10 players you probably didn’t know were playing non-league football

Quick Reads

When a player drops down from the Premier League, their visibility can begin to fade like Marty McFly’s family photo in Back to the Future.

We spot their name in the occasional Football League round-up, then they’re down in a lower division, and eventually they’ve slipped so far into non-league that we haven’t even heard of the club they represent.

That doesn’t mean they’ve given up, though – far from it. Here are 10 players still very much plugging away below the 92. Some of them very far below.

Jamie Cureton – Bishop’s Stortford

In the 2060s, when the sea levels rise and the earth is virtually uninhabitable, Jamie Cureton will still be playing football.

The veteran, who turns 44 at the end of August, hit double figures in the 2018-19 Isthmian League and opened his account for this season on the opening day. Of course he did.

Cureton made his Premier League debut for Norwich City in 1994, before some of his current team-mates were even born.

Miles Addison – Nuneaton Borough

Addison made his Derby debut at 17 and even earned Premier League minutes for the club under Paul Jewell, but now he finds himself in Nuneaton.

There can’t be too many England Under-21 internationals playing in the Southern Premier, but the centre-back is there, along with former Manchester City academy prospect Curtis Obeng and a load of other players who you probably don’t know.

Mike Williamson – Gateshead

What’s more surprising? Mike Williamson now playing non-league football or Mike Williamson playing more than 150 games for Newcastle.

The centre-back has played more Premier League games for the Magpies than Laurent Robert, Peter Beardsley and Lee Clark, but he had dropped down to non-league within two years of leaving the club.

He’s now player-manager at Gateshead, where his team-mates include former Norwich defender Michael Nelson.

Matt Briggs – Maldon & Tiptree

Briggs was the Premier League’s youngest ever player until Harvey Elliott broke his record in 2019, and the former Fulham left-back was in Guyana’s squad at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

At club level, though, his Premier League days must seem far away. He’s playing in the Isthmian Premier with Maldon & Tiptree, along with former Spurs and Southampton striker Lee Barnard and the brilliantly named Billy Roast.

George Elokobi – Maidstone United

A Premier League player with Wolves, Elokobi started out in non-league and is back there for the 2019-20 season.

The Cameroonian is now on the books of Maidstone United in the National League South, following spells at Colchester and Leyton Orient.

His team-mates in Kent include compatriot Clovis Kamdjo and former Arsenal man Gavin Hoyte.

Sanchez Watt – Wealdstone

Watt is best known for his time as an Asenal youngster, while a loan spell at Leeds United doesn’t seem that long ago.

However, Watt has been gradually dropping down the leagues and is now in the National League South with Wealdstone.

Two years ago, he was sent off for dissent while playing for Hemel Hempstead Town after the referee asked for his name as to book forward, only to think he was taking the piss when he replied: “Watt.”

Jon Stead – Harrogate Town

Harrogate made the National League play-offs in 2018-19, and they’ve strengthened their squad with the addition of former Premier League goalscorer Stead.

The former Blackburn and Sunderland man arrived after suffering relegation out of League Two with Notts County, but four successive double-figure seasons for a league club suggests he’ll do alright in non-league.

It’s a return to Yorkshire for the striker, who began his career at hometown club Huddersfield Town nearly two decades ago.

Ben Turner – Notts County

Turner was a Premier League defender just five years ago, playing 31 games for Cardiff City under Malky Mackay and Ole Gunnar Solskjæer.

However, he’s now down in non-league at the age of 31 after signing with newly-relegated County.

Other players to join the club this summer include Nathan Tyson, a man with more than 100 Football League goals to his name.

Jo Tessem – Hythe & Dibden FC

“Wait, wasn’t Tessem playing in the 90s?” we hear you ask. “He must be about 40 now”.

He’s 47, in fact, and he’s still going, having enjoyed the south coast so much during his time at Southampton that he’s been knocking around the area for the last decade or so.

Hythe & Dibden spent the last season in the Wessex League Division One, the 10th tier of English football, and the Norwegian international – a team-mate of John Obi Mikel at Lyn some 14 years ago – isn’t ready to retire just yet.

Dale Jennings – Runcorn Town

Jennings hit the headlines with a move from Tranmere to Bayern Munich as a teenager but has been back in England since 2013.

After a spell without a club, the winger has been given a new lease on life by Runcorn, playing a handful of games in the 2018-19 season and renewing his deal for the upcoming campaign.

Still just 26, Jennings has spoken publicly of his desire to return to league football.


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