Bury Town promotion-winner James Tatham has hung up his boots after an 18-year playing career that saw the striker score 192 career goals.
Tatham was instrumental in helping the Blues gain promotion from the Ridgeons League Premier Division — now named Thurlow Nunn League — to Ryman League Division One North in 2006.
The 35-year-old also played for Mildenhall Town, before ending his playing days at Walsham-le-Willows, where he enjoyed a six-year stay.
“It’s been on the cards for a few years,” said Tatham, who became the second Willows player to retire this month after Trevor Newman. “Since I became 30 I’ve been saying ‘one more season’, but when you are turning up and the enjoyment isn’t there anymore then it’s time to call it a day.
“I’ve got a little girl and I started to wonder whether I could be doing better things with my weekend.”
The striker, who grew up in Dunstable, made his semi-professional debut for Leighton Town and went on to spend a year at Wootton Blue Cross before a career move to Bury saw him sign for Bury Town.
Although the Blues were struggling at the time, he was a key part of the side that slowly turned their fortunes around and went on to bag exactly 100 goals for the club — including 19 in the league when they won promotion in the 2005/06 campaign and also reached the semi-finals of the FA Vase.
Tatham’s former teammate at Bury, Trevor Collins — who went on to be part of the coaching team — hailed the striker’s impact across seven years at Ram Meadow.
“I had the pleasure of playing with ‘Tatts’ in the early years at Bury and was impressed by his attitude and undoubted ability,” said Collins. “He was a major part in helping the club reach the golden age and has been a great example to those around him.”
A brief stint at Mildenhall was followed by another memorable spell at Walsham-le-Willows, with Tatham’s highlight being when he captained the Willows against a strong Ipswich Town side in the Suffolk Premier Cup.
Walsham player/assistant manager Paul Musgrove said: “He’s a character — he’s going to be a big miss on and off the pitch.”
Reflecting on his time in the game, Tatham added: “I’ve been very lucky to have moved to this area and played football — it’s been just fantastic for having good mates and good banter.
“I’ve got to meet some brilliant people and played with some fantastic footballers.”
Walsham — minus Tatham — are back on the road when they travel to FC Clacton tomorrow (3pm) before hosting Gorleston on Wednesday (7.45pm), both in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.
Paul Smith’s side defeated Fakenham Town 3-1 on Saturday, thanks to goals from Andrew Wood, Chris McLaughlin and Ben Cobbold, and lost 1-0 to Ipswich Wanderers on Wednesday.
Mildenhall Town welcome Whitton United to Recreation Way tomorrow (3pm) on the back of a 4-0 defeat at Stanway Rovers and a 3-1 Thurlow Nunn League Red Insure Challenge Cup win over Haverhill Rovers, thanks to goals from Adam Burroughs, Adam Murray and Alex Steed.
Thetford Town host Brantham Athletic tomorrow (3pm), following a 2-1 defeat at Fakenham Town on Wednesday.
Mark Scott’s side — who also travel to Norwich United on Tuesday (7.45pm) — suffered a 4-2 home defeat to Haverhill Rovers on Saturday.