When Claridge came calling for Phillips
Michael Phillips has told how he turned down the chance to play for Salisbury boss and former Premier League striker Steve Claridge, writes Craig Tucker.
The pair will meet again when Ashford travel to the Wessex Premier League leaders in the FA Vase quarter-finals on Saturday.
United midfielder Phillips remembers saying no to former Leicester forward Claridge when he was boss of Weymouth in Conference South in 2003-4.
He had seen his Football League career with Gillingham wrecked by a botched knee operation and was attempting to work his way back into the game when Claridge came calling.
Phillips, 33, said: “When I came out of retirement I went on trial at Weymouth and Steve Claridge was the manager.
“Yeovil also looked at me but he wanted to sign me.
“I’d have loved to have gone there but it was too far from home and I didn’t fancy all the travelling, so I turned it down.
“He was a Claridge.
“I don’t know if he’ll remember me. Maybe he will if I score the winning goal.”
Phillips was in the Maidstone side who shocked Salisbury 2-0 in the FA Trophy first round just over three years ago.
The Wiltshire club were top of Conference South and on their way to promotion, with Stones two levels below them in Ryman League Division 1 South.
Claridge’s side are on the way back after going bust in 2014 – but their financial plight was news to Phillips.
He said: “That was a good day, beating them in the FA Trophy.
“I didn’t actually know till a few weeks ago what had happened to them. I thought they were still a Conference club.
“We’ve done well to get this far, whatever happens, but we don’t want to chuck it away now.”