'I never asked to leave' - Striker Tom Nichols 'sad' not to play 'that one last game' for Crawley Town after leaving to join Gillingham

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‘It’s quite sad how it finished. I never got to play that one last game.’

Those were the words of Tom Nichols after it was revealed he will be joining League Two rivals Gillingham on a permanent deal for an undisclosed fee – believed to be around £60,000.

It was no secret the popular forward was going to be leaving – he has not played since the club received a ‘serious offer’ for him on December 2.

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There was much speculation about where he was going with Colchester United the favourites for a long time but today (Wednesday, December 28) it was revealed the Priestfield Stadium would be his destination.

Tom Nichols (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)Tom Nichols (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Tom Nichols (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
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And the 29-year-old told the Crawley Observer it was ‘strange’ but ‘exciting’ to get the deal over the line.

"It’s a day that’s been coming for a little while as everyone knows,” he said. “It’s a strange one but it’s exciting to get it over the line in the end.

"I knew I wasn’t allowed to play from the Swindon game. I was training as normal that week and I was in the team to play then I got told after training that day that they had accepted an offer for me from another club and I couldn’t play any more.

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"They didn’t want to risk injury and stuff like that. It was a strange one because I wanted to stay fit and keep training and then just waited to get it sorted which has taken up until now.”

And Nichols, who joined the Reds at the start of 2020/21 season, confirmed Gillingham was not the first club in for him. He said: “The club they agreed with initially wasn’t Gillingham but then later it went on they got on in contact with us, I met the manager and liked what he had to say and decided to go there.”

There are rumours and comments on social media saying Nichols did not want to leave the club – and he confirmed that he was looking forward to working with new boss Matty Etherington.

"At the time I was not asking to leave at all,” he revealed. “I was just playing as normal, we had a new manager in charge and was looking forward to that, I never asked to leave.

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“When the club tells you are not going to play anymore and they have accepted an offer for you, I felt I had no other choice. My decision was made for me.

"These things happen. I would have carried on playing until now, I’d always want to play and help the team out but I do understand why they told me I couldn’t [play]. I wasn’t actively looking to leave.

“It’s quite sad how it finished. I never got to play that one last game.”

The fans showed their anger and frustration on social media after the announcement – see story online – and Nichols was full of praise for them.

"The fans have been brilliant with me ever since I joined. It would have been nice to play one more time in front of them. But that’s the way it is. That’s football.”