Written By Leigh Bailey
Billericay’s new signing, Lawrie Wilson, announced in mid-July, was one of the first of the new 2019/20 season recruits. Attracted by the commitment of the owners and manager, he took one look at the facilities on offer at New Lodge and decided that he had found the right club for him.
“I’ve had a very warm welcome. I’ve met everybody at the club. The ambition, you can see it for yourself when you look at the pitch and infrastructure. I think the club is going in the right direction, which is why I wanted to be a part of it”, he enthused.
Right-back, Wilson, formerly at Ebbsfleet, enjoyed a successful five years spell at Hertfordshire club, Stevenage, winning two promotions to reach League One in 2010. A step up to Championship side, Charlton Athletic, followed two years later. Making 96 appearances over three seasons, he also featured for Bolton Wanderers and Port Vale.
If he had any doubts, he could always use his lifeline and phone a friend. Unfortunately, part-time football won’t make him a millionaire but, having spent almost the entirety of his stint at Stevenage with Blues skipper, Ronnie Henry, he was well informed about the club. It seems that life at Town got the thumbs up although Wilson is quick to stress that knowing players currently in situ is more a help to settling in than a key factor in whether to join.
With Billericay encountering problems down the flanks last year, Wilson is a key hire to plug a perceived weak point on the right side of the defence. A bright student of the game, currently well advanced on a degree course in sports journalism, Wilson feels able to comfortably slot in as either a conventional full-back, or a wing-back if required.
For the wing-back set-up, he explains: “I understand that role as well. I’ve played it many times in my career. I’m not going to be up and back throughout the whole game but I will know when to go and when not to go. When you’re younger, and you’re playing that role, you try to do everything and can’t actually be in two places at once!”.
Having been a right winger in his Stevenage days, Wilson has already impressed with his crossing prowess in training and reassures that, “For me, it’s very much if I’m in the back four and a defender, it’s clean sheets. If I can assist and support anybody going forward, crosses and stuff, then I’m there as well.” With no goals conceded something of a rarity last season, the ability to help rack up a series of shut out’s is likely to make Wilson a popular man.
Wilson has the advantage of coming from a full-time football environment at Ebbsfleet and was well-prepared to play against both Barking and a QPR X1 in warm-up matches. Whilst he admits to regular extra fitness sessions on top of training to stay at a good level, he also takes great care to pursue a dietary regime that works for him as a professional athlete.
He explains, “Personally, I’ve always stayed professional on and off the pitch so it’s very much making sure that you eat the right things. I’ve not eaten meat and I’ve been plant based for about six or seven years now. “I don’t like to class myself as a vegan because, as an athlete, if I need to have something, I’ll have it … but I don’t have these things daily.”
Acknowledging that this lifestyle choice provides real advantages, he highlights the benefits brought by the diet, “The recovery, the get up and go in the morning, any tiredness, things like that, they are things that you learn as you start doing it.”, he adds.
With a crowded program of friendly matches ahead, followed by a Saturday/Tuesday fixture schedule, the powers of recovery of every player are likely to come under stern examination. This also has knock-on implications for the pre-season preparations.
Wilson points out, “Pre-season is going to be huge for a club like ourselves. We have a new team and if you’re playing Saturday/Tuesday every week, then you need to be sure that everything is done in pre-season. Since Tuesday is not going to be a training session, Thursday will be more of a lighter session that you’re preparing for the next game so you need to make sure that you’ve got everything nailed down now in this time.”
With boss, Jamie O’Hara, and assistant manager, Paul Konchesky already advanced on recruitment, and holding a number of team meetings last week, there is every sign that preparations are proceeding apace in terms of plans for the team in the coming weeks.
In terms of how Wilson sees the season progressing, he is optimistic for his new club. An experienced winner of promotion, twice at Stevenage and once at Bolton, Wilson clearly relishes the chance of adding another to his footballing CV at Billericay. As the team builds, arrivals indicate to Wilson that the Blues mean business.
He reflects, “I think that looking at the squad that we’ve got, and the experience that we’ve got, and the youth, I don’t see why not. If we can get a good group, the way we have, and we come together well, I don’t see why we can’t be fighting at the top. The work that the owners and manger have put in to get this team together, and to do the infrastructure that they’ve got at Billericay, I only see this club as going one way.”