Hadleigh United’s Darren Moyes enjoying FA Vase magic

Darren Moyes of Hadleigh United

Darren Moyes of Hadleigh United

DARREN Moyes had heard all about the magic of the FA Vase – and now he is experiencing it at first hand.

But the goalkeeper admitted that “never in a million years” did he expect to be involved in the later stages of this season’s competition.

But two shoulder injuries combined to thrust the 33-year-old last line of defence into the spotlight with Hadleigh United.

Moyes left Whitton United in the summer to sign for fellow Thurlow Nunn League First Division side Brightlingsea Regent.

He injured a shoulder in pre-season and by the time he was fit to return Dan Beeson, who was brought into replace him, was playing a pivotal role in the side’s success.

However, it was a shoulder injury to Hadleigh keeper Dan Heath that saw manager Stuart Crawford sign Moyes on a short-term loan.

Moyes said: “I came on loan for four games and in the fourth game I aggravated my shoulder.

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“I never actually went back to Brightlingsea, and I didn’t play again until I was ready and contacted Stuart Crawford and said I would like to come back.

“I came back on Boxing Day and was given the nod by Stuart straight away and the performances I put in were good enough to keep the shirt.”

When Ryman League Premier Division Leiston came calling, Crawford was happy to allow Heath to go on loan to Victory Road for two months with a view to a permanent move.

Bury St Edmunds-born Moyes played in both the 1-0 fourth round proper win at AFC Emley and then the 2-1 win at Ampthill Town in the fifth round proper the following week.

He rated those as the biggest matches he has ever appeared in – more so than winning the Suffolk Senior Cup with Whitton United at Portman Road in each of the last two seasons.

“The matches at Emley and at Ampthill were both incredible – it was a great experience to travel away from home and win in front of a big crowd like that.

“The match at Emley was bigger than playing at Portman Road and Ampthill was then bigger than Emley.”

Moyes now knows exactly what good friend and former Cornard United and Whitton United team-mate Simon Hyde, meant when he talked about the FA Vase being so special.

Hyde spent eight years at AFC Sudbury and was involved in all three finals, being an unused substitute in 2003 and playing in both 2004 and 2005.

“I travelled to matches with Simon a lot and he spoke about the great weekends away and having now experienced it myself it is amazing to get to the later stages of the Vase.

“I never thought in a million years I would have the opportunity to reach the later stages of a competition like this and it is a delight to be a part of it.”

Ironically, Moyes then injured his other shoulder attempting to save a penalty against Brantham Athletic in the match following the win at Ampthill, leading to Crawford recalling Heath from his loan spell.

Heath played in Saturday’s last-gasp 2-1 league victory over Norwich United, but with Moyes fit enough to return, Crawford has a selection dilemma on his hands as to who will wear the No.1 shirt at Tunbridge Wells in Saturday’s quarter-final tie.

Moyes, who has been undergoing physiotherapy for tendinitis in both shoulders, is not getting ahead of himself and dreaming of a Wembley appearance to cap off a remarkable season.

“I can’t think that far ahead – I am just taking it one round at a time. If we all play to the best of our ability we have got a good chance of getting through. We just have to deal with what is in front of us.”

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