Former Braintree Town favourite Sean Marks explains why it was an easy decision to take a big wage cut to stay at AFC Sudbury
Sean Marks has continued the good news for AFC Sudbury fans by agreeing to take a ‘significant pay cut’ to finish his playing days with the Yellows.
The ex-Braintree Town favourite, who made more than 300 appearances during The Iron’s rise to the top of the non-league pyramid, has signed a new one-year deal with an option for a further 12 months.
The 34-year-old - signed by AFC from higher-league Hornchurch last summer - scored nine goals in 27 appearances before their BetVictor Isthmian League season was abandoned and expunged due to the coronavirus in early March.
He joins teenage striker Freddie King and goalkeeper Paul Walker in pledging his future to the club with a contract for next season.
With the COVID-19 lockdown having halted the club’s income streams, Marks described the situation to accept significantly reduced terms to stay as an easy decision for him to make.
“In a ideal world I would not have to take a pay cut but I understand the future of the club in these unprecedented times is much more important than a player,” he said.
“If it is important for the club to be able to move forward by me saying I do not need to take that money and I will take a pay cut, that is the least I can do to help.
“For me personally it has never been about the finances, it has always been about putting the team and club first.”
Despite some niggling injuries restricting his appearances, he said he had hugely enjoyed his first season at AFC, which included mentoring the younger players.
He even stepped in to manage the reserves’ game in the 7-1 win against Diss Town, and alongside fellow injured team-mate Adam Bailey-Dennis, acted as dugout assistants to first-team boss Mark Morsley in a Velocity Trophy (league cup) tie against Maldon & Tiptree.
“I like to think I have put a lot into non-league football but it has given me a lot too, and I still feel I have more to give it,” he said.
“The club made me feel welcome from day one. It has its community at its heart and a cracking youth system. Non-league clubs should be aspiring to be like Sudbury.”
Coaching is something he is interested in looking to pursue once his playing days are over and the Essex County Council researcher said: “I felt this is the best place for me at this point in my career and there is so much I can learn from the other staff members.”
Manager Morsley said he was delighted to have Marks on board for next season and feels he is a shining example to others.
“Having spent two years trying to get Sean into my building it was a huge disappointment when we were just not able to exercise the option on his contract,” he said.
“Not only was he a great player for us, his input and commitment to the club – in particular working with the younger players – cannot be underestimated.
“In fact when he was injured last season he ran the team for one game and also did some scouting for us; that in isolation is a lesson for younger players to learn from.
“However, when I spoke to him regarding the future he not only said he had loved being at AFC, but he was living in the real world and just knew the future for non-league football would be very different.
“In short his attitude to working with us and taking such a substantial reduction to allow him to stay just blew me away!
“It is in stark contrast to other conversations I have had with players who frankly are living in ‘cloud cuckoo land’.”
He added: “It is also great news for my young strikers Freddie King and Tom Maycock, who will benefit from his continuing tutorage.”
Meanwhile, the club has announced a new partnership with Haverhill-based Dellar Sports Coaching to roll out an improved football in the community package which they are saying will be available to all. AFC’s fans’ favourite goalkeeper Paul Walker is one of the two coaches, along with ex-Ipswich academy player Hayden Ketteridge.
Dellar Sports Coaching founder and managing director Adam Dellar said: “We have a notable background and specialism in football with many members of the coaching team having lots of experience in both playing and coaching which contributes to a well thought out and professional approach to football development."
* AFC Gold Week 1 winners: £100 (137) M Smith, First Ave, Sudbury; £10 (182) Peddars King St, Sudbury; £10 (193) J Middleditch, Brent Eleigh Rd, Lavenham.
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More by this authorRussell Claydon