Players of the decade: 20 non league footballers who tore up the last 10 years

Berkshires player of the decade.
Berkshires player of the decade.

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It’s been a roller coaster of a decade in Berkshire with some incredible matches, stories and moments. The last 10 years has seen the likes of Slough Town and Hungerford Town surge up the Non League Pyramid, Bracknell Town drop to all but the bottom and back up again.

The decade has also brought us some brilliant players. Some who’ve gone on and climbed the divisions themselves, some who’ve been absolute stalwarts and some who shone brightly for a short period of time.

That’s what this piece is all about. Football in Berkshire asked a number of supporters to pick their players and tell us what made them so special. This isn’t an exhaustive list, is mostly Berkshire centric and isn’t in any order other than the one we received them in. If you wish, you can add your own players in the comment area at the bottom of the article.

Related: Wembley, women’s football and the County Cup – A wish list for 2020

For now though, here’s the list in full!

David Tarpey – Maidenhead United 2015 to 2017

Dave Tarpey. Photo: Neil Maskell.

The club’s, and National League South, goal scoring record holder in a season secures Tarps gets my vote. Shay Bottomley

40+ goals in a single season (including many goal of the month contenders) to help Maidenhead win promotion to the National League Premier for the first time. However his goals help keep the Magpies from the drop in season before this too. Fantastic work rate and attitude along with the goal scoring prowess. Dave Malloy

A wonderful player for Maidenhead who was a large reason for Maidenhead’s rise into the National League. 127 games 87 goals. Steve Gabb

Ryan Parsons – Windsor & Eton 2011

Ryan Parsons is my favourite Windsor player ever and is one of the best players I have ever seen. He has always been consistent, a great defender and when he gets forward can whip a decent cross in. Off the pitch he is the most decent person you can ever meet and he makes time to talk to you and speaks to you by name. Some players don’t even know your name sometimes. Just don’t ask him to sing. Paul Smithson

Amy Saunders – Maidenhead United Women for the entirety of the last decade

Amy Saunders. Photo: Darren Woolley /

Maidenhead United Women have had three particular stalwarts in Amy Saunders, Alex Dover and Tina Brett over the past decade but midfielder Saunders edges it as she also acts as MUFCW fixtures secretary in addition to her role as a Magpies In The Community Officer where – amongst other responsibilities – she coordinates the Magpies Matchday Mascot package which gives local youngsters the opportunity to run out with the Men’s First Team at York Road. Amy devotes energy, enthusiasm and attention to everything she does, be it pulling the strings in midfield on a FA Women’s National League match day or organising the half time penalty shoot-out for excitable kids! York Road, Maidenhead United and MUFCW would be a poorer place without irreplaceable Amy! Neil Maskell

Jim Hancock – Woodcote / Stoke Row 2010 to 2017

He was an absolute Trojan, carried the team through games at times. Tough in the tackle, strong in the air. Knowledge of the game was second to none. Proper captain and leader. Andy Bullet

Richard Pacquete – Maidenhead United

He was just an out and out goalscorer in my opinion. Knew where the goal was, and found it with regularity, especially in that season. He scored 20 goals after scoring a few on loan the season before. He was also the reason I went out and bought Football Manager and started him every game without fail (if he wasn’t on international duty!) He also scored at Anfield in the FA Cup, and then two months later joined Maidenhead, so in my eyes ( as a Manchester United fan) this man was already a hero to me. Danny Varsalona

Ian Herring – Hungerford Town 2012 to 2019

Ian Herring. Photo: Phil Cannings.
Ian Herring. Photo: Phil Cannings.

