CHESHAM United hope Darren Purse’s big-game experience will tip the scales their way if they find themselves in the Southern League play-offs again this season.
The 36-year-old centre back signed for the Generals as player/coach until the end of the season last week, after a professional career spanning nearly 700 games for nine different clubs.
Purse, who has been to the final of the League Cup and FA Cup as a player, had been training at Oxford when Chesham boss Andy Leese took a punt.
He said: “I didn’t think for one minute a few weeks ago we’d get close to a deal of this sort.
“But I always believe in exploring every opportunity so I picked up the phone and didn’t get knocked back.
“I expected him to say, ‘who the hell are Chesham’, but he knew what level we’re at and what we’re about.
“The fact that we’re pushing for promotion was a big plus for us, but it was all about timing and it’s come together nicely in the last few weeks.”
Purse has a wealth of experience having played for the likes of Cardiff City, Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday.
He made his Chesham debut last Saturday and has already made his presence felt at The Meadow.
Leese said: “He’s a leader, he’s been captain at most of the clubs he played for and there is a reason for that.
“He’s got experience of the top, top level in this country and I want that to rub off on the players, whether that is in the way he prepares for games or in his performance, and he’s worked under some very experienced managers so I’d expect him to have an influence on the training ground.
“We’ve got him until the end of the season and then we’ll review it, but it was an opportunity too good to miss.”
The deal continued an almost perfect fortnight for the club.
For the second Saturday running they won while Southern League Premier leaders Hemel Hempstead lost, meaning Chesham have now taken six points out of their lead in the last two games.
They beat AFC Totton 2-0 away thanks to goals from James Potten and Drew Roberts, while Hemel slipped at home to Frome.
Leese said: “There is always a little bit of a lift at 5pm when one or two other results haven’t gone as expected.
“But we’ve just got to keep taking care of our business.
“There will be lots of twists and turns and we’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Tonight they take on Aylesbury in the semi-final of Bucks Cup, with the winners going through to play Beaconsfield SYCOB, although Purse is unavailable for the cup tie.