STEPHEN Smith believes his move to Bury Town is a step back in the right direction for his football career.
The former Cambridge United midfielder has fallen down the leagues in recent years and even had a spell out of the game after losing his appetite for it.
But the rejuvenated 24-year-old helped Biggleswade Town to the Zamaretto League Division One Central play-offs last season and is now ready to help his new Bury Town team-mates push for promotion from the Ryman League Premier Division.
“Bury have got a good following and I want to be at a club that is moving forward,” said Smith. “I’m really impressed with the way they played after going up a league.
“I didn’t play against them for Biggleswade in the Zamaretto League two seasons ago, but I saw the Suffolk Premier Cup final against Needham Market last season and was impressed with the way they played in the second half.
“I’ve played with the likes of Sam Reed before, so I know the quality of player they have got there.
“To have stepped up a league and got a play-off spot in their first season is testament to the football they play and how the club is run.”
Smith was one of Cambridge United’s brightest prospects after making his debut towards the end of the 2003/2004 season in a League Two encounter at Doncaster Rovers.
However, he did not feature again for 18 months and the U’s slipped out of the Football League.
After forcing his way back into the team, Smith made 40 starts and 26 substitute appearances for United.
He moved on to Cambridge City and then had two spells at Biggleswade Town and a break from football to go travelling.
But after tasting professional football in the Conference, Smith is determined to force his way back up the pyramid.
“I’d love to get back up to that level,” he said. “Towards the end of my time at United, when they made two play-off finals, the manager was looking to bring in experienced players that could get them up into the Football League.
“I knew opportunities would potentially be quite small and the chance came up to go to Cambridge City.
“It started really well there, but it fell away towards the end. I lost a bit of appetite for the game, but Nunny (manager Chris Nunn) gave me a chance at Biggleswade.”
Now, Smith is looking to continue his improving form at Ram Meadow, and is excited about the Blues’ prospects for the coming campaign.
He added:“My first goal is to get a starting place in the team, and there is no reason why we can’t push for the play-offs again or even go one further this time.
“Wilks (manager Richard Wilkins) is bringing in some good players like John Kennedy, who has been there and done it with Histon.”
n Luke Ingram, Dan Hitching and Josh Curry have all agreed terms with Bury Town to remain at Ram Meadow for the 2011/12 season.