Former Hibernian and Inverness Caledonian star Chris Hogg makes his debut for Needham Market in win at Dereham. He admits non-league has left him ‘pleasantly surprised’

Chris Hogg, left

Chris Hogg, left - Credit: Archant

For someone who has never played non-league football, Chris Hogg admits to being ‘pleasantly surprised’ by what he has seen so far.

The former Ipswich Town, Hibernian and Inverness Caledonian defender joined Ryman League Needham Market this week after almost packing up the game in the summer.

And in his first-ever non-league match he helped the Marketmen to a 1-0 victory at Dereham on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t know what to expect at Dereham, I honestly didn’t,” Hogg said.

“I’d never played a non-league game and hadn’t really taken much notice of non-league.

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“In the summer, Inverness offered me a new deal. I had got back into their first team at the end of last season after injury, but I decided I needed to change things.

“Not accepting Inverness’ deal was a big decision for me, a difficult decision.

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“But it had come to the point where I didn’t want to just take yearly contracts, I’m 28.

“In September I decided to come back to Suffolk and work on other things.

“My wife comes from the area and although I was born in Middlesbrough, obviously having been with Ipswich Town for a while, I have plenty of contacts here too.

“I’ve got a few electrical qualifications and when I went to watch the Ipswich youngsters being coached at the academy, I got talking to Steve Foley.

“He introduced me to Mark Morsley (the Needham Market boss), and we got on great. I’d been missing the game a bit as you do after being involved in it for so long.

“Although quite honestly, if I hadn’t met the pair of them, I don’t think I would be playing now.”

Hogg brings more experience to a Needham side who already boast ex-pros Kem Izzet, Richard Logan and Ian Westlake – their presence in the squad another reason for Hogg to decide to join the Ryman North club at Bloomfields.

A product of Ipswich Town’s youth system, Hogg made a name for himself with an eight-season spell in Scotland, where he played more than 160 league games for Hibs and Inverness. He was captain of Hibs for a while.

But that’s all behind him now and he is looking for new opportunities in his life. Needham Market have helped him in that.

“I must admit in the summer I was a bit negative about football,” he said.

“But I’ve only trained with Needham four or five times and I have a way to go to get back to full fitness. It’s been enjoyable.

“The former pros at the club have been superb and the quality of the rest of the squad is high and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it all.”

Hogg is set to make his home debut for Needham Market against Aveley at Bloomfields on Saturday.

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