Bostik Premier: Keith Rowland teaching young Wingate & Finchley squad some old school values

Action from Wingate & Finchley's clash against Hendon in the Bostik Premier (pic: DBeechPhotography)

Action from Wingate & Finchley's clash against Hendon in the Bostik Premier (pic: DBeechPhotography) - Credit: Archant

The Wingate under-23s are still in competitive action and have two more finals coming up over the next few days

Keith Rowland is trying to teach his young Wingate & Finchley squad some of the terminology from his playing days.

The 46-year-old spent a large chunk of his career in the Premier League with West Ham United before spells further down the division with Queens Park Rangers, Luton Town, Chesterfield and Barnet.

Rowland has been there, done it and worn the t-shirt – including internationally where he represented Northern Ireland on 19 occasions between 1993 and 1999.

He is now using his past experience to help manage Wingate in the Bostik Premier – step three on the non-league pyramid – and doing a finish job.

The Blues ended their 2017/18 campaign with a 1-0 win at Harlow Town on April 28 which secured a respectable ninth-place finish.

When reflecting on the youthfulness of the Wingate squad, it enabled Rowland to cast his mind back to his playing days.

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He said: “I had four under-23s in the group at Harlow and outside of that I have got a few 21-year-olds. Ahmet (Rifat) my captain wasn’t there or Marc Charles-Smith, so the middle of my team is experienced, but in and around it is inexperienced.

“Reece Beckles-Richards is 21, Luke Ifil is a young boy and you have people like Ben Pattie and Afi (Afolabi Obafemi), so they’re all young lads and in their early twenties.

“Whatever I say to them, they have to have the attitude to do well and I personally call it enthusiasm.

“People rely too much on tactics and systems, but if you get a group of players which have a little bit of ability and enthusiasm, then that’s half the battle won.

“If you were a player growing up in my era that was installed in you and if you didn’t have that you wouldn’t get far and I am trying to bring it back with this group.

“I am telling them terminology they have never heard before like ‘to close ranks’ and they have never heard it before. When things are not going well, you close ranks, so you take out any outside influences that could be negative and close ranks.

“They don’t understand that word and I find it amazing words like that don’t have a place in the modern day game – that’s a shame, but I’m trying to bring it back.”

While Wingate’s first-team finished their season almost two weeks ago, the under-23s still have a couple of important matches to play.

Dean Barker’s side wrapped up the Bostik Development North title recently, but can win more trophies over the next week.

On Friday, the Blues take on Margate in the Champions of Champions final at Aveley’s Parkside (7.30pm kick-off) while on Tuesday they face Hastings United in the League Cup final at the same venue.