Rovers all set for the visit of former Premier League striker

After a career that comprised stints at seven Premier League and Football League clubs, there will be a notable debut appearance for one of the opposition players when Tuffley Rovers host their next Uhlsport Hellenic League fixture at Glevum Park this Saturday.

Barry Hayles, who helped Fulham achieve promotion from the Championship to the Premier League in 2000/01, will be in the Windsor FC side who arrive in Tuffley to play their first league game of the 2017/18 season.

Hayles’ career started at the now defunct Willesden Hawkeye in the early-1990s and moved onto play for (then non-league) Stevenage Borough – later to become Stevenage – whilst they were an Isthmian League side. Having achieved great success there, he moved into the Football League, joining Bristol Rovers and scoring at a plentiful rate, before his move to Craven Cottage, where he scored 57 times in 214 appearances, including scoring 13 goals in English Football’s top flight.

A career with several Championship clubs followed – with spells at Sheffield United, Millwall, Plymouth Argyle and Leicester City – before he moved to Gloucestershire, joining Cheltenham Town in 2008/09. After over 500 games and over 140 goals in the top four divisions of the English game, Hayles started a career in the non-league game that has encompassed appearances for Truro City, St Albans City and Chesham United, before he joined Windsor this summer, where he’ll take on a combined playing and coaching role.

Whilst this will be his first visit to Glevum Park, Rovers’ Manager, Mark Pritchett, has faced the Bristol Rovers legend before, when he lined up for Chesham United, whilst Pritchett was a player at Cirencester Town.

“I played against Barry when I was at Cirencester, a couple of years ago, and he was still extremely fit and a commanding physical presence”, Pritchett acknowledged. “It will be a good experience for our younger players, lining up against an ex-Premier League player.”

Rovers come into the game off the back of an unbeaten start to their season, having drawn 1-1 with Fairford Town, before winning their FA Cup tie at Woodley United on Saturday, although Pritchett still sees room for improvement, if his side are to continue to accumulate points.

“The lads were brilliant in the first half (at Woodley), but in the second we took our foot off the gas a bit and allowed them back in it. Overall I thought it was a pretty comfortable win but we have to make sure that we are ready for this game, if we are to get the result we’re looking for.”

Windsor were without a league game in the first week of the season but did start their competitive schedule on Saturday (also in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round), but succumbed to a 4-1 defeat at home to Wembley FC.

Although Hayles is likely to be something of a celebrity figure in this season’s Hellenic League, Pritchett was quick to point out that Tuffley Rovers have their own former Premier League striker, too.

“It will be a battle of two ex-pros, as we have our own Shayne Bradley, who played for Southampton, in the squad for Saturday”, confirmed Pritchett.

Rovers will be without Ashley Davies, following his red-card at Woodley United last weekend, whilst Liam Wright will serve the third match of a four game suspension and Alex O’Leary is unlikely to be fit enough to play, having sustained a thigh injury, having joined the club in the summer. Pritchett hopes to have an otherwise full squad to choose from, anticipating his Player/Assistant, Shayne Anson, will be fit to return to action, after the removal of stitches from a head wound sustained in the opening day fixture against Fairford Town.

Saturday’s game kicks-off at 3pm. Admission is £5 (£3 concessions), with U16s offered free entry, as they are to all games at Tuffley Rovers.