EMERGENCY centre back Ben Wood is hoping to secure a return to East Thurrock United after stepping into the breach and helping secure two wins from two at the start of the new season.
Former skipper Wood was drafted back in by Rocks manager John Coventry on the eve of the campaign a week ago, after club captain Steve Sheehan left for Billericay Town.
And the now 36-year-old has excelled, playing 90 minutes in both 1-0 wins against AFC Hornchurch and East Thurrock and he is likely to play again tomorrow, against Wingate & Finchley.
“I wanted to keep myself fit and I did some pre-season training with the team in the run-up to this season,” said the veteran defender. “Last Friday I sent Covo a good luck message and he called and asked if I was available after Nutsy (Sheehan) and Simmo (Nicky Symons) became unavailable. I was going to watch the game the next day so I was more than happy to play.
“I met him at 9am on Saturday and signed the forms and I haven’t looked back really.”
Wood has slotted in alongside Simon Peddie seamlessly and says he has enjoyed every minute since his return, and is hoping to extend that stay until the end of the season.
“It was my first competitive football (against Hornchurch) for about 18 months so I was thrown in the deep end a bit, but I thought I did quite well.
“I am discussing a permanent move with the manager and that would be great. I love the club and think I can still contribute.
“It is great to be part of the team again and now I am there I want to stay there. I won’t pretend it isn’t hard work. There are a lot of new guys there and it makes me feel even older, but they are a really good bunch.”
But there was little time to celebrate after Rocks’ win against Canvey on Tuesday, as Wood headed straight to London, where he works as a firefighter.
“I was due to start work in Bethnal Green at 8pm, but I got some cover and I am grateful for that. After the match I went straight there and worked through the night. We didn’t have any call-outs so I knocked off at 9.30am and got some rest.”
Wood left East Thurrock in August 2011 after three years with the club, but returned for the second half of the 2011-12 season, after Coventry called in another favour from the man he describes as “the best signing I have ever made”.
“Covo told me he wanted to install a bit of a stricter regime at the club and that was part of the reason I decided to leave, as it wouldn’t have worked alongside my schedule,” Wood said.
“I came back over part way through the year in 2012-13 to help Covo out and ended up playing on until the end of the season. With injuries and suspensions they were short and needed some help.
“Then I had a year out because of my shift changes in the fire brigade and it made it very difficult to get to games.”
WINGATE & Finchley will provide a real challenge to East Thurrock United this weekend, after their reprieve at the end of last season.
Both club’s fortunes were intertwined on the final day last year, with Rocks’ win relegating Wingate to the Ryman North on goal difference, despite their 5-0 win over Billericay. However Worksop Town’s resignation from the Northern League ensured the Blues were safe from the drop and they are keen not to endure a repeat of that drama.
A win and loss later, Wingate are the league’s high scorers with seven goals from two matches with a former Thurrock hotshot leading the charge. David Knight, who netted 37 goals for Fleet last year, has scored three of those goals and will need to be kept quiet if Rocks are to make it three wins in a row.
Fellow new additions Rob Laney and Nico Muir have also been in the goals in pre-season and will pose the Rocks’ clean sheet tally a real test tomorrow.
However, they have also conceded five goals in two games – the joint most for a team inside the top 20 with Rocks’ likely to get some joy against a leaky defence.