Jamie Cureton helping the next generation of Bishop's Stortford strikers as club prepares for Isthmian League, Premier Division opener against Bognor Regis Town
Jamie Cureton bade farewell to Bishop's Stortford but is determined to keep the goalscoring future of the club in safe hands as the club begins the 2020-21 season this Saturday (September 19) at home to Bognor Regis Town (3pm).
The evergreen striker, 45, boasts remarkable longevity in the English game and moved to Essex Senior League side Enfield – who are Blues' tenants – this summer.
But his presence at Stortford remains visible as academy coach as the former player-manager disseminates his goalscoring expertise shown at Bristol Rovers, Reading and Norwich to the next generation.
The striker bagged over 40 goals in two seasons with Blues – and went past 1,000 games during his time there – but club secretary Fred Plume reckons his influence will lead to no shortage of firepower in the future.
"Jamie's remarkable to still be playing at 45, and while he's going to play for Enfield it's great to still have him around," said Plume, 66, whose club are one of 228 Isthmian, Southern and Northern Premier League teams to benefit from GVC Holdings' launch of grassroots sports investment programme Pitching In.
"He's a really, really nice fella but the manager made a decision that he couldn't build his team around a 45-year-old.
"He had a long discussion with Steve [Smith, owner and manager] and he couldn't guarantee him a place every week. He wants to play, so good luck to him and I think he'll do very well.
"He still runs our academy and it's brilliant for the young lads to have him around – last year he was still scoring goals that other people in our league couldn't score, and two seasons ago he was the golden boot winner.
"You can't teach it – if you're a scorer, you're a scorer, and Jamie just keeps himself so fit.
"He's just got a natural fitness and natural movement, and all those things you need to be successful at clubs like Norwich and wherever else he's been.
"Wherever he went, he's been very popular and has done remarkably to keep playing."
Plume and Cureton know the non-League game is the lifeblood of English football, with Pitching In's flagship partnership with Trident League clubs promoting and supporting grassroots sport after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The multi-million-pound, multi-year investment programme will deliver vital financial assistance and is supplemented by an emphasis on community volunteers pitching in and contributing themselves.
A Pitching In volunteering scheme will be established to help strengthen community ties, with clubs also having the opportunity to apply for grants to ease the financial strain of lockdown.
The abandonment of the 2019-20 season ended a miserable run of form for Stortford, who struggled since Christmas and lay 17th in the Isthmian League, Premier Division table.
But boss Smith has added experience to a previously youthful squad as they prepare to take on Bognor Regis in the first game of the season.
"We want to be competitive – losing became a habit last year and we forgot how to score a goal, so the expectations are to improve after having a turnaround in players," said Plume.
"We've brought some more experienced players in as we were very young last year, and Steve's quietly confident.
"Steve thinks he's got a stronger squad than last year – you'd hope that we can be up near the play-offs, but you just don't know."
* GVC is launching a new multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports and is being launched with a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues - collectively known as The Trident Leagues. For more information visit https://gvc-plc.com/PitchingIn .