With Stow’s competitive season about to begin, Max Mitchell has added some real quality and experience to his squad. Defender James Hammond featured for Hadley last season but has put pen to paper as he signs for Stow ahead of the 2020/21 season.
The club’s ambition during the 2019/20 season encouraged James to join Walthamstow, as well as being a local lad. “The fact that the team were fighting for the title last year, means that we’ll be trying to do the same thing in challenging this year. I am originally from Hackney so I know the area well. Funny enough, I went to Monoux College down the road.”
According to Hammond, the gaffer played a huge role in getting him to put pen to paper. “Max was good in the chats we’ve had about what he is trying to do and how he wants to implement it on the pitch. I’ve played against him a few times in his heyday (he would have you think he’s still got a bit!) but just going off the kind of player he was, I feel that the team and myself can flourish under his leadership.”
Hammond spent time at Essex Senior League rivals Hadley last season, giving him good knowledge of the league. “I enjoyed playing for Hadley last year however brief it was. We had a good FA Cup run and they are a good bunch of lads and have got great management. I’ve not got a bad word to say about the club. I don’t think they got to see the best of me, as I wasn’t fully fit but now I am fit and raring to go for a good consistent season.”
As well as playing in the ESL for Hadley, the right-back has also featured for clubs like Hendon, Concord Rangers and Wealdstone, making over 250 appearances in the higher levels of the pyramid. From those clubs, he brings a wealth of experience into the club, including playing one of the hardest games in non-league, a play-off final. “It’s no secret that I’ve played for a fair amount for some very good clubs. I’ve had a few play-off final losses, and also been lucky enough to get a few promotions in the cabinet as well. Hopefully, I can get another one this season. Career-wise in non-league, I think like most, I’ve experienced it all; the highs and the lows, the two and a half hour coach journeys – to then not get on – but that’s life. I think overall it’s been a decent enough career with many stories to remember.”
But his aspirations remain high. “I have aspirations to carry on playing as high and as long as my body allows. Just a disclaimer, I am not falling apart and still in very good nick! I want to win things with Walthamstow; it’s pretty simple really. I just want to get a good cup run going, then focus on the main target of promotion.”
What can supporters expect from you at the club? “I would love to sell them a dream that I am non-league Messi but I am more like Tony Hibbert – consistent!