By Daniel Ludlam