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Interviews

INTERVIEW: I want to help to get us back to where we should be

Joe Garner on his move back to Cumbria

23 January 2023

Interviews

INTERVIEW: I want to help to get us back to where we should be

Joe Garner on his move back to Cumbria

23 January 2023

Experienced striker Joe Garner returned to Brunton Park on an 18-month deal last week, and it’s one of those moves that, for whatever reason, seems to just fit.

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Now with over 500 career appearances in all competitions under his belt, there’s no doubt that he brings a wealth of knowledge, along with real ability, at what could be a crucial stage of the season.

“I suppose you could say that it feels like coming home,” he said. “I’ve been reminded so many times that I think it’s my fourth time back at the club, but I really enjoy it here.

“I’ve never not had a good time and, like I say, I’m just really happy to be back. I just want to be part of something special.

“I think I’ve always had a good relationship with all of the fans here, back since day one. It’s a massive club and that’s why I am really happy to be here.

“Hopefully it is to be part of something good and we push on through the rest of the season.”

The other important factor, alongside the internet rumours, is that it’s another player who genuinely wants to be here.

“When I spoke to Greg and the gaffer it was the only place that I wanted to come to,” he confirmed. “I did have offers from other teams but, like I say, I was really excited about what the manager said, and about what Greg said on the phone to back it up.

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“Obviously I know Greg, he was here when I was and he’s a great character, so that really helped with those conversations. I’ve really enjoyed my time every time I’ve been here. I’ve been all over with different clubs and with the people up here, and how they are, you won’t find anywhere better in the country.

“I think they’re very honest, they love their football and it’s good to be part of it. I’ve never worked with the gaffer, but I’ve never heard a bad word said about him at any of the clubs I’ve been with.

“When I spoke to him it was extremely positive and it was a green light from me. When I left the club the first time we were top end of League One, pushing for promotion to the Championship, and I think we had a team that was good enough to do that.

“Unfortunately I got a bad injury that year, but we’d beaten teams like Leeds, Bournemouth and Swansea here, and nobody liked to play us. We just fell short in the end, maybe through injuries, so maybe there’s a little bit of unfinished business.

“I want to help to get the club back to where it should be. If I can do anything to help with that, I will.”

And pointing once more to that experience, he told us: “I think I’ve learned a lot over the years. It’s 16 or 17 years since I first came now, and I’m obviously at a different end of my career.

“I’ve probably learned a lot off quite a few other pros, and I now know how to help others. For me when I came from Blackburn there were people like Kevin Gray who helped me when I was young.

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“I come into this dressing room now and I see people like JK, who is young, and anything I can do to help lads like that with their careers, I will.

“He’s one from what I’ve seen who has a bright future ahead of him, like many of the players in that dressing room have.

“With my age and what I’ve done I think it’s probably part of my role to help the younger lads like that if I can. I’ve had 13 or 14 clubs, something like that, and I’ve seen how older players have handled themselves.

“Some don’t want to be there, some moan a lot, but most just want to help the young players. You do what you need to do and I’ve learned a lot from watching different dressing rooms over the years. I mentioned Kev Gray, it’s people like that who do go out of their way to help the young lads who really stand out.

“Players like that tend to want to be around to help others get the best out of themselves, and that’s because they want the best for the club as well. That’s what I want to bring.”

He comes to the club knowing a few of the players already here – a factor that is bound to help when it comes to settling in.

“I spoke to Hunts quite a bit, to be fair,” he told us. “Most people know what he brings. He’s quite quiet, but he’s probably the most professional person I’ve ever come across in the game.

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“He only had good words for the gaffer and the whole place really. I keep thinking back to the first time I was here and we had about 16,000 fans in against Leeds, and it’s just a great place.

“It’s a community club and when the fans come out and get behind us it really helps. I’ve seen and felt that myself, against some big clubs, and when I move on that’s where I want to leave the club.

“I want to have helped to get it back to League One. I’ll do everyone within my own powers to get back up there.”

And the length of the deal means that this is a next step he can really get his teeth into.

“With it being 18 months it means when I leave here, or when I come to the end, or if I do another year, or whatever, I want the club back in League One. I really do think that’s where it belongs.

“I think the gaffer is on the right path with it and, in fact, I think the whole club is on the right path towards heading back up that way. Whether we get it done this year, or next year, we’ll all be fighting in the same place and what will be, will be.

“I’ll definitely try to do my bit. I think as you get older you mature as a person and I am confident that I can score goals at this level and help the team. That’s what I’ll be trying to do.”

And that could start for him with a home game against Hartlepool on Tuesday night.

“When I’m out there again it’s going to be very special,” he admitted. “I think I’ve done it three times before and I’ve never not had a good time out there.

“I want to enjoy my football, enjoy being around the lads, help as much as I can and hopefully get a few goals as well.

“It’s a club that has a feel of wanting to get better, for sure. The changing room is buzzing, the lads are energetic in there and there’s just a great feel around the place.

“If we can add a bit of luck hopefully we will be pushing right on. I have that fire in the belly that means I want to do well, but I don’t think that ever goes.

“Again, looking back to the first time, I honestly believe we should have gone up that year. So that really is where I want to leave the club, back where we were in the first place.”

But are there any personal targets?

“Can I say give me a week or two, let me settle in, and we’ll go back to that one.”

Fair enough.


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