In August 2019 Playford held an evening to celebrate twenty years of the club, well technically 21 years as we played our first game in August 1998. The evening's entertainment included inducting the first 20 players into a Playford Hall of Fame. To fill the Hall of Fame I asked current and former players to choose players that they felt were deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame. The vote was totally open so any of the 208 players the club have used could be voted for. I received votes from 39 players, including 23 of the 25 players with over one hundred appearances. I think some players found choosing their players tricky, especially those that have played through multiple periods for the club. 41 different players received votes and that doesn't include nods to Frank Chisholm and rather cheekily John Sparrow, Aaron Warner and Rob Garrard. Players were inducted in no particular order and here they are as they were presented on the night in August:
I do not think the first two inductees will surprise many people. First and third in the all-time appearances chart they have also played a significant role with the Reserves. The first is CHRIS JONES who has been at the club for all it's twenty one seasons of existence. He has played 415 times and scored 58 goals, he was the first to score five in a match back in 2000. He has been managing the club in some capacity since 2007 and founded the Reserve Team in 2013. He currently holds the self-titled role of Player-Director of Football.
The second is JEM VINCE, the oldest outfield player to represent Playford and is still going strong. He has the most medals and awards in the history of Playford, holder of three division winners medals, a cup runners up medal, a Player's Player award and a Manager's Player award. Jem has made 312 appearances and scored 47 goals in nineteen seasons.
The next inductee sneaked up a bit and it wasn't until a late burst of votes that he cemented his place in the hall of fame. It is this Yellow kit I associate with him the most, the kit saw us through our best ever season, winning division 10 in 2000-2001 and although DAVE SALMON was there from match number 2, it's probably because he played in all but one game of the title season. He managed to score five in our dreadful first season playing as the big man to Dan Goldsmith's little man in our strike pairing. He was given the Manager's Player in 2003-2004 and 2005-2006. Dave scored 13 Goals in 194 games.
The next two players to be inducted are two of the most decorated, by their peers, the club has ever had. By that I mean that they are two of the three players that have been voted Player's Player of the Season on three occasions. The first player I brought to club was Haroon Hussain who supposedly had youth experience with Celtic but after five games and an inability to control a football or take a throw-in without jumping in the air he was found out and rapidly jettisoned by the club management and my talent spotting credentials took a massive hit! It wasn't until five years later that I brought another next player to the club. I brought ALEX BRUNT and that decision was infinitely better than my first attempt. He was voted Player's Player of the Season in 2003-2004, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. He made 126 appearances and scored 5 goals.
MARK BULSTRODE played in three games at the end of the 2003-2004 season about 200 minutes, but was still present at the end of season do, perhaps a sign of the loyalty that was to come. Bully did grab a hat trick, something only a hand-full of midfielders have done, scored against Worlingworth in 2013 but it was the two goals against Pauls a month later that were much more impressive. A night match against Pauls and he and Rich Jones looked like they would score from every cross, both of them scoring twice in the first half. That season he ended on 11 goals, collected one of his 3 Player's Player awards and got a winners medal for RM2. He made 189 appearances and scored 44 goals.
Let's talk about goalscorers. It took JAMES HOLLAND only four games to score his first goal. He hit double figures in four of his first five seasons along with an impressive 15 goals in 14 games for the Reserves in 2014-2015, putting him second to James Zebedee for the Player's Player Award that season.
One of my favourite goals of James' was against Felixstowe Harpers Reserves in the Sunday Shield in 2007-2008. We had played much of the second half with 10 men with Mark Busltrode off the field, working from his car phoning in a news story, but we had taken the game to extra time. James had already scored along with Stu Goldsmith. It was during extra time that James had drifted out wide right, he was slightly ahead of me when he collected the ball. Now, the pitch that Harpers play on is huge and after nearly two hours playing I was pretty knackered. Seeing James collect the ball wide on the field and a good 20-25 yards then shoot with the game still on the line I thought it was unbelievably wasteful, so imagine my surprise, joy and relief when it flew into the top left corner of the goal. James bowed out with a goal and an assist in his final game, signing off in style. James made 175 appearances and scored 120 goals. He was given the Manager's Player of the Season Award in 2007-2008 by Chris Jones.
