Monday, 30 April 2012


One of Ebbsfleet United's unsung heroes stepped into the limelight on the final day of the regular Blue Square Bet Premier season when defender Joe Howe picked up four 'player of the year' awards.  Ranked top of the class by manager Liam Daish, his team-mates, the Fleet Trust and MyFootballClub, the 24-year-old was rightfully recognised for a host of consistent displays which epitomised the Fleet's dogged determination in their first season back at non-league's top table.

To bring a touch of perspective to his trophy haul, it is worth remembering that Howe was not in the Fleet's starting line-up at the start of the season. In October 2010, he wasn't even playing Conference football. Part of the Croydon Athletic side promoted into the Ryman Premier Division, Howe and his team-mates were then left reeling by Mazhar Majeed's role in the cricket spot-fixing scandal which would land the co-owner a prison sentence and eventually force the club to close.

Howe's talents had attracted the attentions of Daish and Ebbsfleet, however, and he earned himself a move to Stonebridge Road. His versatility soon made him an indispensable squad member and after featuring in midfield and at right-back, Howe made the left-back berth his own in the early weeks of the 2011/12 campaign. The rest, as they say, is history...

Firstly, how does it feel to have reached the end of the season?

It feels good to get to the end of the season and have a bit of a rest now. All the boys deserve it, it's been a tough season.

You finished 14th, 13 points clear of the relegation places. Does that represent success for Ebbsfleet?

Yes, it does. People were tipping us to go straight back down and to finish comfortably above relegation is a great achievement.

Being a part-time club in a full-time league: what sort of challenges has that thrown up for you over the last few months?

Having better fitness levels and being able to work with each other every day certainly gives them an advantage.

I get the impression you guys quite enjoy playing the underdog role. Is that fair?

I wouldn't say underdogs, but it's been good when we've beaten a lot of full-time teams.


What's your earliest memory of football?

My dad taking me to watch Charlton when I was very young. Instead of watching the game I just ran up and down the terraces.

Classic stuff. Do you still have a soft spot for the Addicks these days? And who were your footballing heroes growing up?

Yeah, I always look out for their results. It's pleasing that they have won the League One title and are back in the Championship. My footballing hero would probably be Ryan Giggs.

What is the best pre-game meal?  


I personally have two poached eggs on toast, but chicken and pasta would also be best pre-game.

To walk away with four awards at the end-of-season bash - what did that mean to you?


A bit unexpected but obviously delighted! 


Where will they be displayed? 


I really don't know. At the moment they are just on a coffee table in the living room. I will have to make room for them somewhere.

As I recall, you were a very late inclusion for the play-off final a year ago. What are your memories of that day?

Great memories of that day, but sitting on the coach thinking "I'm starting, I'm not starting" was a bit nerve-wracking.

And then taking Derek Duncan's place when he got injured in the warm-up... What on earth was going through your head then?

Well, the gaffer said to me to prepare as if I was starting, but there were a few nerves and bit of excitement.

I bet. Tell us a bit about your journey since leaving Croydon in 2010. Do those days seem a long time ago now?

Winning the Ryman South division in 2010 to being caught up in the cricket scandal which ended with the club being liquidated. But it led me to the Fleet and I haven't looked back since.

Who are your best friends in football? And the best players you've played with and against?

I don't really have a best friend in football. Best player played with: Jason Puncheon. Best player played against: Aaron Lennon.

Liam Daish has been nominated for non-league manager of the season. Why should people vote for your gaffer? 

For the resources he's had, he's done an excellent job in keeping us the division and built a squad that always gives its best.

Are you coming down with Olympic fever yet?


Not really. I tried to get tickets but was unsuccessful like so many others, will just have to watch on it TV.

Team-mate questions: Who's the hard man, who's the joker and who decides what music gets played in the changing-room? 

Hard man: Preston Edwards. Joker: Clint Easton. Ricky Shakes is the DJ. 

Where do you expect to be playing your football next season?


Hopefully Camp Nou haha, but I'd settle for Stonebridge Road.

I heard Pep Guardiola was having you scouted. Too bad, eh... What team should England pick for their first game at Euro 2012? 

Hart, Walker, Ferdinand, Terry, Cole, Lennon, Parker, Gerrard, A Johnson, Rooney, Welbeck. Oxlade-Chamberlain should travel as well.

Rooney's banned for the first two games, so who takes his place? 

Oh yeah, forgot. Ummm.... Crouch.


Finally, you've got one tweet to tell the world about Ebbsfleet United FC. Go...

Great worldwide family club with a fighting spirit.

You can follow @Howe88 on Twitter

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