AFC Sudbury’s Maxwell only has eyes for title

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Ryan Maxwell is hell-bent on instilling a winning mentality into the AFC Sudbury squad, saying a play-off promotion would be ‘disappointing’.

The much-travelled combative midfielder has taken up a player-coach role on signing from Ryman One North play-off semi-finalists Heybridge Swifts, and has firmly set his sights on the league title.

The 31-year-old boxing club owner, who still has plans to fight semi-professionally in the IBA as a light middle-weight, has added a new level of depth to fitness sessions at the club by taking the players through strength and conditioning sessions he uses on his fighters.

And he has said he will be ensuring they do not fall down in pursuit of success on what he perceives as a previous area of mental weakness.

“I think maybe in the past Sudbury had players with the technical ability to get there or thereabouts, but lacked a bit of a determined streak,” he said. “I will not let that happen again, and certainly on the mental side, we will be digging in.

“I have taken a few sessions already and am pushing them more than they have been pushed before and I am only getting my teeth into them now.

“It is demanding, but I am hoping what does not kill them makes them stronger.”

Maxwell — who has six caps for Northern Ireland Under-21s and has played in the Conference Premier (Gravesend) and for several clubs in Conference South, as well as a spell across the Scottish First and Second Division — was delighted to sign for the club who he revealed he had previously been close to joining under former manager Chris Tracey.

He said: “At this level it is a stand-out club and it was a bit of a shame at the time it did not transpire due to work commitments and an agreement I had with another club.

“As soon as David put the call in, I jumped at it.”

While hoping to now settle down after 20 clubs in 10 years and seven in the last five, the Chigwell-based player, who spent four years in the youth system at Chelsea before becoming an apprentice at Crystal Palace where he went on loan to Reading without having made any senior appearances, is not willing to settle for second best when it comes to setting his season goals.

“I had an in-depth conversation with Dave and if we do get promoted via the play-offs a part of myself will be disappointed,” he said. “I want to win this league out-right and that is my goal.

“I would accept the play-offs, but I would not be over the moon with it and I genuinely mean that.”

The central midfielder, who made history with Welsh club Llanelli when winning through to the second 
qualifying round in the UEFA Cup at the expense of Swedish club Gefle IF in 2006, added: “Last season I was player-assistant at Grays (Athletic) and I only left as I thought I still have too much to offer as a player and I ended up going to Heybridge.

“I am not planning on going anywhere now until this league is won.

“I love the set-up at Sudbury and I believe this is the place I can go and win this league this year.”

It would be a first title for the Essex Fight Academy owner, who played with striker James Baker at Braintree Town and knows fellow midfielders Michael Shinn and Sam Clarke well from contests against them.

And he believes the quality of signings Batch has added to the group will give them a realistic shout of achieving his ultimate goal.

“It is no secret they are great signings,” he said. “They are winners with experience competing at a higher level.”