Dicker: Under-21s get to experience 'dark arts' in Trophy

Albion under-21s face Charlton Athletic on Wednesday evening at The Valley.

By Charlie Hanson • 02 November 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Gary Dicker joined the men's under-21 coaching staff in September.

Men’s under-21 coach Gary Dicker reckons the Papa Johns Trophy is a good chance for our youngsters to get a taste of ‘the dark arts’.

We take on Charlton Athletic tonight in our final Southern Group A match at the Valley, kick-off 7pm.

“It’s a completely different match to a PL2 game,” Dicker said. “It’s a great insight for the players who want to go out on loan to see what it takes. They probably don’t see an awful lot of League One and Two football because it’s not on TV that often.

“They’ll come up against seasoned pros and some good young players so it’s a brilliant competition and it gives them a good chance to show what we’re doing here as well.


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PJT Highlights: Gillingham 3 Albion 2

“Charlton are a massive club. It will be a really good game and they’ve got a new manager in Ben Garner who plays a good brand of football.”

Dicker reckons the exposure to the other side of the game is invaluable.

“You see the dark arts in the Premier League in every game. Can you buy a free-kick? Can you kill some time? There’s a lot of different things, but it’s a huge part of the game.

By Paul Hazlewood
Gary Dicker played for Albion between 2009-2013.

“That’s probably the bit that you don’t see enough of in Premier League 2. But they will be coming up against experienced players who have been around the block who will know what to do in certain situations. That comes with the experience of trying and doing it. Dark arts sounds worse than it is - game management and knowledge is probably a better way of thinking about it.”

The former Albion midfielder has enjoyed being a part of the under-21 set-up since becoming Shannon Ruth’s assistant in September.

“I’ve had a good relationship with Shannon since I came in as the over-age player for the under-21s. Sometimes you just click with people. It’s a cliché, but it’s a situation where you feel like you’ve known them a lot longer than you have. It’s been a smooth process and it’s great to be back with the under-21s.”