Crucial part of Hungerford‘s promotion winning squads of 2012-13 and 2015-16 when they were promoted to the National League South. His leadership qualities have also helped Hungerford to stabilise and stay in the division. Ciaran Morrison

As a player Ian (popularly know as Spud) always gave 100% in any position including two memorable games as an emergancy keeper!. A natural midfielder with a creative streak who had an eye for a vital goal. Notably a playoff final goal to get Hungerford promption to the National League South. His passion always showed when playing and he was a leader on the ptich. He’s now a very popular manager of Hungerford and is part of the fabric of the club. A top man off the pitch too who always sees the best in people. Easily Hungerford’s player of the decade. Martyn Leach

James Dobson – Slough Town 2014 to 2015 and 2016 to 2018

I’ve picked James Dobson because he had a good work rate and a lovely left foot. If James was playing well, then more often than not, Slough would end up winning the game. He was deployed mainly as a left midfielder, but would also swap flanks to mix things up. His pinpoint crosses would either end up as a goal or a goal scoring opportunity. His most potent weapon was his accuracy from dead ball situations. It was probably his free-kick goal against Sutton United in an FA Cup replay at Arbour Park that helped earn him a move to the Gander Green Lane side. James won two promotions and was top scorer in consecutive seasons, which was exceptional for a midfielder. Add to that the number of assists that he would contribute, and you can see why Slough struggled to score goals after his departure. Scott McNeish

Adam Barnard – Finchampstead, Sandhurst Town and Woodley United

Adam Barnard. Photo: Richard Milam.

Injury may have curtailed the ‘handy ginger b******’s‘ playing career this season but ‘Barney’ was a tough tackling midfield mainstay across three Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One East sides, leading Finchampstead to fourth in 2016/17 – the clubs highest finish in over 10 years – and the same season they were then demoted to the Thames Valley Premier League. As well as his on the field endeavours, he’s pushed heavily over the last two seasons the Nick Markham Memorial Charity Day at Finch in memory of the clubs secretary. Now finding his feet in the dugout at Woodley, we look forward to the next chapter! Tom Canning

Tom Melledew – Thatcham Town – majority of the decade

Tom Melledew. Photo: Neil Graham /

Captain. Leader, Legend. 200+ appearances, many with the armband. A whole hearted midfielder who’d run through brick walls for his team. Not just a grafter but also a player who scored the odd screamer or two. His range of passing was a joy to watch at times, a wingers dream as he’d effortlessly ping 30/40 yarders out wide. Nobody could ever question his commitment to Thatcham Town FC over the years and no better a man to lift the FA Vase trophy on that memorable day at Wembley. Although fist team opportunities have been very limited in recent times he’s still pulling the strings for the development team when required. Tom Melledew. A proper man of Thatcham Town FC. Matt Smith

Chris De Franco – Holyport FC 2016 – present.

Chris De Franco.

Chris (Franco) made over 70 appearances for Flackwell Heath FC and 88 [at the time of submission] for Holyport FC so you could say he is committed to his teams. He was captain for both clubs and brought so much on and off the pitch. He loves his club (Holyport) Putting 100% in every game and barely missing one. With his winning headers and competitiveness, I believe he deserves player of the decade. Sophie Tavender

Paul Strudley – Thatcham Town

Paul Strudley would be goalkeeper of the decade. ‘Strudders’ started and finished the decade as a Kingfisher. Superb shot stopper, brilliant organiser of the defence. He also played a key role in Hungerford Town’s rise through the divisions. Matt Smith

Sam Barratt – Bracknell Town 2011 – 2014

Sam Barratt in Bracknell Town colours. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.
Sam Barratt in Bracknell Town colours. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.

Probably the most talented young player I ever saw playing for Bracknell Town. Right from the moment he broke through to the first team as a 16 year old, scoring on his debut, through to him signing a professional contract with Maidenhead United. For a young player, he was so consistent week in week out, he would grab the games by the scruff of the neck and turn much more experienced defenders inside out again and again. I remember one game where he was clearly ill and had been unusually quiet, with not much time on the clock, he went and picked the ball up on the half way line, got in front of goal scored the winner. He wasn’t just good with his feet, he had, like his brother Tom a terrifically long throw! I really hope the next decade see’s him push on now at Southend United after a long injury. Tom Canning

Warren Harris – Slough Town 2013 to present

Warren Harris. Photo: Philip J.A Benton/

Warren has been with us since 2013, racking up 266 appearances on the right side of midfield and scoring 56 goals. Whose figures would be even better had he not missed a year between 2014 and 2015 with a career threatening knee injury. Warren’s first season might have been the best individually by a Slough player since the days of Steve Thompson. He contributed 18 goals towards our promotion season and swept the board at the end of season awards. It’s testament to his commitment and work rate that he came back from that injury without missing a beat and played a key role in our promotion to the National League South and remains a key player for us at that level. Mark Bailey

Jamie McClurg – Bracknell Town 2015 to 2019

Jamie McClurg. Photo: Neil Graham.
Jamie McClurg. Photo: Neil Graham.

