Pic: Andy Nunn
HE finished last season playing in the Herefordshire Supercraft Sunday League and this summer he’s been on a coaching course with Peter Crouch.
Now Stuart Fleetwood is looking forward to getting back among the goals at Bath City.
The 30-year-old former Charlton Athletic, Forest Green and Luton striker left Sutton United in April after agreeing with boss Paul Doswell that travelling from his Gloucester home to sit on the bench wasn’t right for either party.
But, instead of twiddling his thumbs as the season wound down, Fleetwood paid his weekly fiver to play for Rosey Athletic, run by mate Tom Cutler, and have some fun on the pitch again.
“I put out a message on Facebook asking if anyone needed a ringer,” Fleetwood told The NLP. “I think my mate thought I was joking but I said, ‘No, I’ll come and play’ and I signed my Herefordshire Sunday League forms.
“It was a bit strange paying £5 to play. I asked what I needed and I had to take my own socks at times. He even asked me to wash the kit once, but you have to draw the line somewhere!
“I enjoyed it, though. We won my first game 12-0, so that was nice. I think a few Hereford fans recognised me and one week a referee said, ‘You look like that Stuart Fleetwood’.
“I just thought he was having a laugh. Then, later on, he said, ‘Oh, it actually is you!’ I played four or five games and scored a few goals, so it was good.”
Fleetwood has also been looking to life after playing and has just completed an eight-day residential UEFA B licence course with the Football Association of Wales.
He was alongside some well-known faces, including Stoke City pair Crouch and Ryan Shawcross, former Sunderland defender Titus Bramble and the former Spurs and Egypt striker Mido.
“It’s very intense,” Fleetwood said. “At first, everyone was really quiet, but you’re all together for eight days and staying over in a hotel. So, after a while, everyone’s getting along together. I’ve made some good friends.
“For the first drill, I was paired up with Peter Crouch. It’s good because you give your opinion and he gives his opinion on different things. He was as you expect and just one of the lads.
“I’ve got a few years left playing yet, but it’s definitely something I want to go into. More coaching than management and more with children – they seem to listen!”
For now, there’s plenty of life – and goals – left in his legs and the Romans have swooped. With a National League South winners’ medal from Eastleigh and 36 appearances in Sutton’s title-winning campaign last year, it’s a league he knows well.
“I always said I didn’t want to sign for a club who weren’t looking to achieve and they want to push for the play-offs,” he said. “I know a few of their players from playing against them and they’ve always been tough.
“There are some good players in this league. You look at Sutton last year, with the likes of Craig Eastmond and Nicky Bailey, and the players at Ebbsfleet, too. It’s a good league and sometimes I don’t think it gets enough credit.”