Gillespie eyes up quick promotion

STEVEN Gillespie didn't waste time weighing up his options before signing for Colchester United in a club record move on Monday night.

Carl Marston

STEVEN Gillespie didn't waste time weighing up his options before signing for Colchester United in a club record move on Monday night.

Instead of any long, agonising deliberations about what to do, Gillespie was delighted to rubber-stamp this whirlwind transfer in super-quick time.

“It all happened so quickly,” admitted red-hot striker Gillespie, who bagged 16 goals for his previous club Cheltenham last season.

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An initial bid from the U's, believed to be in the region of £350,000, had already been rejected, but an improved second offer was accepted at the end of the week.

“Once I knew that Colchester were interested, last Friday, I wanted to leave Cheltenham and sign for my new club. I was given permission to speak to the manager (Geraint Williams) and the chairman (Robbie Cowling), and I came down to Colchester to sign on Monday.

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“The whole thing only took three days. I always want to better myself, and every footballer will tell you that they want to play at the highest level possible. I believe I have that chance with Colchester.

“It was a real struggle for Cheltenham to stay in the division (League One) last season. We only stayed up on the final day. I was delighted to get 16 goals, and I had a good season, but there was always the chance that I would move on.

“Colchester were in the Championship last season, and I believe that they can get back up there. That's a big reason for me signing. I had a good feeling when I spoke to the chairman, and of course I already knew all about the new ground.

“I have been impressed with Colchester's ambition and I want to start winning things,” added Gillespie.

The U's will be installed in their new Weston Homes Community Stadium for the new campaign, in League One, and Gillespie was the club's fourth new summer signing, following the arrival of defenders Matt Heath, Matt Lockwood and Paul Reid.

Ironically, midfielder David Perkins became the fifth new recruit, within hours of Gillespie's signing, when the 26-year-old completed a move from Rochdale for an undisclosed six-figure fee on Monday night.

Former Liverpool trainee Gillespie, meanwhile, smashed the U's club record transfer fee, which had been the £350,000 paid to Luton for Chris Coyne in January. The U's splashed out in excess of £400,000 to snap up the 23-year-old goal-poacher.

Gillespie continued: “I had a good upbringing at Liverpool, although of course it was difficult to break into the first team there. In fact, it's hard enough trying to even get a game for the reserves!

“A few of my team-mates from the youth team have gone on to play in the League, like Darren Potter at Wolves. I managed to play a few games for Liverpool Reserves, before signing for Bristol City when I was just 19.

“I've since scored a few goals for Cheltenham, but last year was a long, hard season. I know that I can score goals at this level, and there are some good strikers at Colchester. I've already noticed that from my first day of training,” added Gillespie.

The U's strike-force department is currently made up of four experienced front-runners in Gillespie, Kevin Lisbie, Clive Platt and Scott Vernon.

Gillespie might be the least experienced of this quartet, but he is the only one of them who can boast breaking a record previously held by Robbie Fowler, and later eclipsed by Wayne Rooney.

Gillespie concluded: “I did break Robbie Fowler's goal-scoring record for Liverpool Schools, many years ago. I beat it by a couple of goals, but Wayne Rooney then came along and virtually doubled it!”

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