Griffiths heads for Long Melford exit

Football - Long Melford (Black and White) v Braintree Town Reserves. Melford number 10 Jamie Griffiths scores the first goal
Football - Long Melford (Black and White) v Braintree Town Reserves. Melford number 10 Jamie Griffiths scores the first goal

Long Melford’s star striker has headed for pastures new, so now it is time for someone else to step up to the plate.

That is the challenge set by new Long Melford manager Jamie Bradbury following confirmation that Jamie Griffiths had agreed a deal with Isthmian League Premier Division side Needham Market.

A cruciate knee ligament injury sidelined the former Ipswich Town man for the entirety of last term, but prior to that he had been The Villagers’ leading marksman.

Griffiths struck 25 goals during their Thurlow Nunn League First Division-winning campaign in 2014/15, before finding the back of the net a further 31 times the next season.

Melford struggled without their talisman in 2016/17, scoring just 42 goals — lower than any of their divisional rivals.

But with Griffiths having set the example in front of goal over the last three years, Bradbury believes there is scope for others to follow in the hotshot’s footsteps.

“My main message to the lads is that like last season, Griff is not here,” said Bradbury, whose promotion from first-team coach to boss at Stoneylands was confirmed on Monday.

“Now it is time for some of them to step forward, take on the mantle and become a leader like Griff was for us.

“Not only that, the lads can look at Griff and see that this can be a stepping stone.

“Every player wants to play as high as they can, but you have to prove it first.

“Griff’s boots are big ones to fill, but if someone puts themselves forward, you never know what might happen.”

The departing centre-forward, 25, is still someway short of match fitness given that he has spent almost 12 months out of action.

However, providing that he shows no ill effects to the injury, Bradbury is back Griffiths to shine at Step Three with The Marketmen.

“Griff is a superb player — a real goalscorer that is full of confidence and belief,” he added.

“It remains to be seen how he responds physically to the injury, but I am sure he will be fine. If he is, he can be a star for Needham.

“We saw how professionally he carried himself at Melford — we were lucky to have a player like him.

“He is a classy person, one that we are going to miss on and off the pitch.”

n New boss Bradbury reveals his plans for next season following his appointment - page 68