Twenty years of playing experience has been added to the Eastbourne Borough coaching staff after club stalwart Darren Baker made the move from player to trainer last week.
The Eastbourne Borough veteran was in the dugout and putting the team through their paces at the home clash with Eastleigh on Saturday after making the decision to put his playing career to one side to move in a different direction.
The 37-year-old has spent most of this season watching from the sidelines as he suffers with a niggling foot injury and, after a talk with boss Tommy Widdrington, admitted he didn’t feel he was in a position to continue to play first-team football for the Sports.
Baker hasn’t hung up his boots completely though and the club retain his playing registration, meaning the possibility of him adding to the incredible 951 appearances he’s already made in a Borough shirt is still alive.
The defender said, “As I have got older, I have noticed that it takes longer for my body to recover these days, to get over injuries.
“Then, when you think you are fit, the injury can flare up again in training or playing.
“After such a long career, I do not want to do myself, or the club, an injustice with my performances.
“It also makes it difficult for ‘the gaffer’ to plan when it’s often unclear how long my recover may take.”
Baker admits the decision wasn’t easy though. Making his debut over 20 years ago for Langney Sports Club, Baker has since become a staple in the Eastbourne Borough starting line-up over the past two decades.
However, at the start of his 20th season for the club, Baker revealed there was a distinct increase in the focus on fitness at the club and, while he felt he was up to it, injury scuppered his chances of another complete season at Priory Lane.
He said, “Facing a winding down in your playing career was difficult and it took some time to approach ’the gaffer’.
“However, I was pleased with the conversation and delighted with the outcome.
“I had no desire to go anywhere else and this club, the people within it are exactly right for me to start down the coaching road.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
Eastbourne Borough boss Tommy Widdrington gave his backing to Baker, saying, “Darren has a wealth of playing experience and his knowledge and history at this club is priceless.
“I’m delighted to have Darren onboard.”