"I don't mind all that. But I should have told them I'd only sign if they let us win!"
If Kettering Town's players had wondered how things would be with Paul Gascoigne in their dug-out, now they surely knew. Their tie with Stevenage would have been a test enough for them in any event; with a crowd of 4,500 crammed into their creaky Rockingham Road ground and television cameras watching their every move, for some it was probably too much.
"I hope that's what happened, that the occasion got to them a bit," Gascoigne said, seeking to explain why a side that had not conceded a goal in six matches had now let in three."They will have to get used to the spotlight pretty quick. Things will settle down a bit, but the attention is never going to disappear. It is how they respond that will be the key."
How will Gazza respond? So far, post-glory and post-rehab, all of his attempts to reignite the dying light have been short-lived, although he says they were ended at his own behest, because he was being used, his fame exploited. But as he faced the cameras on Saturday evening, he also looked to have adjustments to make.
If Imraan Ladak, Kettering's chairman, achieves his ambitions, the club will move to a gleaming new stadium. But that will take time and patience. The first step towards maintaining Gascoigne's enthusiasm is to make the players full-time.
Gascoigne said: "When you can only train on Tuesday and Thursday nights, it shows. The plan is to go full-time as quickly as possible."
Fitness and preparation were the difference on Saturday, Gascoigne believes. Stevenage had stronger legs and sharper minds, going ahead through Darryn Stamp's header, then recovering from Neil Midgley's equaliser to regain their lead through the outstanding George Boyd before half-time. Substitute Anthony Elding made the outcome certain in the second half.
But Kettering, sixth in Nationwide North, shaped promisingly. "I know we are better than that," Gascoigne said. Promotion is more likely than not, in which case this comeback may well be the real thing.
Goals: Stamp (8) 0-1; Midgley (14) 1-1; Boyd (43) 1-2; Elding (69) 1-3.
Kettering Town (4-4-2): Osborn; Diuk, Brown, McIlwain, Nicell; Hall, Theobald, Paterson, Gould (Burgess, 73); Moore, Midgley (Difante, 74). Substitutes not used: Thompson, Attwood, Duffy.
Stevenage Borough (4-4-2): Julian; Warner, Quinn, Laker, Perpetuini; Bullman, Brough (Gregory, 74), Berquez, Boyd (Lewis, 85); Nurse (Elding, 61), Stamp. Substitutes not used: Gore, Sullivan.
Referee: J Robinson (East Yorkshire).
Booked: Stevenage Perpetuini, Stamp.
Man of the match: Boyd.
Attendance: 4,548.Reuse content