Hayden vows to prove his worth
By his own admission, Matt Hayden was neither physically nor mentally in the right shape to flourish following his move to Mildenhall Town last summer.
On paper, the switch looked to be the perfect fit for both parties.
After all, Hayden was joining his home-town club on the back of a prolific season at Lakenheath, for whom he had scored a combined 79 goals with strike partner Luke Catchpole, who also transferred to Recreation Way.
But, despite getting off to a positive start with a memorable goal against Bury Town in a pre-season friendly, as well as scoring on his competitive debut away at Ipswich Wanderers, Hayden would make just seven appearances in the yellow and black shirt before being moved on by manager Dean Greygoose.
A brief stint at fellow Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Long Melford followed, before he returned to finish the campaign in the sanctity of Lakenheath.
Fast forward 12 months and the 23-year-old is gearing up for another crack at step five with Newmarket Town, where he is determined to make the most of the second chance.
“I went to Mildenhall not in the best shape and did not click with the manager,” said the centre-forward.
“I tended to sulk if things did not go for me. Having scored so many goals at Lakenheath, I thought the step up would be a breeze.
“Fitness-wise I was not in the right shape and there was not much interest in my team-mates, just myself.
“But I am confident things have changed. I have been doing plenty of private fitness work and I feel really sharp.
“I am going to work hard for the team and hopefully that will be rewarded with goals.”
Armed with a fresh outlook, Hayden can now switch his focus to winning matches for the rejuvenated Jockeys, who take on Halstead Town in the FA Cup tomorrow.
The installation of a 3G playing surface at the newly-named Ridgeons Stadium means that he is far from being the only player to have been tempted to link up with Kevin Grainger’s squad.
With that in mind, Hayden is of the belief that a positive season lies ahead, both on a personal and team level.
“I want to be scoring at least 20 goals next season,” he revealed.
“That is a realistic target because of the players behind me that will be supplying the chances.
“We have a really good squad coming together. The new players have added a lot.
“The top six has to be the aim, and then obviously it will be a big bonus if we can improve on that.”