Calver admits he has mellowed with age

NEIL Calver admits he has mellowed with age.

The 30-year-old midfielder, who has a reputation as one of the hardest men in local non-league circles, has received more bookings than he cares to remember during a so far colourful – and successful – career.

Calver is currently a key component of the team at Leiston, who are leading Ryman League Division One North in their first season following promotion from the Ridgeons League Premier Division.

He said: “As a youngster I always played with my brother, who was four years older than me, and his mates so I had to look after myself.

“Then at the age of 16 I played for Felixstowe alongside Dean Barker and Nicky Guyon.”

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Barker, who later played in the Sudbury Town side that reached the FA Vase final at Wembley in 1989, was a tough-tackling midfielder whose mere presence on the pitch could intimidate opponents, but he was also a fine footballer to boot.

And while you don’t play for sides like AFC Sudbury and Leiston without being a good footballer for as long as Calver has, the player’s reputation as a hard man still goes before him.

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But he admitted: “I think I have calmed down over the last two or three years.

“When you are younger you see the ball there and go in for it when perhaps you shouldn’t do so, but I used to go in anyway.

“There was a spell one season where I got targeted by referees. Once you get a reputation you are going to, but I think I have never been a malicious or dirty player, but I do go in hard because if you don’t you get hurt yourself.

“My worst season was when I was at AFC Sudbury and I was summoned to Soho Square to see the FA. I had received 20 yellow cards at the time, and ended the season with 24 – which was about one every three games – as I played in the majority of the games that season.”

But his wholehearted and committed approach has served Calver well on the pitch, and he said he will continue to play as he always has done.

“I always give 110 per cent. I am not the most technically gifted player, but I always give 110 per cent and do a lot of the dirty work for the team as I don’t tend to get forward that much.”

Calver, who has just served a ban for five bookings, and Leiston are in Ryman League action at Harlow tomorrow.

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