United all set for a Hayles storm
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Ex-Fulham, Cayman Islands and Jamaica striker Barry Hayles will play for Chesham United next season, at the age of 43
Jim Steele older than Purse. But having seen him already play in the Conference South for Truro City, St Albans and Arlesey, Leese is confident age won’t stop Hayles being a hit in the claret and blue of Chesham.
He said: “We wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of signing Barry if we didn’t think he still had the ability to play and contribute – he wasn’t short of offers.
“He’s still in great shape and loves the game, which is a very important factor. He’s very similar to Darren Purse in that he adds just that bit of know-how and experience to the playing side.
“We struggled during the run-in last season [ Chesham lost six of their last eight games], but when we lost Pursey, followed by Simon Thomas and Danny Talbot, that sort of role matters. We lacked that sort of character, someone who can get your message over to the players.”
It’s a case of second time lucky for Leese, who had Hayles on trial three years ago, but the former Jamaican and Cayman Islands international chose to join St Albans instead on that occasion.
Leese added: “I nearly got Barry a few years ago. Every year he says will be his last, but we will see. He does a lot of coaching already, and he can do as much or as little as he wants with us.”
Leese has also brought striker Brad Wadkins back to the club from Aylesbury and has moved for St Albans midfielder Matt Taylor, and while defender Danny Braithwaite has departed for Royston, the Cheham boss is confident his squad won’t get ripped apart like last summer.
He said: “We were disappointed to lose Brad last time. He was in a bit of a rush to get on with his career and drifted off, but he has matured physically and is ready to play now.
“I’m sure there will be a few more departures, but I am looking to play with a certain philosophy this season, and will be looking to sign a certain type of player.”