Ryan providing the spark behind title challenge

TRAINEE electrician Ryan Foster is helping to provide the spark that is igniting Dereham Town’s Ridgeons League title challenge.

The slightly-built 21-year-old former Bury Town player joined Dereham at the start of this season from Mildenhall Town and has played a pivotal role in their rise to the top of the Premier Division table.

The Thetford-based midfielder, who was with the Bury Football School at West Suffolk College, played for Bury Town in Division One North of the Ryman League.

Foster, who was a member of the Suffolk side defeated on penalties in the 2006/07 FA County Youth Cup final, said he still had mixed feelings at leaving the club, who last season won promotion to the Premier Division of the Ryman League.

“I do and I don’t have regrets about leaving Bury Town. Richard Wilkins didn’t see me as being strong enough to play at that level, so if I was still there I would be a bit-part player, only playing when they have injuries or suspensions.

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“I would have been in and out of the team and you are only going to get better by playing games regularly.

“Some of my mates are still at the club – Sam Nunn and Scott Chaplin in particular – and I reckon they could make the play-offs this season.”

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Foster had a loan spell at Ridgeons League Premier Division side Woodbridge Town towards the end of 2007 - “I liked the way they were trying to play football but it was too far to travel and was not practical” - and so when he left Bury he signed for Walsham-le-Willows.

“I had a good season at Walsham and then Simon Charlton, who had taken over as manager of Mildenhall Town, came in for me. I still wanted to be a pro and so to play for an ex-professional appealed to me.”

Foster joined Mildenhall at the start of last season and enjoyed life under the former Southampton, Bolton and Norwich defender.

“I would still be there now if he hadn’t left the club. He tried to get every little detail spot on and I really enjoyed playing for him.”

Foster, goalkeeper Shaun Marshall and striker Steve Harley all left Recreation Way following Charlton’s departure and instead signed for Dereham, who will be looking to consolidate their top-of-the-table position when they visit Hadleigh United today.

“I had played against Dereham five or six times and thought they were a good footballing side. I like to get on the ball and I thought coming here would continue to improve me as a player. The club also have a good pitch to play on and nice facilities.”

Despite his diminutive stature - Foster stands just 5ft 8in tall – he still harbours ambitions of playing at a higher level, and hopes his physique will not prevent him from doing so.

“I try to use my body and then opponents have to foul me or they can’t get the ball at all. I know I still need to work on bits and pieces of my game, but that is something I will get with more experience. I would like to think I could play at Blue Square Premier level, or perhaps in Blue Square North or South, in the future.”

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