Bury Town’s John Sands believes he could still play professionally

John Sands celebrates after ramming home the equaliser for Bury Town against Leiston in the John Ban

John Sands celebrates after ramming home the equaliser for Bury Town against Leiston in the John Banks Suffolk Premier Cup semi final at Needham Market last week - Credit: Archant

IT IS safe to assume that anyone with a Twitter account name @scoresforfun is not going to be short of self-confidence.

So it comes as no surprise to hear that John Sands predicted he would be the leading scorer in the Ryman League this season, is backing himself to net 40 times by the end of it or, that at the age of 26, still believes he could play professional football.

The Bury Town striker is, indeed, currently the top scorer in the Ryman League Premier Division, after finding the net 22 times this season and bagging 28 goals in 33 appearances prior to today’s home game against Enfield Town.

And, if the word on the grapevine is true, League One side Brentford are showing an interest in Sands, whose two goals in the 2-1 win against Leiston last week booked Bury a return trip to Portman Road in this season’s John Banks Suffolk Premier Cup final.

Sands, who was at Cambridge United as a youngster, came close to signing for the Blue Square Bet Premier side at the start of last season.

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At the time he was on trial from Ridgeons (now Thurlow Nunn) League Premier Division Mildenhall Town, but his hopes of a contract were scuppered by a knee injury, which was reported at the time as tendonitis.

Sands, who scored the winning goal in the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup final two seasons running for Mildenhall, said: “I went from training one hour a week to six hours a day on hard surfaces and in the third week my knee started playing up as I was not used to it. I had it checked out, and it was not actually tendonitis.

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“It was disappointing as I had my heart set on joining Cambridge United, but I picked myself up, went back to Mildenhall and then left to join a great club in Bury Town.

“I initially went on loan to Bury and scored twice in my first game and I scored about six goals during my month there and they wanted to sign me.

“I scored 19 in half a season and said to a few people I think I can be top scorer in the league next year.”

Sands, who has been top scorer at every club he has played at for the whole season, has so far proved true to his word, even though he missed five matches after sustaining a thigh injury against Hendon in only the third match of the season.

“I am top scorer in the league, but I missed five games at the start of the season – I was on the end of a horror tackle and injured my thigh which put me out for several weeks.

“I have done well since moving here – I love scoring goals and I would like at some point to go higher. I have heard there have been a few scouts at games and that there has been interest from Brentford, so it would be nice to get the chance of a trial.

“I believe in myself as a goalscorer and would love to have a chance to prove myself at a higher level.”

At the age of 26 time would not appear to be on his side to make the grade at a professional club, but Sands is not about to give up on his dream.

“I understand that, but I am the fittest I have ever been and if I was training every day with a professional club I would be ten times better.

“I think at 25 or 26 players are in their prime and if you can stay fit you can play for a few good seasons.”

In the meantime Sands, who admitted “I live for football”, is targeting a promotion and cup double with Bury Town, although he acknowledges securing a play-off berth is going to be difficult.

He said: “All we can do is to win as many games as possible. We could have done with beating Concord Rangers a week ago last Tuesday, but were unlucky that a couple of mistakes gave them goals.

“If we do win them we will be right up there as everyone has got to play everyone else and we tend to win against the better teams.

“If only we had a better run at home earlier in the season we would be right up there now in second or third, even in first place, but we are still in with a chance. It will be annoying if we just miss out.”

Sands’ double in the semi-final at Needham Market, after Rhys Henry had put Leiston into the lead, has set up a repeat of last season’s final against Lowestoft Town, their other Ryman Premier rivals from Suffolk.

“I am looking forward to it as I do like to play in front of a big crowd,” said Sands, who scored for Bury in last season’s 4-2 final defeat at Portman Road and is confident of finding the net again.

“I think we have got a great chance. We had a good chance last year, but I don’t think the team last season had the togetherness we have right now. We were missing one or two key players, but if we have everyone fit and play to our best we will win it.”

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