Success Stories

Success Stories

Testimony to the quality and worth of the EJA is perhaps best illustrated by the number of former and indeed current players who now regularly perform at senior level. Others have gained YTS or apprentice places with professional clubs and some late developers or who were studying for exams/university have been signed directly into the ranks of the professional game.

Success Stories | Eastern Junior AllianceSeveral players in the EJA have been selected for England Schools under 18’s, including Greg Dalley of Collier Row who was capped five times.

Dominic Ludden signed initially for Leyton Orient before transferring to Watford for £850,000 in season 1995 and was also on the fringes of the England under 21’s squad.

Neil Harris, formerly of both Great Wakering Rovers and Maldon Town, is now a regular goalscorer for Millwall, whilst Ian Renshaw, from the all conquering Basildon United team, was signed by Stockport County.

Another ex-EJA player to make the grade was Martin Grainger who is the first from the league to play in the Premiership with Birmingham City and played over 200 games for them. Martin retired from football on January 1, 2005, having spent 13 years as a player. His goal-scoring appearance againstManchester United, on April 10, 2004, proved to be his final professional fixture.

Other success stories are Jerome Sobers and Ben Patten  who were signed from Ford United by Ipswich Town in season 2003/2004.

In addition, the number of former players who regularly feature in senior non-league sides but most notable is perhaps another ex-Basildon United player, Ashley Harrison who kept a clean sheet in goal when Canvey Island lifted the F.A. Trophy at Villa Park in May 2001. He was again in the squad for The F.A. Trophy final in 2003, again at Villa Park, when Canvey Island were second best but had the consolation of winning promotion to The Conference. So on the same weekend that Neil Harris captained Millwall in the F.A. Cup Final, we had another ex-EJA player in another major F.A. final at Villa Park, a feat unlikely to be repeated.

It is to be hoped that the EJA can go on and continue in providing quality players who will not only achieve their own personal ideals but who can also further enhance the senior teams to which they are allied and who will, furthermore, add to the growing reputation of the EJA for the excellent, competitive football on offer.