Injured player turned taxi driver to aid Hadleigh United’s FA Vase bid

SO DEPLETED was his squad that Hadleigh United manager Stuart Crawford considered coming out of retirement and naming himself on the team sheet for Saturday’s FA Vase tie.

Crawford, who called time on his playing career after snapping the cruciate ligament in his left knee three years ago, faced an injury and unavailability crisis ahead of the third round proper tie at home to Oxhey Jets.

He said: “At one stage I even considered getting my boots on as we were so short of players.

“I was ringing round and waking people up on Saturday morning to see if they could play.”

One of those Crawford called was Sam Banya, a former FA Vase finalist with AFC Sudbury, who has not played competitively for six months.

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“Sam has been getting involved in the dressing room and the boys have responded to his presence, but he is having a cartilage operation in a week’s time and had not played all season,” he said.

“I asked him if he could do a job for us and he said he would, so he started and he did well.”

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Crawford also revealed the lengths that the club went to, in order that new signing Jerrell Layne, could get to the ground.

Layne only made his debut for the Brettsiders as a substitute against Haverhill Rovers in the Red Insure Cup four days earlier.

“Jerrell was working in Ipswich on Saturday and didn’t finish until 3.30pm,” explained Crawford.

“We asked a taxi company if they could pick him up, but they were not keen on doing so as they were concerned who would pay the bill at our end.

“So we sent Kris Rose (Hadleigh’s injured defender) to pick him up and he got him back to the ground and changed so that he could come on five minutes into the second half for Sam!”

Hadleigh won 2-0, snuffing out the threat of Watford-based Oxhey’s 37-goal striker Lewis Putman, to earn a trip to AFC Emley, near Huddersfield in the last 32.

Crawford said centre back Paul Donnelly had Putman “in his pocket”.

“It was a good team performance. They showed their class at times and in the second-half kept the ball, but we defended well.

“I am just pleased we got through on Saturday as I was really struggling for players.”

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