FOOTBALL: Cup tie a real 'home' fixture for Haldane
FORMER Port Vale and Bristol Rovers man Lewis Haldane is preparing to take on his new local club for the first time this weekend as Yate Town face Chippenham Town in the FA Cup.
Haldane, 28, who grew up in Trowbridge, was forced to call time on his professional career in October last year after being left with irreparable ankle cartilage damage after suffering a double leg-break playing for Port Vale in August 2011.
But the striker, who is now living in Chippenham, has returned to action with Calor League Division One South & West Yate and says that he’s enjoyed his first taste of non-league football.
“It’s been a lot different to what I’m used to but it’s so nice to be out there having a kickabout with a group of lads again,” said Haldane, who has scored five times in seven appearances so far this season.
“The pitches are totally different - we played at Didcot last weekend and it was like playing on a landfill, with no grass on the pitch at all.
“You also have to get yourself up for games rather than relying on the crowd but it’s great not to have to go in to the treatment room every day anymore because I’m only training once or twice a week.
“I had a few offers from a few Conference South clubs in the summer but Ricky Hulbert, who’s one of my best mates, was going to Yate and it also fitted in with my work.
“At the moment, I’m doing a few bits for the chairman (Colin Pick), who runs a lorry components company, but I really want to try and set up some kind of coaching school one day.
“I’ve been really enjoying it so far and it’s great because six months ago, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to play again – just walking around was hurting me.
“At the moment, sometimes my ankle hurts and sometimes it doesn’t so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got no idea how long this is going to last.
“I’ve had to adapt my game a bit because I’m nowhere near as quick as I used to be but it’s been interesting to watch the game a bit more and wait for the ball to come to you.”
Haldane broke into the pro game in 2002 when he was snapped up by Bristol Rovers after starring for Trowbridge Town as a 17-year-old.
The Wiltshire man played in Rovers’ League One play-off final victory over Shrewsbury Town in 2007.
He added: “I’ve never played against Chippenham before. I know who a few of their players are and I’m sure they’ll be a pretty good side.
“I don’t think that there’s too much of a difference between our league and the one above though and hopefully we can get a good result.
“Maybe I’ll end up getting a bit of stick from the Chippenham supporters when I’m out and about.”
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