Crawley hitman on his boyhood idol

Gavin Tomlin in action at Eastleigh. Picture by James Boardman

Gavin Tomlin in action at Eastleigh. Picture by James Boardman

First published in Sport by

Crawley's exciting new forward has revealed the influence Andrew Cole has had on his career.

Gavin Tomlin has already made an impression on Reds fans after signing for an undisclosed fee from Port Vale.

He scored twice on his full debut in a 3-3 pre-season draw at Eastleigh on Saturday and manager John Gregory has described him as potentially a key player for the season ahead.

Crawley is the 14th club in the career of the 30-year-old Tomlin – Port Vale being the most northerly.

Born in Gillingham, it would have been easy for Tomlin to support one of the big London clubs as a boy.

But his passion is for Newcastle United and one player in particular.

Cole scored a remarkable 68 goals in 85 appearances for Newcastle between 1993 and 1995.

His exploits earned him a move to Manchester United in a £7million deal and he went on to win 15 caps for England.

Cole ended his career with a tally of 187 Premier League goals, placing him second only to Alan Shearer.

Like Shearer, Cole is still revered in the North East – and now also in north Sussex.

Tomlin was just nine years old when Cole signed for Newcastle and the player had a big effect on the impressionable youngster.

He told The Argus: “Andrew Cole is one of the main reasons I started supporting Newcastle as a youngster.

“He was a fantastic goalscorer at that time and scored so many goals for Newcastle.

“He was clinical, left foot, right foot, he was quick, strong and he had ability on the ball.

“He had practically everything. That is why he went to Manchester United so you can say I learned a lot from watching him.”

Tomlin admits he is still learning, even as he approaches his 31st birthday, which falls two days before the Reds’ trip to Sheffield United next month.

He believes Crawley manager John Gregory is the perfect man to take his football education to the next level.

And that is why Tomlin was happy to swap life in the Potteries for a new era at Crawley Town where Gregory has brought in 15 new players during the summer.

Tomlin said: “John Gregory was a massive influence on me coming here.

“We played against Crawley last season. With his philosophy of how he wants to play football, his encouragement of players and his knowledge of the game, he was a big influence. It was an easy decision coming here.

“You can always learn, no matter how old you are there is always something you can learn.

“That is what I am here to do, to try to be the best player I can be.”

Tomlin can play either as a striker or on the wing – and he is happy to fill either role at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.

However, he revealed his preferred position is playing up front, just off a main striker as he did for Crawley alongside Izale McLeod at Eastleigh on Saturday.

He hopes to be able to contribute a lot from that role and help the Reds challenge for a play-off position.

Tomlin said: “My targets are the play-offs, scoring 15 to 20 goals, team of the year. I can’t add anything to that!

“It is going to be really tough in League One.

“With the way football is going with players dropping out of the Premier League to the Championship and out of the Championship to League One, there will be a lot of strong teams in there this season so it will be difficult.

“I’m hoping to get in the play-offs but we have a lot of work to do to get there.

“It is like back to school at the moment, meeting all the new faces, trying to remember names.

“It was kind of strange at first but everyone is settling down as a group and there is great camaraderie between us.”

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