Smith aiming to go out with a bang
SOCCER: Paul Smith is set to play his final senior game tonight when Walsham-le-Willows meet Stanton in the final of the Metaltec SIL Omnico Cup at Woodbridge Town (kick-off 7.
By Elvin King
PAUL Smith is set to play his final senior game tonight when Walsham-le-Willows meet Stanton in the final of the Metaltec SIL Omnico Cup at Woodbridge Town (kick-off 7.45pm).
Smith has been one of the top players in local football for two decades and was a star in the Sudbury Town side that reached the FA Vase final in 1989.
He has scored goals for every club he has played for and was considered by many top judges as unlucky not to have enjoyed a professional career.
Now aged 42 he intends to hang up his boots and concentrate on managing. "I plan to still play Sundays, but unless I get talked into changing my mind tonight will be my final senior game," said Smith today.
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He player-managed Walsham to the SIL Senior Division title this season, and would love to go out having achieved a notable double.
"My plan is to stay in charge of Walsham next season, but if another suitable offer comes along I will have to consider it," he added.
"Players have to look to improve themselves, and so do managers. I may not start tonight because of a back knock but I aim to feature at some stage."
Smith has a full squad to select from with flying winger Richard Partridge now fit again. Smith would have brought Steve Miles back from Tamworth to play tonight but the former Ipswich Town and Diss Town player, who was a team mate of Smith's at Woodbridge for a while, has a thigh injury.
"Steve did so well for us earlier in the season. He deserved a chance to play in this showpiece match," added Smith, who is not looking ahead to an epic.
"Not too much football is normally played in local derbies and both sides appear wound-up for this one. It will be 100 mph stuff and may need a strong referee."
Tonight's match is a real family affair with the Mustoe twins keeping goal. Stanton's Danny Musgrove finds himself in opposition to brothers Paul and Matt, while brothers Joe and Mark Moye are in the Walsham squad.
Stanton are the only side to win this cup as a junior side and they are now managed by the man who led them to that trophy – Terry Pearce. He has also played for and managed Walsham.
Stanton: A Mustoe, D Musgrove, D Hazelton, Bray, Manning, Turner, Ross, Shave, Lombordo, Elers, B Hubbard, Gooderham, I Hubbard, Miller, M Hazelton, Dowds.
Walsham-le-Willows: D Mustoe, L Wallis, Crane, J Moye, James, Mayhew, Partridge, M Moye, N Wallis, Smith, P Musgrove, Zarkos, Miller, M Musgrove, Keeble, Bloomfield, Newman, Austin.
Referee: Mr G Apperley.