Denzel Gayle
Player Legends 2 of 24

2. Denzel Gayle


Stats: as at 5 Dec 2020
Cray Valley (PM) (2016 - 2020 )
Appearances 162
Goals 41
Penpix Aug 2020
A former Cray Valley youngster, this pacy right sided raider served Erith Town and Erith & Belvedere before returning to The Millers. Long serving 26 year old Denzel contributed 17 goals in the club's SECFL championship winning side 2018/19 and appeared at Wembley in the FA Vase final. A further 6 goals in 29 appearances in the club's first season at step 4 in the Isthmian League before it was null and void.

Interview Nov 2020
As we look forward to emerge from “Lockdown 2” and anticipate the resumption of the season, we continue to focus on at the Club who have made more than 100 first team appearances for the Millers. Richard J Green spoke to Denzel.

Speedy winger Denzel Gayle boasts an impressive record with the Millers, contributing 41 goals in 162 first team appearances - in addition to countless assists. “Could be better” admits Denzel, “I do think I get a lot of chances although I get a lot of assists.”

Denzel grew up watching football in his native Jamaica, eyes focused on the “great Brazilian players of the time. Then along came local heroes Deon Burton, Ricardo ‘Bibi’ Gardner and Ricardo Fuller – superstars who all went on to play in the Premier League.
When we (Jamaica) went on to reach the World Cup in 1998, it was such a big thing in our country – we’d never qualified before. I was five years old and wanted to emulate those players when I was playing in the garden or in the park.
Then you start listening to your Dad and your Uncles who idolised Brazil as a football team, and you see players like Ronaldo with that haircut – I think every child who played football in Jamaica had that haircut – he was the first person outside the Jamaica team that you thought – wow! this guy is a real superstar.”

Moving to England in 2002, the 27 year old who “Purchases Properties for a Property Developer” for a living , scored a free kick when playing in the school playground that his friends described as “’just like Beckham’. Although my dad was a Man United supporter, I didn’t have a clue who David Beckham was. Then he scored that free kick in the World Cup – against Greece I think it was.
I used to go to watch United when they played at Charlton, and also went to Old Trafford once when I was younger. It was magical.”
Denzel started his football journey at the age of 17, playing under James Collins in the Reserves at Erith Town before spending two years at Corinthian – alongside Ashley Sains in the SCEFL.
When Leatherhead came calling in the summer of 2013 Denzel made the move to the Isthmian League Premier club. “I spent pre-season, got signed, and then 10/12 games in I wasn’t getting much game time – 5 minutes here and there, if you even play – and travelling all around the league as well. That wasn’t for me.
So I joined Matt Longhurst at Erith & Belvedere. It was ideal – they were playing at Welling, two minutes away from my house, and I’d just had my daughter Marley. For the first year, everything went well – we had a good little run to the Quarter Finals in the FA Vase. But after one year Matt left and Erith & Belvedere were just going down the drain - they weren’t doing very well – players just wanting to do skills and stuff – and then James (Collins) messaged me and asked me to join him at Cray Valley.
Ash was there, a couple of my friends were going there, so I thought ‘yea, ok James. I’ll come down and do pre-season with you guys’ – and I’ve been there ever since.”

And then Kevin Watson came in to replace Collins – “When James was there, the football was based on counter attack, and you might win a game one or two nil. Now, under Kevin and Kevin (Watson and James), you’re more on the front foot – going for it every game – going for a win. It’s very hard to break down teams who have eleven men behind the ball – us as a team, need to be more patient and not rush, rush, rush if we haven’t scored. We need to stop panicking if we haven’t scored.”

During the 2018/19 Championship run-in, so many games were won with late goals as the team were in pursuit of league leaders Corinthian. “We lost a game to Holland & Blair 3-2 when we probably had 200 chances to win that game, and I think everybody thought that was it. But then the pressure came off – all we could do was win the next game – and see what happens. When you’re top of the league, every game is crunch time. When you’re second, the pressure’s not on you – you just play your game. And then Corinthian dropped the points against Fisher and we went in to that last game. Babs (Francis Babalola) scored that goal, and Gav (Gavin Tomlin) scored his goal and that was it – we won the league, by one point.”

During that 2017/18 season, Denzel was joined at The Artic Stadium by one of his heroes – former Charlton Athletic, and Jamaican international striker Kevin Lisbie.
“I was injured when Kevin first came, and everybody was talking about it. I used to go to The Valley and watch him play so I was like ‘yea, this’ll be wicked’. I remember telling my family back home in Jamaica that I was playing with Kevin Lisbie – and sending back pictures of him in the changing room. His first touch is….well, if you give him a bad ball he makes it into a decent one. He teaches you so much – talks you through the game. It was so good for us to play with someone with that experience – you’ve got to have a lot of respect for someone like that. And the good thing is, there’s no ego about him – even now you can just ring him and get his advice”.

160+ Millers games in less than four seasons reflects well on Denzel’s fitness record. Players of his type would surely be a prime target for crunching tackles or verbal abuse from opposing full backs. “You hear it, but you just ignore it. Some people try putting you off your game – it’s probably because their manager said ‘look, he’s a good player’, so they try and mouth you off. I just laugh it off – most people you’ve played against before, or know from out of football. And when you take them on you’re like ‘come on, you’re not that good’. And when you cross the ball and score a goal it’s like ‘I don’t need to say anything’”.
Most of my injuries have been with my hamstrings – two weeks here and there – nothing much. Might be because of trying to run too fast or not warming up or warming down properly.”

A ‘doting father’, Denzel enjoys spending his weekends with Marley when he’s not playing. “I like taking her out when we haven’t got a game. With football, you can spend seven hours at a game and by the time I come home she’s knackered so I just get her ready for bed and settle her down. So when I don’t have a match, I like to take her out and have a good time with her.”

With matches sure to come thick and fast as the season resumes, Denzel will be hoping those hamstrings hold fast, and maybe a second promotion could be on the cards come Spring.

Updated stats 15th May 2024
Total Apps 289 Goals 65
Season 2023/24 Appearances 45 Goals 7
Season 2022/23 Appearances 44 Goals 7
Season 2021/22 Appearances 38 Goals 10
Season 2020/21 Appearances 12 Goals 2 (covid)
Season 2019/20 Appearances 33 Goals 6 (covid)
Season 2018/19 Appearances 45 Goals 17
Season 2017/18 Appearances 30 Goals 5
Season 2016/17 Appearances 42 Goals 11

Denzel reached 200 games in the play off semi final at Ashford United on 26th April 2022.
Interview - 200 up - May 2022