Meet the SIL’s and Bacton United’s very own Ryan Giggs. Simon Borley – a real non-league legend.

Simon Borley (right) is presented a special shirt for making his 500th appearance for Bacton United

Simon Borley (right) is presented a special shirt for making his 500th appearance for Bacton United by club president Keith Miller - Credit: Contributed

Simon Borley has just made his 500th competitive appearance for Touchline SIL club Bacton United ‘89 FC. WILL RIDGARD caught up with the player, who is set to hang up his boots at the end of the season having been part of the furniture at Bacton since the club’s inception in 1989.

Having made his debut as a 17-year-old in Bacton United’s very first game on September 2 1989, a 6-1 win over Woodbridge Town ‘A’, Simon Borley has gone on to reach legendary status at the Suffolk club.

The versatile 41-year-old, who can play in defence and midfield, capped his 500th competitive appearance for the club in a 3-0 defeat to Ufford Sports reserves earlier this month.

Bacton are the only adult club Borley has played for, a feat not to be sniffed at considering players who show such high levels of loyalty and commitment are a rare breed these days.

Since making his debut, Borley has seen a number of changes at the club, with Bacton now having three male adult teams all playing in the Touchline SIL leagues as well as an adult ladies team and eight youth teams.

He first started playing for the first-team (currently in Division two), before stepping down to the reserves (currently in Division four) and then finally playing for the ‘A’ team, who ply their trade in the SIL’s lowest division, six.

As well as providing 25 years of playing commitment to the club, Borley has been heavily involved in a number of roles off the field.

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This season is his seventh as secretary with the fans’ favourite also being part of the committee for several years.

Borley was just a number of individuals at Bacton who fought hard for new changing rooms and facilities after the team had played 20 seasons’-worth of football at St Mary’s playing field in the village.

And in July 2010, Borley and Bacton got their wish as they proudly opened their new facilities at Brickwall Meadow.

“Bacton are a very special club and one that have played a huge part in my life,” said Borley.

“I am very lucky to have had such a long playing career and feel especially thankful that I was able to play three seasons at the new facilities that everyone at the club worked so hard for.”

He continued: “In my time at the club I have made many friends and played alongside some great players.

“I still enjoy playing just as much as I did in the early years but recovering from the aches and pains now seems to take much longer.

“I can’t normally walk until Wednesday nowadays and I’m getting more and more pressure off the missus!”

Two-thousand-and-ten was quite a year for the club as in April of that month, the first-team upset the odds to win the Suffolk FA Junior Cup at Portman Road, beating a host of higher division sides en route to the final before putting in a superb performance on the night to defeat Sudbury Athletic 2-1.

“The Junior Cup brings back some great memories and ones that will live long in memory of every one at the club,” Borley said.

“I wasn’t involved playing then but it gave me immense pride to see the lads win such a great competition in the way they did.”

Perhaps amazingly, considering his 500 league and cup appearances, Borley has never once received a winner’s medal.

“I won promotion after promotion with the first-team but always as runners-up,” laughed Borley.

“For some reason, we’ve never been able to win a league, it’s quite strange really.”

And even when Borley did have a chance to play in and then claim a winner’s medal as the reserve side triumphed in the Suffolk FA Primary Cup in 1999, the full-back was absent due to a holiday in Australia.

“I played in the first three rounds that season but went to Australia before the quarter-finals,” recalls the Bacton stalwart.

“In typical fashion, of course the team went and won that and the semi-final and then the whole thing!”

Borley was presented with a special Bacton United shirt by club president Keith Miller after his milestone appearance emblazoned with “Borley, 500” on, something he greatly appreciated.

“The game wasn’t the most memorable one but I’d just like to thank all the supporters for coming to watch me,” continued Borley, who has spent most of his career at right-back or left-back.

“I felt quite humbled because they normally go and watch the first-team so that was a nice touch.”

As well as having his name and number of appearances made printed on the shirt, the keepsake, which is likely to be hung up in the Borley household for years to come, was signed by a whole host of players, past and present.

One of which was Justin Alexander, who is just 25 appearances short of Borley’s outstanding record.

“Justin’s a lot younger than me so probably will break my record,” declared the full-back.

“Maybe it’s something to do with right-backs!”

Borley has experienced plenty of highs and lows in his career having helped the first-team progress as high as division two before also playing a key part in both the development and fortunes of the reserve side and recently-formed ‘A’ side.

“My most memorable game was a 5-3 win against Wickhambrook in a Bury League Cup match at the new Brickwall facility,” recalls Borley.

“It was the ‘A’ teams and my first match there after 20 years of playing on a playing field and changing in a scout hut so it was just excellent to see what our hard work had led to.”

Putting the team and club first in response to such a question shows what character, togetherness and spirit there is at Bacton United – grassroots football at its best.

Have you got a non-league story? e-mail sport@eadt.co.uk

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