ROSS LEEKS is Playford's all-time leading goalscorer, he has 150 goals to his name, he reached his 150 with a hat trick against The Feathers Reserves. Ross set the record by scoring in ten consecutive games, scoring 16 goals in matches between October 2000 and January 2001. He was given the 2000-2001 Players Player of the Season award and has a division 10 winners medal from the same season. Ross played 215 matches between 1999 and 2015.
NICK BINGHAM is our other three-time Player's Player of the Season. He collected the award for 2010-2011, 2014-2015 and 2016-2017. He joined a struggling Playford side and joined with bang scoring on his debut and hitting an impressive 15 goals in 20 matches. He has been the First Team's leading scorer for six of his ten seasons at the club and has a Division Two winners medal for 2013-2014. Nick has made 178 appearances and scored 129 goals and is the only player credited with more than 50 assists.
The Blue and Black kit came two seasons into my period as manager and coincided with a period of squad change. The club had reached one level below the Premier, the highest it had ever been and we were finding it tough to compete. Players that had got us that high, like Mark Lillistone, Ross, Ian Akers, Neal and Simon were winding down and some of the more experienced replacements we found were not good enough and Rich and I thought we might be struggling to keep the club going. But a chance meeting with Liam Miller, reffing a friendly between us and Melton Veterans, and an email from Andy Cubitt brought us in a number of young players to revitalise the squad; as well as Liam and Andy in two seasons we added Jack Shelcott, Hayden Ellis, Sam Burman, Nick Bingham, Dave Sienet-Martin, Ryan Whitney, Ash King and Jack Lord.
SAM BURMAN was spotted by Chris Jones playing alongside Nick Bingham at Wickham Market Under 18's and was immediately picked out as a brave center back after taking two kicks to the face in one 90 minute outing. Sam has played 121 times scoring 12 goals, he has played in three of the four 0-0 draws in the clubs history.
He was given Rich Jones' Manager's Player of the Season for 2017-2018 and the following season voted Player's Player of the Season. He has a Division Two winners medal for 2013-2014.
As part of the Wickham Market influx ASH KING also joined the club. Starting as a young fullback he was eventually moved into a more attacking role by Rich Jones. Highly versatile as a player Ash even has a cleansheet to his name earned in a cup match against Holbrook Swan Reserves having played eight times in goal. He has made 179 appearances and has scored 34 goals, he was given Rich Jones' Manager's Player of the Season for 2013-2014 along with Kieran Daniels and went on to be voted Player's Player of the Season for 2015-2016. He has a Division Two winners medal for 2013-2014.
Current First Team manager RICH JONES played as soon as he was finished with youth football, turning out at 18 years old against TXU. Once he completed university he was a mainstay in the side, playing first in midfield and then in the center of defence. Rich became captain under Chris in 2008, taking over from Alex Brunt and he took over the penalty taking duties soon after. He is the undisputed penalty king scoring 28 of 31 spot-kicks and has a total of 65 goals for the club. Rich has played 621 times and was voted Player's Player of the Season for 2009-2010. He has a Division Two winners medal for 2013-2014, the season he took over as manager the First Team.
Rich's most regular center back partner was GREG SONGER as they played 73 times together. Greg started as a left back but was later moved into the middle, he became an important player in Playford's toughest seasons and was also captain on a number of occasions. Greg finished on 188 games and scored five goals in his ten years at the club. He was given Chris Jones' Manager's Player of the Season for 2008-2009 and has a Division Two winners medal for 2013-2014.
MARK LILLISTONE was the manager for, what I consider, the second era of the club. A period of change but continued improvement. When he took over in 2004 the club were in division five, when he stood down we had moved up to division three. When I took over from Mark in 2007 I thought he would start to wind down his playing time and it seemed confirmed when that first season was hampered by injury and being in and out of the team. However my second season was a different story, after six weeks of the season he had four goals and was one of the first names on the team sheet. He picked up three Man of the Matches that season and was very close to getting my Manager's Player of the Season. Sadly, Mark was never recognised with any end of season awards, but as Rich, Daryl and myself have all come to find there is something of a manger's curse and you do not get as many man of the match votes as you might expect and are rarely recognised at the end of seasons.Mark played 229 Games and scored 38 Goals and he has a Division 10 winners medal.
