Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Maidstone United have not played in their home town since 1988 but their exile is due to end this summer when the Stones finally come home to the Gallagher Stadium, which is rapidly developing from a building site into an impressive new football ground.

The man leading them back is player-manager Jay Saunders, who replaced predecessor Andy Ford in the hotseat last March. Saunders had only returned to the club two months earlier, signed by Ford from Kent rivals Margate, and when Ford quit in the midst of a desperate relegation struggle, Saunders was tasked with keeping the Stones in the Ryman Premier Division. He narrowly failed to do so, but convinced the board he was worthy of the job on a permanent basis.

Whether in person or on the phone, Saunders was always available and willing to give interviews. It was no surprise, therefore, when he took up my offer of a twinterview. The first manager to feature here - and hopefully not the last.

Who would be your England captain at Euro 2012?

For me Scotty Parker been outstanding the last few seasons.

Great shout. I hope he gets the armband too. Who's the best manager you've played for and why?

Tough one between Liam Daish or Chris Kinnear. Totally different styles but both very good managers.

Your earliest memory of football?

The first time I played I was about nine at Andy Ford's soccer clinic!!

Not the last time your paths crossed of course. Have you got any sporting passions outside football?

I enjoy watching basketball but mainly just taking my son to football.

Lots of players on Twitter but not many managers. Why did you decide to buck the trend?

Been on it for while but only just started tweeting! Got a lot of friends on it so thought I'd give it a go!

What would happen if one of your players 'did a Tevez' and refused to come off the bench when asked?

Already happened!! At Whitstable this season someone wasn't happy at being on the bench. They never came again!!

Maybe you should give Mancini a call. Who are your best friends in football?

Got a few but probably Greg Oates at Billericay and Paul Booth at Lewes, known them both a long time.

If money was no object, which player would you sign for Maidstone?

Got to be Messi! He is on another planet. Say no more.

I've been asked to throw this one in... Are there any plans to bring back Stones legend Nathan Paul?

I speak to Nathan quite a bit. He is someone I didn't want to lose! So you never know, things change quickly in football.

You're going to be playing on a 3G pitch next season... Are you surprised so many people are still against the idea?

People are always going to be against it, but for me it's a no-brainer for clubs at lower levels. I think a lot of clubs will copy.

Best game you've ever played in?

Probably FA Cup replay for Margate against Leyton Orient. We drew 1-1 away and then beat them 1-0 at home. Great night!

Realistically, are you playing for a play-off spot now?

Until it's impossible then we will keep trying to win it. It's so tight up there, we've just got to keep trying to win our games.

The news has broken mid-twinterview that you've signed Karl Murray. Good player at Woking. Statement of intent to your rivals?

He's a player I've always liked! He will be a big bonus to us for the games remaining and adds a bit more depth to the squad.

What music gets played before Stones games and who's the changing-room DJ?

Bit of a mix. Alex Flisher or Charlie Mitten are in charge but normally some sort of house music.

And finally - you've got one tweet to tell the world about Maidstone United. Go...

Maidstone United are coming home 14th of July!! Be there or be square!!!!!!

You can follow @saundo8 on Twitter

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