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Former Thatcham Town defender Gareth Thomas explains decision to leave the club after 15 seasons

The centre-back has been with the Kingfishers since 2002 and has fond memories over the years

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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Former Thatcham Town defender Gareth Thomas explains decision to leave the club after 15 seasons

GARETH Thomas has spoken of his ‘emotional decision’ to leave Thatcham Town after 15 seasons with the club.

The defender announced that he would be leaving the Stacatruc Stadium, where he has been since 2002, to join Bracknell Town.

It was a difficult decision for Thomas to make and he was quick to thank everyone at the club for their continued support throughout his career.

“After committing half my life to the club, my boys being brought up around it, of course it tore at a few heart strings.

“The people behind the scenes welcomed me with open arms all the way till the day I told them it was time to move on and the respect and gratitude I have for them will live long in me.”

Thomas made his debut for the Kingfishers in 2002 and tasted his first promotion success when the club came up from the Wessex League.

He was also part of the Thatcham squad who made history by winning the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium in 2018.

Although he didn’t make the match day squad, he was part of the celebrations in what will always be a special day for the club.

“Although I didn’t play in the final, to see the club I love at the best stadium in the world with 5,000 supporters there, and my son as mascot brought a tear to my eyes.”

During his time at Thatcham, Thomas was captain of the squad and even had a spell as player/manager, something he learnt from.

It made me value and respect the role so much more,” he said. “It was probably too early in my career, but I have no regrets as I stepped in at a turbulent time when the club needed to reset itself.

“It was hard concentrating on being a player and the gaffer because too many thoughts are circling in your head as you are still trying to play at your highest ability.”

Thomas was also thankful for the Kingfishers supporters who have followed him during his career.

He said: “I want to say the pleasure has been mine and my families.

“It has been a truly unforgettable 17-18 years of my life that will stay with me forever and it’s a club that's imprinted in my blood and I hope you have all enjoyed the experience as much as I have.”

Thomas did also spend time with Hungerford Town, before returning to the Stacatruc Stadium and playing in almost every game.

However, injury has caused him to be out of action for a while and he is trying to use this extra time to return to full fitness and get back to playing regularly.

“I have been out for almost a year now, and for someone who has dedicated their life to non-league football for 18 years it was one of the hardest years of my life mentally and physically.

“The mental drain, the depression, the body losing its fitness all hit me like a ton of bricks.”

And having been affected with injury, he believes that players need extra support when they have been forced to stop playing the game.

“The realisation of knowing I won’t play for a year was hard to take and I think this is where I feel players in non-league need mental help aswell as physical assistance.

“The hardest thing for me was to admit it was hurting me mentally,” he said. “Physically it has been tough as I'm still strengthening the ankle and there have been setbacks.”

However, a new challenge awaits Thomas and he is hoping to force his way into the Bracknell Town starting XI, under Bobby Wilkinson.

“My first thoughts are strengthen the ankle and get fit and then I want to force myself into Bobby's thoughts and push myself into the first eleven.

“As soon as I got the call and found out where the club is heading, the infrastructure being put in place it was a no brainer.

“If I can stay fit and give this club two massive seasons then that would put a huge cherry on my non-league career,” he added.

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