Former Chelsea goalkeeper comes out of retirement to keep clean sheet as Carshalton Athletic claim another win

Experienced goalkeeper Stuart Searle came out of retirement last Saturday as he answered a distress call from Carshalton Athletic.

The Robins faced a goalkeeping crisis before the visit of South Park last weekend, with regular shot-stopper Alex Kozakis injured and the on-loan Billy Bishop recalled by Hampton & Richmond Borough less than a week into his stay at Colston Avenue.

But 37-year old Searle, who last played a competitive first-team match two years ago, dusted off his gloves to keep a clean sheet and help the Robins keep up their Ryman Division One South promotion aspirations with a 1-0 win.

“I wasn’t nervous at the prospect, I just hoped my body wouldn’t let me down,” smiled Searle, who has enjoyed two previous spells at Carshalton before as well as stints at Chelsea, Watford and MK Dons.

“It all happened rather quickly – I received calls from club chairman Paul Dipre and my old Carshalton goalkeeping coach Les Cleevely on the Friday afternoon.

“Thankfully I had the weekend free and, after a little consideration, I was only too happy to help out my old club.”

Searle had previously made more than 350 appearances for Carshalton and this latest one ended with a clean sheet as Tommy Bradford’s 22nd-minute free-kick was enough to separate the two sides.

“The first 15 minutes were quite frenetic but I settled into it after that,” he added.

“It was pleasure playing with a team that wants to pass and move, and I had to make a couple of saves – it was an enjoyable experience.

“But there was an article in the programme that highlighted a match from 15 years ago and my name was in it! It’s a young man’s game and I won’t be making a habit of doing this.”

Searle continues a fruitful coaching career with Chelsea Ladies, plus he managed Met Police Youth to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup earlier this year, but he didn’t rule out returning to the Robins again.

“Carshalton manager Peter Adeniyi’s footballing philosophy is appealing to me, plus the club backs its academy by giving talented youngsters a chance which is fantastic,” he said.

“There is always room for improvement but I was very impressed with the players in front of me on Saturday. I’d be happy to offer my services to the club if there were opportunities in the future.”

Carshalton Athletic and South Park face-off again on Wednesday as the Robins travel to Whitehall Lane for a second round Ryman League Cup tie.

Feature image of Stuart Searle courtesy of Ian Gerrard, with thanks

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