Former Hibernian star thoroughly enjoying non-league life at Needham Market

Needham Market central defender (Red number 5) Chris Hogg

Needham Market central defender (Red number 5) Chris Hogg - Credit: Archant

Former Hibernian star Chris Hogg is loving life at Ryman North Division promotion hopefuls Needham Market, who travel to Harlow Town in a top-of-the-table league clash tomorrow afternoon.

The former Ipswich Town trainee, who made his name in Scottish professional football, particularly with Hibernian – where he captained them to a 2007 Scottish League Cup triumph, has been part of a Needham side vying for promotion this season.

And Hogg, 29, who joined the Marketmen in January earlier this year after hanging up his professional boots and moving back to the area, is certainly enjoying his spell at Bloomfields after more than 10 years playing in the professional game.

“I’m really enjoying it this season,” declared the Middlesbrough-born centre-half, who was on target in Tuesday night’s 2-0 away win over Waltham Abbey.

“I’d never played or experienced non-league before so it took me a little while to get used to it.

“That was also on the back of not doing much (before signing for Needham) for eight months or so.

“Mentally as well, it took me a little while to get going (Hogg had been considering giving up football completely previously) – but after a settling down period, I am really enjoying it.”

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The vastly-experienced Hogg also confessed that he is impressed with the quality and spirit of his table-topping Needham team-mates, who will look to pull five points clear of second-placed Harlow with victory tomorrow.

“As I said, being at Needham is my first experience of non-league, but I’ve got to say the quality of our players is both pleasing and surprising,” continued Hogg.

“Everyone is really good on the ball, and we play good football – it’s always better when you’re winning games, but I am really enjoying it this season and am doing my best to help the club to promotion.”

Hogg only scored three goals in more than 170 league appearances in his professional career, but this season, has three unforgettable strikes to his name already.

He explains: “The three I have got this year I’ve never scored goals like them!

“I’m normally a five/six-yard tap in sort of guy or a header, but so far this season I’ve scored two from outside the box and one from just inside the box – a neat volley.”

Hogg admits it’s nice to chip in with the odd goal or two, but his priority and job is to help keep the club clean sheets – something he thinks Needham need more of.

“We haven’t had enough clean sheets,” he added.

“I know we’ve had two in our last two games but we do need more.

“That said, we’re scoring plenty of goals (Needham are the joint-leading goalscorers in the league with 46).

“It’s important to share the goals and we’re all looking to do that. Sam (Newson) is on fire, but we need to keep helping him out from defence and attack.”

Before this weekend’s big game, Newson leads the scoring charts with 12 league goals, while Luke Ingram has nine league goals to his name, mostly from right wing-back!

Both players will be looking to get on the score-sheet tomorrow, where the Marketmen’s impressive away record (won eight, lost one) meets an even better Harlow home record (won six, drawn three), on the Hawks’ 3G pitch.

Hogg added: “It should be a good game.

“It’ll be different playing surface than we’re normally used to, and it’ll be a tough test.”

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