‘The right time’ as Ian Bitmead bows out 24 years after making Holwell Sports debut

Holwell Sports' Ian Bitmead has hung up his boots - 24 years after his first appearance for the club.

By Duncan Browne
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 2:24 pm
Ian Bitmead has ended his playing career. Photo: Tim Williams
Ian Bitmead has ended his playing career. Photo: Tim Williams

Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Borrowash Victoria may not have been the final result the veteran had hoped for, but there was still reason to celebrate as Sports secured their United Counties League Division One safety on the final day of the campaign .

"I'm 40 years old so just made the decision a few weeks ago to call it a day," explained Bitmead.

"I feel now's the right time.

Bitmead slides in against Anstey Nomads. Photo: Tim Williams

"I remember having this conversation with an old manager when I was in my mid-30s and asked 'when do you know it's time?'

"He said 'you'll just know'.

" It was halfway through this season, nothing in particular happened, I just felt this was the right time."

Bitmead broke into the Holwell first team as a youngster and went on to become a club mainstay, collecting many happy memories along the way.

The Sports skipper battling for possession. Photo: Tim Williams

"It was 1998 when I made my debut. I started with the youth team and made my debut the same year,” Bitmead recollected.

"I scored the first ever FA Cup goal for the club (against Ellistown), which is a big memory of mine. That's a proud one.

"We also had several runs in the FA Vase and FA Cup, playing in the FA Youth Cup against Kidderminster, those memories really stand out."

Graham Street Prims, the only side in the bottom three who could catch Sports going into the final day of the season, were beaten 3-0 at Harrowby United at the weekend, ensuring Neil Miller’s side put a frustrating second half of the campaign behind them to end the season outside the drop zone.

While it was a case of job done for Bitmead, he had already said his goodbyes the previous weekend.

"Saturday was fine, it was the last home game where it really kicked in," he added.

"My daughter came running on the pitch at the end and said 'is it your last game daddy?'

"I got a nice ovation as I walked off the pitch and a guard of honour.

"It really kicked in after that, thinking 'is this it?'

"But I have great memories to look back on and that's the whole reason you do local sport."

While Bitmead says he has had ‘a few offers’ he doesn’t yet know what the future holds.

However, he remains keen to offer others the chance he received as a youngster.

"It's a bit early yet but my passion is trying to get youngsters from around the town playing a good standard of football," he continued.

"That's what I'm looking to do. If that's at Holwell or anywhere else, I just want to give others the chance to do what I got to do."

Charlie Richards grabbed a late leveller for Everards Brewery Leicestershire Senior League Division One leaders Asfordby on Saturday.

His finish cancelled out Liam Stafford's goal as the hosts earned a1-1 draw with Birstall United Reserves to remain five points clear at the summit with two games in hand on Kirby Muxloe Reserves.

Asfordby travel to Dunton and Broughton United on Saturday.