Retiring centre Sam Winter says captaining Bishop's Stortford for five years in National League 1 has made him a better man
Sam Winter is looking forward to seeing who replaces him as Bishop’s Stortford captain – and will be cheering them on from the sidelines when fatherhood allows.
The 32-year-old outside centre is retiring from first- and second-team action having been at Silver Leys since the age of 10 and skippered the first XV ever since they got promoted to National League 1 in 2017.
Winter and his wife Joanna became parents three weeks ago following the birth of their little girl Olive.
He said having a young family was one of the reasons he had opted to retire. His decision was also made a little easier when he broke his right arm last May in a post-pandemic friendly against Bury St Edmunds before breaking the same arm in the same place just four months later in a league game against Leeds Tykes.
Winter’s original plan had been to make the Covid-hit 2020-21 campaign his last as captain and then still play in the season that has just finished before stepping away, but now the new skipper will take the reins without him being in the dressing room.
“I took the armband in our first season in Nat 1. I didn’t really think I’d be captain of Stortford, but as I’d been at the club a while I became an option,” said Winter.
“I’m hugely honoured and loved every minute of it. I loved the challenge and the responsibility.
“We’ve had some ups and downs in Nat 1 and I’ve learned a lot about motivating a team and getting through tough periods. I feel I’m a better man for it.
“I’m excited to see who does it next and there are a lot of good options. I think it’s important whoever does it puts their own stamp on it as people lead in different ways.”
Winter could yet play for Stortford again, potentially playing for the thirds, fourths or fifths to allow him to compete alongside some of the club’s talented youngsters and aid their development.
He admits he will miss the camaraderie in the dressing room and the buzz of game day, but he is looking forward to attending some pre-match lunches having only been to one before.
Winter, who is head of operations for an energy company, has lots of happy memories from his time at Stortford, including two promotions and claiming big wins over the likes of Rosslyn Park and Blackheath. He was also honoured to represent England Counties on tours of Romania and Canada in 2015 and 2016.