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

Quick Reads

One of life’s crushing inevitabilities is that time stands still for nobody. This must be galling for professional footballers in those moments where mind starts to outstrip body, especially when trained from adolescence to achieve peak athletic performance.

Therefore, it is not surprising that some Peter Pan players fight against the dying of the light and continue playing lower down the league pyramid. Happily, one of football’s greatest pleasures is seeing a half-remembered name from yesteryear turn up at clubs with names straight from an Orwell novel.

Here, we list 11 players who are still plugging away below the 92.

Ricardo Fuller

Fuller is a legend at Stoke City, scoring 50 goals in six seasons and producing one moment in particular that twisted Martin Laursen’s blood.

Having retired in 2016, the striker returned to play for Nantwich Town in England’s seventh tier in 2019. With dopamine receptors clearly activated by northern market towns, 40-year-old Fuller signed for Hanley Town for the “love of the game” this summer.

Following a script that would bring a tear to a glass eye, Fuller came off the bench to score the winner as Hanley beat Redditch United 3-2 in their FA Cup first qualifying round match in September 2020.

Nacho Novo

Before the summer, the former Rangers man was most recently spotted throwing punches in a street brawl with the enthusiasm of a man following an exclusively Red Bull diet.

However, the Spaniard was proudly announced as the new signing of Bedfordshire side Biggleswade United, who currently compete in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division.

While Novo’s future success at Biggleswade remains to be seen, his continued recovery from a 2018 heart attack suggests he’s already winning.

READ: Guillem Balague, Biggleswade United and the chairman with a hundred jobs

Ross McCormack

McCormack was a Football League stalwart, starring for Cardiff City, Leeds United and Fulham and scoring plenty of goals. He is also the man who thought a faulty electric gate was a reasonable excuse for missing training. And they say footballers are out of touch.

Credibly, McCormack is seemingly out to prove he is indeed a man-of-the-people. After spending time in the exotic climes of Australia and Motherwell, McCormack joined National League side Aldershot Town in September 2020.

Apparently bowled over by signing a man who has played alongside Usain Bolt, Aldershot changed their Twitter bio to, ‘That club that Ross McCormack now plays for…’ demonstrating that opportunism is not exclusively a Premier League trait.

READ: Ross McCormack, the curse of Neil Warnock and the sweetest of ‘f*ck offs’

Darren Carter

For some, Carter’s name is a more evocative name of mid-2000s popular culture than Big Brovaz and Jade Goody.

Turning out for Birmingham City and West Brom, Carter once scored a 20-yard match winning volley against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. Incredibly still only 36, Carter has played for Solihull Moors since 2017.

Far from making fleeting appearances, Carter has racked up 107 appearances for the National League side, scoring 10 goals.

Jamie Cureton

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

Last year, the 44-year-old became the 29th footballer to have played 1,000 senior matches, and he recently became the first player in history to score in the top nine tiers of English football. The Bristolian is currently with Enfield.

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

Matthew Kilgallon

Achieving the impressive feat of being both well-travelled and extremely parochial, Kilgallon has forged a career representing a slew of northern underachievers.

Having spent the last year playing in the Indian Super League, a destination seemingly found by throwing a dart blindfolded at a world map, the Yorkshireman has returned to England to play for Northern Premier League side Buxton.

READ: Matt Kilgallon: Dennis Wise didn’t take a shine to anyone at Leeds United

Dale Jennings

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, signing up for the 2018-19 season and renewing his deal for the following campaign. He has managed 12 appearances for the club.

Still just 27, Jennings has spoken publicly of his desire to return to league football.

Sanchez Watt

Watt is best known for his time at Arsenal and Leeds United which, like most of the early 2010s, feels like something that happened centuries ago.

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

Three 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.”

Jo Tessem

“Wait, wasn’t Tessem playing in the 90s?” we hear you ask. “He must be about 50 now”.

Actually, he’s 48 and still going strong, having enjoyed the myriad attractions of England’s 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 former Norway international – a team-mate of John Obi Mikel at Lyn some 15 years ago – isn’t ready to retire just yet.

George Elokobi

Long before Adama Traore, Elokobi was Molineux’s resident man mountain.

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.

Mike Williamson

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 had dropped down to non-league within two years of leaving the club.

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

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