Happy Stefan has no regrets
STEFAN Moore admits people were shocked when he signed for St Neots Town in October 2010.
Why would the 27-year-old former Aston Villa striker, who was scoring goals for fun at Halesowen Town, choose to drop further down the non-league ladder into the United Counties League? And where was St Neots anyway?
“I have a very good feeling about the whole set up,” said Moore after signing his two and a half year contract. Seventeen months, 83 appearances, 78 goals, and two promotions later, he’s probably feeling a bit smug.
The striker told The Hunts Post after his side had secured promotion for a second time two weeks ago: “Friends were shocked that I was dropping so far down the league but in football you want to be happy really and I didn’t think there was an awful lot of difference between playing in the Conference North or South or playing for St Neots.
“You have to be happy where you are playing. That’s the most important thing.
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“I came and looked at what they had here, I spoke to the chairman and the manager, I liked the way they wanted to run the football club. I was immediately attracted to the idea.”
St Neots paid an undisclosed five-figure sum - believed to be �10,000 - when he joined the Saints from Halesowen. He had just scored 39 goals in their 44-game season.
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It was the former St Neots chairman John Delaney who showed Moore around St Neots’ new ground - alongside the club’s new owner Mike Kearns.
Delaney told the fans: “This is probably the most audacious and biggest transfer deal in the whole of non-league football this season.
“We have signed a top quality player in his prime and many clubs will be casting envious eyes towards us now.” It didn’t take long for Moore to begin repaying that transfer fee. Last week Moore said: “To win the league twice in two seasons has been brilliant.”
Moore’s younger brother Luke is currently playing for Swansea City in the Premier League. Like his sibling, Stefan came through the Aston Villa youth team. He scored a goal on his Premier League debut against Charlton Athletic in September 2002. Having already played a handful of loan games for Chesterfield the previous season, Moore went on to play another 29 times in a Villa shirt in a three-year period that was punctuated with further loan spells at Millwall and Leicester City.
In 2005 he joined Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer but was loaned out to Port Vale before joining Walsall in 2008. After just six months with Walsall Moore joined Blue Square Premier side Kidderminster Harriers - and then Halesowen.
After signing for St Neots the striker instantly stuck up a productive partnership with Shane Tolley. Lately, his partner up front has been Ben Mackey, the burly centre forward who joined the club late last year from Evesham Town. In 23 games alongside Moore, Mackey has scored 20 goals.
“Both of them have been unbelievable this season,” said Moore. “The club is very lucky to have three strikers like us on the books. I don’t think any team outside the Conference has three strikers of the quality that St Neots does - and all three of us are happy to be here too.”
Tolley, who equalled the club’s goalscoring record of 54 goals in one season when the Saints won the United Counties Premier Division championship in 2011, was forced to sit out the final month of the campaign with an ankle injury - but even he notched another 22 goals this time around.
In all, of the 115 goals that the team scored on its way to the Southern League Division One Central title this season, the strikers - Moore, Mackey and Tolley - account for an incredible 70 of them ... 64 per cent.
Mind you, 36 per cent from the rest of the squad isn’t bad either...