MICHAEL McCANN talks to the Harriers hitman on his life-long ambition to one day play in the Football League, dealing with a £55,000 price tag and his thoughts on leaving Cambridge just before their promotion into League 2
"I know what I want and I know how to get it, ‘cos I, I wanna be, in the Football League.’ Or so the chant goes that you will hear at Conference grounds everywhere.
The ditty also neatly summarises a goal that Michael Gash has spent his entire career pursuing.
The striker fell just short with Kidderminster in 2013 after finishing second and has seen Football League moves fall through over the years.
“It has been tough, having multiple chances to go to the Football League but for reasons out of my hands it hasn’t happened,” says Gash. “However, you cannot let disappointment run your life and that extra desire makes me want to prove a point by getting there with Kidderminster.”
The sentiment is shared by all at the Harriers, who fell agonisingly short in the play-offs in 2013 after finishing just two points of winning the division.
“To see all that hard work the boys had put in to reach just the play-offs was devastating, even though I had only been here for three months.”
The striker scored 21 goals that season, finishing as the joint top scorer in the league, and can certainly attest to how the standard has improved over time.
Unsurprisingly the striker is one of many to advocate three promotion slots for the Conference. “Absolutely. It should have been done years ago — two slots is very harsh considering the standard of players and teams in this league.”
Despite his old club Cambridge United gaining promotion last season, Gash remains adamant that joining the Harriers was the right move. “I enjoyed my time at Cambridge but footballing and personal reasons made it the right time to leave.”
He adds that “Cambridge is a fantastic club, it was a welcoming place and they are back where they deserve to be.”
The 28-year-old is part of a Kidderminster side that sit just two points short of the play-off places ahead of this weekend, providing another opportunity to make his Football League dream a reality.
“We have a good enough squad to get promoted but we must become more consistent,” says the striker.
“We are a bit hit and miss, we are not being consistent enough and not winning games that we should be.”
Kidderminster had a strong start with eight games unbeaten but since then Gash is open about the frustration at failing to continue this form. “We have dominated games against Grimsby and Wrexham but lost to two late goals and we haven’t played too well recently, but we know we can beat any team in this league.”
The Harriers showed this through a dramatic second-half comeback at league leaders Barnet last weekend, with a Gash goal early in the second half starting the recovery, leaving a 7-point gap to the top. “It isn’t a massive gap, if anybody can find a consistent run they will go right up there as it’s so tight at the top.”
The Conference appears to be more open than ever this year and the Harriers are “one of eight-10 teams who could be up there,” says Gash. “Play-offs is the minimum expectation for the squad, the manager, the board, the staff and the fans.”
The answer to this inconsistency is one that Gash is unable to pinpoint, stressing that “we are doing everything right on and off the pitch — I don’t think it’s a mentality thing.”
Gash would know, as he is an experienced campaigner at this level who actively looks to pass this experience onto the young lads, who he reserves praise for.
“They have a good attitude, want to improve and have no problem listening to advice from the older pros.”
Earlier in his career a £55,000 move to York led to a play-off final defeat for Gash which he still considers “the biggest disappointment of my footballing career naturally, as it was losing at Wembley.”
He also had to deal with a price tag that while he “didn’t feel pressure when on the field,” meant he was aware that “they would be expecting a lot.”
However Gash feels that his extensive experience has improved his ability. “It definitely does help — I don’t think you get worse until your legs have gone and that hasn’t happened yet.”
The striker has passed this experience on to younger members of the squad, particularly considering the difficulties of gaining promotion. “If you’ve got a chance you have to grab it — even at 21 it might be your only one,” he adds.
Multiple chances have come and gone for Gash to realise his Football League dream but his self-belief remains. “I believe I can play at that level but I need someone else to believe it too,” he says.
“I will never give up, I want to be a Football League player and hopefully I can do that with Kidderminster Harriers.”