Adam Mills has lifted the lid on why he left Needham Market — claiming his manager took sides with another club when he was accused of spitting at a player, before backing down only after his father got hold of video evidence.
The young striker, who had topped the Marketmen’s goalcharts in the early part of their first ever season at Ryman League Premier level, also claims he sacrificed his Suffolk chances by putting his club over county duty.
But in a statement that was hand delivered to Needham chairman Keith Nunn and later passed to the Free Press through his father, Geoff Mills, the 18-year-old player, who since transferred down a division to Maldon & Tiptree after being transfer listed, claims he will never play under long-serving Suffolk non-League manager Mark Morsley again after the way he was treated.
Morsley was contacted by the Free Press over the course of two separate days about the allegations, which all stemmed from a coming together between Mills and a Staines Town player in Needham’s 2-0 away win on December 8, but refused to comment on behalf of the club on both occasions.
An email purporting to be from Mark Morsley’s company account claimed to outline Needham Market and the manager’s position on the spitting allegation two days after the game on December 10, telling Mills he would be punished by way of the maximum fine that could be imposed under the terms of his contract with Needham, two weeks’ wages, as well as signalling an intention to relegate him down to the reserves squad for the remainder of December as well as January (amounting to eight matches).
Mills, who came through the club’s academy, run at the time by former West Ham, Manchester City, Ipswich Town and Northern Ireland midfielder Kevin Horlock, said in his statement: “Mark’s first email fining and banning me really let me down by believing the other player and manager and he had already made his mind up before he spoke to me. At that point I think I had already made my mind up that I would leave.
I never thought my time at Needham Market would end like this but I think Mark’s actions have made it impossible for me to play for him againAdam Mills
Mills added that, as he was a player who had no representation, he had got his father to do so.
Geoff Mills said he felt, along with his son, it was time to go to the press when he saw Morsley saying the reason for Mills’ departure was due to a ‘recent lack of game time’.
“This was not an accurate account of why he (Adam) refused to play for the first team and why he has now left the club,” said Geoff Mills, referring to Adam’s letter to the chairman.
Entitled ‘Statement from Adam Mills’ and dated December 17, it concluded with the following: “The FA have said to try and resolve it by asking the club to terminate my contract as soon as possible and this is what I would like you to do as I don’t feel the problem can be sorted out.
“I never thought my time at Needham Market would end like this but I think Mark’s actions have made it impossible for me to play for him again; therefore I am asking that Needham Market FC release me from my contract so that I can move on and play football somewhere else.
“Until then I will train and be available for the reserves as per my contract — probably until May, if that is the club’s decision.
“Thank you for taking the time to read this. Yours respectfully, Adam Mills.”
Geoff Mills obtained a full length video of Needham’s league match at Staines Town after the initial punishment was dished out, as a company called Football Exclusives had paid to film it.
He says the footage of the incident surrounding the spitting allegation, which was not reported to the referee until afterwards and then never included in his report, shows enough to back his son’s total denial, though Adam Mills does admit to abusive language towards the player.
Back on the pitch, the Marketmen lost their fourth straight league game on Saturday, 2-1 (Brothers 39), ironically all the defeats coming since Mills’ last appearance. The Marketmen (20th) host Leatherhead (12th), weather permitting, tomorrow (3pm).