When Taimour met Louie...
Our new (but returning) No 10 is a 26-year-old south London barber, proud new Dad and K’s best left-sided goal-threat since Andre McCollin. After his brace at home to Folkestone on 6 October, Taimour Lay loitered in the bar long enough to ask him some questions.
Louie, you’ve obviously played a much higher level than this. What brought you to K’s?
I was Woking in the Conference for the last part of the season. I had left Billericay and had got some game-time here with K’s. It was a strange time in my life because I’d just had my first child and last summer i had offers to play higher but they were all quite far away from where I am in Kennington, south London. And then when Leigh carried on with the job here, I liked what was going on, they wanted to go up and bring good players in.
It must have been great to play in the National League, even if it was for a struggling side...
When I went, Woking had pretty much already been relegated. For me it was about playing higher. I went in, did well, scored. You’re also training full-time, your own levels go up. So I loved it there, great club, great stadium, good players, young team and that was one of the reasons they went down maybe, not enough experience. But I am still 26 so I’d still like to play higher in the future.
But the offers I got on the back of that… the problem was they were far away. A few of my friends were going to Torquay. There was a lot of interest. But going into full-time just after my missus had the baby wasn’t ideal…
What’s your son’s name?
A strong Greek name!
So what do you do for a living outside of football?
My family have got barber shops, one in [Pop] Brixton and one in Tooting. It’s called “London Barberhood”. My cousin and my uncle started it and I then got involved. My cousin taught me to cut hair so I’m in there a few days a week.
Let’s talk male hair fashion. What’s hot and what’s not? Ryan Moss’s top-knot remains a lodestar for all on-trend K’s fans.
Beards are in. We’re in Tooting so we’ve got everything you can imagine, hipsters, locals. It’s a proper local barbers.
I usually associate barber shops with Turkey.
There’s a load of Greek barbers, most Greeks are in north London, though. That’s why I’ve got Mano [Gogonas] down here.
Don’t forget Greek-Cypriot K’s fan Matt Carlin… So do you speak Greek?
Yes. My mum’s Greek and my dad’s got Hispanic roots. I’m 2nd generation. I speak Greek, I speak Spanish, My partner’s Colombian so my son is half.
We’ve picked up since a poor start. What do you think that’s been due to?
Two weeks ago when Jamie Lawrence came in, there was just a complete shift in the mentality of all of us, we just all realised there couldn’t be any complacency, the intensity of the training … the first session he took, I think after 20 minutes we were all dripping in sweat and our lungs were in pieces, we were just like “this is how we need to train to get everyone at it”. And I think the performance today [against Folkestone] showed that. We’ve been training hard. Jamie’s made a big difference. Also the personnel. There’s a few people out, a few who have come in. I think the balance is right and I think we were waiting for an opportunity to play. Personally, I’ve been out for a few weeks because of stupid behaviour of my own …
That red card at Bognor was a bit naughty...
It was silly from me and I got a three-game ban. I’d gone on and… the first step the player had thrown an elbow at me and done it two or three times. For me it was a bad morning out of football [for personal reasons] and it all came to a head.
That’s easy for supporters to forget, isn’t it? But you can see the fans are behind the players?
The fans make the club. We’re playing away in deep Essex or Whitehawk, we appreciate it. You saw it in the celebrations.
On the subject of deep Essex, what was it like at Billericay?
I personally really liked my time there. Again, it was more other things. My son was about to be born, I was travelling into Essex, they were in between full and part-time so I was training three times a week. If you have a midweek game, you’re pretty much there every day of the week.
Some of the boys there are some of my closest friends, Danny Waldren, Leo Chambers who came here, and they’re doing big big things. At this level, people can say what they want about pumping money in, but we won the league and I think they’ll win the Conference South.
You are upfront with Elliott Buchanan. Have you preferred the change to 4-4-2 rather than 4-3-3?
I think it works. Me and Elliott and Leigh had to sit down and talk about the way we’re going to do it and adapt our game. I think me and Elliott, even though we’ve played together two leagues higher, we can be similar in ways but now we’ve got to rotate better, if I sit he plays further forward and we swap. But I can play in different places. I played on the wing at Ricay and at Woking.
The problem here was we didn’t have out and out wingers before. But now we’ve got Shaun Lucien and Fitz. What we were trying to do before was wingbacks or fullbacks providing width, they were supposed to provide that but when you’re that early in the season… well, when you look at our pre-season, I think that’s the main reason we didn’t start great. Our pre-season was just too… if we’d had Jamie Lawrence there in pre-season, we’d have started on fire. And I think we made a lot of changes. Look at the pre-season squad and the team we put out today, there’s not many that were starting…
That’s the manager’s job, he’s seen it and he’s worked on it.
OK, quickfire. What’s your favourite TV programme?
Ballers on Netflix. And Colombian soap operas because of the missus. They call them Telenovelas.
I used to watch “Bellezas Indomables” [“Indomitable Beauties”]...
Ha ha. I’ll look that one up. I can’t get in the house without hearing them on full blast.
Who’s the funniest person in the dressing room?
Tommy [Brewer] is always throwing it about, Macca [Shaun McAuley] is good too.
Who thinks they’re funny but isn’t?
People just can’t get on to Mano’s Greek humour. We share drive-ins. He has me creasing even when he’s not trying to.
Prediction for this season?
And 83% the title?
Yeah! I think the league’s open.. Dorking started well but lost a couple, Margate are good. We’ll get better and stronger…
Finally, what do you make of your song? “He came to us when Dynan joined, Louie Louie/He got a red because he was naughty naughty/He’s a hero in red and white/his goals in Suffolk were dynamite/Theo-pha-nous/Kingstonian’s No 10!” It would be better if you were No9 to be honest...
I might have to tell Elliott to swap shirts!
Thanks for your time, Louie!