Mr 300: Paul Bastock reaches appearance milestone

Paul Bastock is presented with a bottle of champagne by chairman Nick Archer ahead of his 300th appe

Paul Bastock is presented with a bottle of champagne by chairman Nick Archer ahead of his 300th appearance for St Albans City. Picture: Dave Tavener - Credit: Archant

Paul Bastock has this week admitted he was on the verge of retirement from football until St Albans City’s joint manager James Gray contacted him about returning to Clarence Park for a third stint.

Speaking to the Herts Ad after making his 300th appearance for City in Monday’s dramatic draw with Bideford – see inside for reaction – the 43-year-old admitted he was close to walking away from the game.

“I was going to retire at the end of last season,” he said.

“I wasn’t enjoying my football at Worksop and the commitment was too much. Then Jimmy got in touch before the end of the season and asked if I would come back – it didn’t take very long to jump at the chance.

“The way he sold the club to me and what they’re trying to do, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it. This is the only club I would have played for because I have unfinished business here.”

Bastock made his debut for the Saints on November 23, 2004 against Hornchurch and was part of the promotion winning team as City beat Histon 2-0 at Stevenage’s Broadhall Way at the end of the 2005/06 campaign to reach the Conference. He was also named supporters’ player of the year.

At the start of the 2007 season he joined Rushden and Diamonds before returning to Clarence Park in March the following year and helping them to avoid relegation. Once again he was named the supporters’ player of the year – the only player to receive the accolade twice.

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Bastock manned City’s goal for the next three years and was a member of the team that was relegated back to the Southern League.

Two years at Boston and Worksop followed before he came back to St Albans at the start of the current campaign. And he has quickly regained his status as a fan favourite with acrobatic saves and clean sheets which have seen City establish themselves as title contenders.

He continued: “We’re having a great year and if we keep winning we’ll cement our place in the play-offs. We know Hemel [Hempstead] will stumble and if we keep playing like we are then we can catch them.

“This is a great squad. The promotion team was one of the finest to play at Clarence Park but what we have is good technical players, goals for fun and a team with heart; that showed against Bideford.”

Speaking after Bastock’s 300th game, Gray revealed that he and Graham Golds had considered sending him up for a corner in the dying minutes.

“Can you imagine if he’d scored the winner? The place would have gone mental,” he joked.

“The saves he made show that the reactions are still there. There’s still life in the old cat; he’s very vocal and he keeps us organised. Three hundred appearances is a great achievement and long may it continue.”

How long Bastock continues to play football is a looming question as he will be 44 in May. However, he remains passionate for the game and St Albans City, which he called the “ultimate” club.

“Everything I do in life is passionate; if I didn’t feel like that I would pack it in,” he explained.

“It’s not about staying in the game. I’ve always said I’ll play football as long as I’m passionate about it and thanks to St Albans that passion is still burning inside me.”