At the age of 39, Darren Purse is still refusing to hang up his boots. As he enters his 22nd football season, this time with Chesham United of the Southern League Premier Division, it no longer comes without cost to him.
“I have to ice my foot for 15 minutes after every game,” Purse told ‘Get Bucks’ following his move to Chesham.
“Icing the foot is just about war wounds from years of playing football. I had a steroid injection in my toe at the start of the season which I do most years now.
“It is just trying to keep on top of it so I can play as many games as I can for as long as I can. When you get to my age you have to make the sacrifices, so if that means I have to sit down for 15 minutes after games with my foot in a bucket of ice, it is worth it.”
Playing football hasn’t stopped Purse from getting into management. He started coaching the Malcolm Arnold Academy / U18s team in the 2014/15 season and he’s happy with how things have gone so far.
“The last three years have been good. Education wise, the lads got their A-Level results on Thursday and we got some good results from that. From a football point of view, it’s been class, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
In three seasons, Purse has winning the league and a David Joyce trophy to his name. Last season the boys struggled as college work played a part in a disruptive season.
“We won the league first year, and won the cup second year. It’s been a good learning curve for me and it’s been brilliant for the lads.
Throughout those three years, we’ve had a couple of the lads playing for the first team which has been ideal. That’s my aim as a manager, to get them ready for the first team but also, if they’re good enough, to go and see if they can play at a higher level and make a career out of the game.”
One of the main weaknesses of the U18s has been physicality, which Purse has identified since he took charge of the team. But it’s something he is determined to put right this year.
“I’ve been working on the physical side a lot, with the team so far. The first year I started, I wouldn’t say I neglected it, but I wanted to concentrate on the other side of the game, the technical things.
But during that title winning season, the games we lost was a result of the lack of physicality we had.
In pre-season, we’re doing fitness and conditioning circuits with weights, so the lads are slowly starting to build themselves up. When they get back to school, they’ll have their own programmes, which they can go to the gym in their free periods and hopefully it’ll stand them in good stead for the next two years of their career.”
By Hayden Pott.