Claydon still proving a handful

ANDREW Claydon knows what it takes to win the Ridgeons League.

The Norwich United striker was a key member of the all-conquering AFC Sudbury side that won the Premier Division title five years in a row at the start of the Millennium.

He may be 32 now but Claydon is still proving a handful, and will be aiming to make life difficult for former Sudbury team mate David Head and his fellow title-chasing Leiston defenders this afternoon.

And ‘Porky’, as he has been affectionately nicknamed since his childhood, said he has no intention of calling time on his career just yet.

Claydon, who figured in three FA Vase finals for AFC Sudbury, may not be as quick as in his pomp but still retains his enthusiasm for the game and has scored nine goals in 18 appearances so far this season.

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“I plan to keep on playing for as long as I can keep running. I don’t think I will ever lose the desire to play and win – that has always been there for me.

“I just hope I can stay fit, especially now that I am no spring chicken and knocks last longer than they did five or six years ago.

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“I still want to be successful and win something.”

After starting his career with Newmarket, Claydon joined AFC Sudbury at the start of the 2001/01 season and was a major part in the club’s success, scoring 160 goals in 360 appearances plus 12 as a substitute, before leaving in the summer of 2007.

Claydon, who said he played with some “amazing players” in his time at AFC Sudbury, subsequently joined Mildenhall Town, but his stay at Recreation Way was unfulfilled and shortlived.

“I broke a metatarsal and while I was injured there was a change of manager. After that my face didn’t fit, so I ended up moving to Felixstowe & Walton United, where I spent two-and-a-bit seasons.”

It was in the summer of 2009 that Claydon, who still lives in Newmarket, received a call from Norwich United manager Paul Chick.

“Paul called me and several other players based around Newmarket and I spoke to him and agreed to sign. It is a brilliant set up at the club and Paul is a great manager to work with.”

After investing heavily in their squad prior to the start of last season better times were perceived to be ahead for the Planters, but it didn’t go according to plan.

Claydon said: “We had a bad pre-season with injuries and we didn’t start well because we couldn’t put out our best side. Other players then came in and we improved as a team.”

After flirting with relegation Norwich United eventually finished 15th in the Premier Division but also reached the Norfolk Senior Cup final at Carrow Road before losing to Anglian Combination underdogs Mattishall 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time.

Claydon and his colleagues have enjoyed a better start to this campaign, although they are still plagued by inconsistency, and the former chef-turned-postman said: “The younger lads that have been here for a few years have got better and we have added experience to the team and it is a good mix.”

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