The most consistent player I’ve watched. A midfield general giving absolutely everything in every match and never gave up. It’s can’t be a coincidence that Binfield are having an excellent season now he’s bossing the centre of the park at Hill Farm Lane. Neil Graham

Ian Davies – Binfield, Thatcham Town, Bracknell Town, Woodley United, Ascot United

Binfield FC striker Ian Davies. Photo: Neil Graham.
Binfield FC striker Ian Davies. Photo: Neil Graham.

Natural goalscorer for Binfield amongst others. Doesn’t settle for second best. Ian sets a real example – first one out in training and game warm up, that sort of think. He takes a lot of stick and gives his fair share out. Bloody nice bloke too. Bob Bacon

Adam Cornell – Bracknell Town

Adam Cornell celebrates scoring for Bracknell Town. Photo: Neil Graham.
Adam Cornell celebrates scoring for Bracknell Town. Photo: Neil Graham.

Adam scored consistently scored in seasons I watched him at Bracknell Town. Whoever he was partnering up front, you knew he would come in with the important goals in the big games! Neil Graham

Charley Evans – Woodley United Ladies

Charley Evans. Photo: Woodley United.

Charley joined us from Reading FC Women, and from the first day, she was a great asset to the Woodley United team. Her positive attitude, great ability and 100% attendance to games and training was something that nowadays is rare. Her love for the game and always looking to improve made her a joy to coach and manage. During her time with us, Charley was players player and manager’s player of the year, as well as winning Football in Berkshire Women’s Player of the year. Her versatility saw her play in a number of different positions, back four, right wing and centre midfield. She was a key player to the SRWFL League 1 title a couple years back, scoring a critical and absolute screamer of a goal from a long range which saw us win three points away at the other title contenders, Barton Rovers, as well a number off the line clearances and important challenges to keep a number of clean sheets. Her outstanding season last year, saw her gain a much deserved transfer to Southampton FC Women’s. She is an outstanding player on and off the pitch. Nuno Antunes

Michelle Melia – Bracknell Town, Binfield and S4K Ladies

Binfield Ladies Michelle Melia. Photo: Gary K. Mann
Binfield Ladies Michelle Melia. Photo: Gary K. Mann

Michelle has been a stalwart of Thames Valley Counties Women’s Football League teams over the last decade. A gifted footballer with some brilliant technical ability, Michelle has been an absolute warrior in midfield for the teams she has represented and on top of all that, has the respect of her team mates around her. The sort of player who doesn’t need an armband to exert authority, a player you would want as the backbone in any team. Tom Canning

Harrison Bayley – Thatcham Town, Highmoor Ibis, Binfield and Bracknell Town

Highmoor-IBIS captain Harrison Bailey. Photo: Neil Graham.
Highmoor-IBIS captain Harrison Bailey. Photo: Neil Graham.

Harrison is a true gentleman and a all round nice guy on and off the pitch. He is friendly and approachable and liked by everyone around him. He is skilful and dependable rarely letting his side down. Harrison has held the defensive midfield, centre midfield and even centre half roles over the years I’ve watched him play. He becomes a fan favourite at every club he plays at. Rarely has he needed physio treatment save for one of his first games for Thatcham when he got a nasty cut to his eye but it was quickly patched up and did not scar his smiley, happy face! Mr nice guy, a pro and a legend! Natalie Stearn

Natasha Caswell – Oxford United Ladies 2011 to 2012

A talented midfielder who was equally adept with both feet. She could pick a pass quicker than most and deliver it without causing the receiving player a control problem. A driving force in Oxford United Ladies rise through the leagues to the former WSL set up. Scored 14 from centre mid as Oxford took the southern region premier league by storm. Dave Ward

Agree? Disagree? Who have we missed? You can add your own players in the comment area at the bottom of the article.

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