Gary Johnson: 'You can't have too many good senior pros in your dressing room'

Torbay Weekly

Three points were, as always, the most important thing at Dover Athletic last Saturday, but there was another bonus for us there - the name of 'D Wright' on our subs' bench and the 20 minutes we were able to give Danny towards the end of the game.

Because there aren't many 37-year-old centre forwards around in the pro game, I'm not really surprised when people seem to have a thing about Danny's age.

But when you work with him day in and day out, you very quickly forget about it.

He was a very important signing for us back in the summer of 2020 for the very simple reason that, if they're hopefully not a dying breed, there are very few like him around these days.

I'm a great believer that, if you can afford them, you can't have too many good senior pros in your dressing room - people who care about the team and the club, leaders on the pitch and off it.

Danny is one of those.

It's impossible to dislike him, for a start.

Everything he does is, well, manly - that's the best word I can think of. He's a very happy person, but one who has a terrific will to win, not for himself but for everyone around him.

It's why he's had the success he's had over his career, including his time with me and Downsey (Aaron Downes) at Cheltenham.

When you've always had people wanting to sign you at the end of every season, it says it all.

If Danny hadn't had a couple of unfortunate injuries, you can't help wondering if we might be in a different league by now, or higher up the one we're in.

But I'm still very happy that we've got him, and I believe that one of the reasons why we're in good form at the moment is because Danny isn't the only leader we've got in our squad.

Asa Hall, Dean Moxey, Tom Lapslie, Shaun MacDonald and Mark Halstead are experienced players that everyone can think of, but they've been backed up more and more by younger lads like Armani Little, Joe Lewis, Dan Holman, Ben Wynter and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans.

Armani, for example, has had a great season so far, despite a few problems that he's had to come through.

But I made him captain when Asa was injured, partly because my experience told me that, if he could handle those adversities, he would come through the other side even stronger and better.

I like to think of all of them as my 'disciples' in a way, because of how they now think and go about their jobs.

An individual can always win a game, but if you start doing individual stuff each week, for whatever reason, you're never going to win anything over a long season.

Even away from match days, all those lads I've mentioned are always on it in training, and they also make sure that, if someone slips out of line, they put them right before I have to deal with it.

Everyone has been talking about the strength of the National League, and how it's high time that it was closer to the EFL in structure and promotion places.

We've had another example of that with Paul Cook's return to Chesterfield as manager, especially when you think of the clubs that he's managed since his first stint there (Portsmouth, Wigan, Ipswich Town).

Paul could never have imagined that he would lose his leading scorer Kabby Tshimanga in his very first match in charge at Weymouth last Saturday.

Kabby is still in hospital with a leg injury as I write these notes, and of course we wish him a speedy recovery.

My thoughts also go to our friends at Buckland Athletic after their FA Vase 'defeat'.

We know all too well how it feels to lose a penalty shoot-out. But I'm sure they'll bounce back quickly from that disappointment, and good luck to them.

We have two big home games coming up, against Barnet on Saturday and Boreham Wood next Tuesday night.

Several managers have said how good the atmosphere at Plainmoor has been lately, and how well our crowd has got behind us.

We never take it for granted but that level of support is so important to the way we're trying to play.