New Wealdstone signing Hughes eager to experience much tougher challenges

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 July 2020

Action from Leyton Orient v Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Cup, Picture: Simon O'Connor

Action from Leyton Orient v Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Cup, Picture: Simon O'Connor

Simon O'Connor Photography 07958 573219

Wealdstone’s newly-signed striker Charlee Hughes is rising up through the ranks of the non-league game, having played for the likes of Burnham Ramblers in the Essex Senior League, as he now has his chance in the National League.

The 24-year-old played for the Ramblers before making the switch to Brentwood for the 2018/19 season where he netted 20 goals in the Isthmian North.

Hughes then found himself at Maldon & Tiptree where he scored 29 goals last season and helped the Jammers gain a 14-point lead at the top of the Isthmian North table before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and eventually declared null and void.

“Definitely, I’m kind of almost looking forward to getting back playing in general due to the lockdown and the lack of football, but the big new challenge and joining a new club is definitely something that is very exciting for me to get started and push myself at that level,” Hughes said.

“I’m just really looking forward to it and starting this new chapter in my football career.”

The target man has been keeping fit during the Covid-19 pandemic and is thankful his dad does some football coaching as it has provided him with the equipment he has needed.

“It’s a tough one as obviously we have no gyms, no training, and no football or anything like that, but for myself I like to stay fit and healthy in the off-season,” added Hughes.

“I’ve been doing plenty of biking, running, and just keeping myself ticking over. I’m also lucky that my dad is a football coach so I’ve got a lot of equipment on hand at home and he helps me a little bit.

“I’ve done a few sessions with him which has helped me really, but it has been a tough time for everyone. We’ve got to try and make of it what we can.”

Hughes was a key component in Maldon & Tiptree’s incredible FA Cup run last season, which saw the Jammers win at Leyton Orient in the first round proper before defeat against Newport County.

“It’s definitely a season I will never forget with the cup runs we had, but the team in general, the way the season went,” he said.

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“A lot of people not really knowing much about Maldon, we dominated the league, on that note. We were coming away from places like Hullbridge Sports with a 1-0 win and going to Bury away, winning 2-1, but being 1-0 down and it was that kind of mentality that the team had and the togetherness we had pulled us through.

“It was a great season experience-wise. Obviously goal-wise I scored lots, which I love to do in any season and it’s great to be doing that at a top-flight team in that league.”

The former Leyton Orient academy product also says he never felt nervous ahead of playing at Brisbane Road as Maldon had nothing to lose.

“For us we almost felt like we shouldn’t have been there in the first place, so a lot of people ask were you nervous and what was it like, and my answer is I wasn’t nervous at all because there was no pressure on us,” he added.

“We just had to go and do what we had been doing all season and that’s exactly what we did. It just highlights when you’re put in front of that main stage, especially with a League Two club with the cameras watching, it was an unforgettable day and game.”

The striker is now excited about getting the chance to play at bigger stadiums in front of bigger crowds and against better players in the National League.

“Touching again on the cup run we had, going to those places and having Newport come to us, that in itself shows you the difference in crowd, stadiums, and the different aspects of it,” he said.

“Playing against the bigger teams in the National League, I’m really looking forward to it, as I’m used to the changing rooms that are log cabins, no hot water or showers!”

Hughes admitted he did enjoy his time at both Brentwood and Burnham as they shaped him as a player who is now grateful for opportunities and learnt to ply his trade in men’s football.

“Not long ago I was playing in those leagues, playing at not very good grounds, but that is all part of the experience, and I’ve learnt kind of where you can come from and to be grateful for what you’ve got when you go to these nice stadiums and grounds,” he added.

“At Burnham they didn’t have constant videos and backroom staff that are doing all this hard work that you don’t necessarily see from an outside point of view.

“Moving up to these clubs they definitely have all this help behind them and it makes such a big difference. It’s good to experience both sides of it.”

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