Stu retired in October due to a persistent injury to his hamstring and I must admit it seems strange to be playing football without Stu. Quite simply he has always been there, I played with Stu at youth level for Martlesham until at eight years old I gave up because I was too shit. Then there were " sesh's" on The Green involving numerous young lads1 that would go on to play for Playford.
Seven years after quitting organised football Stu enticed me back to join a new youth side, Grange Farm U15. We would regularly be beaten, but for two entertaining season we were high scoring under dogs. Examples of games were 7-5 win, 6-6 draw and 6-7 defeat.
I joined Playford straight from Grange Farm but Stu spent three years at Melton Youth Old Boys culminating in the League Championship in 2001 before moving to his footballing home. He would play 135 games before I took the managerial reigns in 2007. Stu scored 18 goals, his best ever return in front of goal, and played every minute of all 28 games in my first season as manager. I cannot say how this quirk happened especially as I was openly rotating players, but when you have a midfielder scoring that regularly it would been crazy to leave him out. At his height he scored 8 in 6, including a vital goal in the 2-2 draw with Capel Plough. Stu was integral as the club then struggled through three tough seasons avoiding relegation twice before going down at the third attempt! He helped bring through the new younger players as we transitioned and enjoyed some stronger seasons. He then carried on this support and inspired the Reserves, becoming their captain and helping them to a cup final and a division title.
Stu has been superb for the club and for me, on and off the pitch and it seems almost fitting that the next time I see Stu we will be organising a fixture involving Grange Farm FC taking us almost right back to the beginning.
Stu played has played 367 games for the club scoring 95 goals. He was awarded Manger's Player in 2003 and 2005 and voted Player's Player of the Season for the Reserves in 2016. He has an RM2B winners medal from 2018 and a cup runners up medal from 2017.
1 I recall playing those informal matches with or against Stu Goldsmith, Rich Jones, Dan Goldsmith, Neal Goldsmith, Richard Poll, Mark Lillistone, Glenn Wilkinson and Chris Parkin. I'm sure there were many more I cannot recall right now!