Claridge glad to be back among the goals

Steve Claridge
Steve Claridge
AFC Portchester take on Dorchester next in the FA Cup. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Steve Claridge has expressed his relief at recovering from a 20-minute horror show to net a debut strike for Gosport Borough.

The veteran former Pompey marksman – who now enjoys a successful media career with the BBC – grabbed the only goal of the game after coming out of retirement for the Privett Park outfit in their FA Trophy success over Sholing.

And the 45-year-old was honest in his assessment of his own performance after taking time to rediscover the old magic.

Claridge smiled: ‘It was a mixed bag. For the first 20 minutes, myself, the manager and everybody watching must have wondered what I was doing out there because it was horrendous.

‘I had the ball six times and gave it away six times.

‘It was one of those days where it was blowing a gale, the sun was in your eyes and it couldn’t have been any worse to play football.

‘I couldn’t find my bearings on the pitch and my first touch was a case of touch then tackle for the first few times I touched it.

‘But the first time I actually got it under control, I scored, which was lovely.

‘I think it was more a case of relief that I had actually managed to control the pass more than anything else!

‘But I went from thinking “what am I doing here? This is crazy,” to coming off at the end having thoroughly enjoyed it.’

It was Claridge’s first competitive game for two years, having last turned out for his former club Weymouth in a game to raise funds for the club.

But the much-travelled striker insists he has not taken on a coaching role at the club and is keen to concentrate on playing for the rest of the season, rather than a short-term arrangement.

He said: ‘I’m not involved in the coaching. If someone wants me to take a session or help the forwards, then I will do it.

‘But I’m not there for that – I don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes or mix roles. I’m just there to play football.

‘They have got Mick Caitlin, who is more than capable of doing the coaching, and with Alex Pike as manager, I’m used to people who are forthright and want to succeed and there’s nothing wrong with that.

‘But I’m looking forward to the next game.

‘It won’t get any harder than that now.’