There is one surname that is synonymous with Playford and that is Goldsmith, SIMON GOLDSMITH helped found the club twenty one years ago in 1997. He was voted Player's Player of the Season for the first slog of a campaign. Simon played 11 full seasons and made come cameos in a two more. Simon has been the voice and face of Playford throughout their both accidental and deliberate publicity courting endeavours. He has appeared on TalkSport as well as SkySports News to promote the club. Simon played 216 games and scored six goals. He holds the record for playing in the most matches resulting in a cleansheet.
NEAL GOLDSMITH joined Simon for that first season, splitting his time between Playford and university. Neal holds the unique distinction of having played in both the first win for Playford and the first win for the Reserves 15 years later, he scoring in the first win against Finningham Fliers. Neal played 251 times and scored 7 goals, most memorable was his long range effort against Aldeburgh in 1999. Neal was awarded the Player's PLayer of the Season award in 2005-2006 and was Mark Lillistone's final Manager's Player of the Season in 2006-2007.
Then come twin brothers Daniel and STUART GOLDSMITH. Daniel joined the first season, Stu went off and played three years with Melton YOB with whom he collected the League Title in 2000-2001. He then switched to Playford and embarked on 19 seasons with the club and was a highly successful midfielder regularly scoring goals from, first the wing, and then central midfield. Returns of 10, 11 and 18 goals between 2005 and 2008 saw him quickly climb the scoring charts, his 18 in 2007-2008 is a record for a midfielder. He was so important to the club that Chris Jones' first season in charge, 2007-2008, he played every minute of every game, despite a squad rotation policy. He holds the record, at 66, for most consecutive matches played. Stu moved to the Reserves in 2016 and became their captain and lead them to the cup final, earning the Runners Up medal. He was awarded the Manager's Player of the Season in 2002-2003 by Simon Goldsmith and again in 2004-2005 by Mark Lillistone. He finished on 95 goals in 367 games.
Throughout the years Playford have been lucky with their goalkeepers. Clive Burdon dragged us through our first season and Richard Poll became the club's first regular goalkeeper. Rich was succeeded in 2000 by IAN AKERS, that season Ian helped us to the Division 10 title, keeping three clean sheets along the way, in fact until the Cup Semi Final he did not concede more than 3 in a single game that season. He played nine seasons and 212 games, recording a club record 29 clean sheets. He was given the Manager's Player of the Season award for 2001-2002.
After that Ian retired I was worried about what we would do for a goalkeeper, enter ANDY CUBITT. Andy played the next four seasons for the First Team and a fifth for the Reserves before moving away for work, he has continued to make appearances and is about to start his tenth season with Playford. He didn't play enough games for the First Team in 2013-2014 to qualify for a RM2 winners medal, but he did score in their 4-0 win against Ipswich Bulls as well as the equaliser against Murray Rangers to keep the 16-game winning run on track. Andy has played 98 games in goal, keeping 13 clean sheets, including a record seven in a season. He has made a further 12 appearances outfield scoring seven goals, including a hat-trick against Finningham Fliers, only the second player considered a "regular goalkeeper" to do so. He was awarded Chris Jones' Manager's Player of the Season for 2011-2012.
Steve Zebedee became the Reserves Teams first regular goalkeeper at the age of 48 playing 54 games and we have continued our excellent luck with current goalkeepers Sam Reach and Max Juster.
We come to the most recent era of Playford Football Club and the last six years of the Reserves and two players that have predominantly played for that team. DARYL FRANCIS played in the first ever Reserve Team match and a week later scored the first goal by the Reserves. Daryl went on to manage the Reserves between 2016 and 2019, reaching a cup final in the process, the only time a Playford side has reached that stage of a knockout competition. His successful business sponsored the club between 2015 and 2019. He was awarded Max Pryke's Manager's Player of the Season for 2014-2015. Daryl has played 128 times for Playford, the only player to have played more than 100 games for the Reserves. He has scored 37 goals and the Reserve Team leading scorer in 2015-2016 and 2017-2018.
Finally we have BYRON STRETTON, the engine room of the Reserves. He covers so much ground in a game and covers up mistakes for other players, his contribution has not gone unnoticed with 19 Man of the Match awards for the Reserves, almost twice the amount of the next player. Subsequently he has been awarded the Player's Player of the Season in 2016-2017 and again in 2018-2019. He also has a finesse to his game scoring 17 goals and assisting a further 17, an offensive record that sees him fifth all-time for the Reserves. He has played 70 games for Playford and is the current captain of the Reserves.