Pics: Ian Morsman
By Jon Couch
AFTER a career spanning 24 years, over 800 senior appearances and 300 goals, there’s not a lot that Jamie Cureton hasn’t experienced on a football pitch.
But, at the tender age of 41, the free-scoring striker actually achieved a career first on Monday – winning his maiden trophy in his debut season in Non-League football.
The wily hitman bagged the first goal in a 2-0 win over Barton Rovers to help fire Farnborough to promotion from the Southern League Central Division play-offs. And he enjoyed it just like it was the first!
“I said to the boys before the game that promotions at any level are very hard to come by, so this means a lot to us all,” said Cureton, enjoying a second dual registration spell at Farnborough from St Albans having left the club for National League side Eastleigh in September.
“It’s a promotion for the club, the management, the fans and the players, it’s a big thing.
“My first year in Non-League has been very different. I’ve played for three different teams, but this is a great way for me to finish.
“I wasn’t sure if I would play out the rest of the season but I knew if I came back here and did the business then I would play the majority of the games. It worked out well, I played seven games, scored a few goals and played a part in them winning promotion. It means a great deal to me.”
As Cureton spoke, he was being mobbed by a new army of young fans in a crowd of 1,084, all clambering for a picture with the town’s latest hero.
Fitting really, as Farnborough are a club who haven’t had much to shout about over the years. Successive relegations from Conference South – one on the pitch and one off it due to financial irregularities – have seen the once proud top-flight club plummet to the depths of Step 4 with crowds expressing their displeasure by staying away.
Slowly but surely, however, the Hampshire club have found their feet and after a successful and turmoil-free season under manager and former owner Spencer Day, the club are now heading back in the right direction.
“The club’s had its downward spiral over the years but now, fortunately, it’s back on the up,” added Cureton, who scored 15 goals in 17 games for Boro over the two spells.
“It was important to go up this year as, looking at the facilities, it’s a Conference club.
“The first hurdle is always the most important, we were one of the favourites so the pressure was on, but we’ve managed to handle that. We’ve proved that we are the second best team in the league, we’ve played really well in the play-offs and we’ve deserved it.
“The owners are running the club well, I’ve really enjoyed it – it’s a great club to be at. Hopefully now this will be a springboard for bigger and better things and the club can kick on, win another promotion and try and get up to the Conference.”
While Cureton is still banging the goals in at Cherrywood Road, his influence is also rubbing off on his young strike partner Perry Coles, whose clincher on Monday took his goal tally to 23 from 34 appearances this season.
“If I can come in and help the team and the players around that then I feel I’m doing my job,”?Cureton added.
“Perry is only a young lad, he’s scored a lot of goals here and has got a bright future, so hopefully me coming in has helped him a little bit.”
So, what about the future? Can the man who never seems to age soldier on for another season and beyond? You bet he can!
“I do have another 12 months at St Albans so I’ll enjoy my summer now and see what comes up,” he concluded with a smile.
“I’ve enjoyed my first year in Non-League and I intend to keep playing as long as possible. If I feel I’m doing the business for a club and not letting people down, especially myself, then I’ll keep playing as long as I can.”
JAMIE CURETON IN NUMBERS
41 – Jamie Cureton’s age
17 – The number of different clubs he has played for in his senior career
24 – Years in football since making his debut for Norwich in 1993
644 – Number of Football League appearances
292 – Number of Football League goals
3 – Caps for England Under 18s in 1993
2 – Number of promotions won (Reading 2001-02, Queens Park Rangers 2003-04)
1,275,000 – The amount of money (in pounds) known to have been spent on his services (Norwich £825,000, Reading £250,000, Bristol Rovers £200,000)
0.35 – Goals per game average in the Football League
38 – Non-League appearances in 2016-17 (17 Farnborough, 14 St Albans, 7 Eastleigh)
20 Goals in 2016-17, 15 Farnborough, 4 St Albans, 1 Eastleigh)
1 – Trophy won in Non-League