Keeper Leach explains why he felt he had to leave Dockers for Tigers

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Keeper Graham Leach has explained why he felt he had to leave Newhaven and join local rivals Saltdean United.

The former Bournemouth and Lewes stopper said the Dockers brought Jake Buss to the club before Christmas when Leach had to miss a game due to a prior engagement.

Since then, he said, he felt he had been faced with either playing reserve football or being ‘rotated’ with Buss for first team football.

He explained that, at 31, he felt unhappy with either prospect and when Saltdean came in for him he felt it was the right decision to leave the Dockers.

However, he said it was a heartbreaking decision to make as he loved his time at Fort Road and still regarded the players there as his ‘best friends’.

And he also insisted he had nothing but best wishes for his old club – who are set to take on Crawley Town in the Sussex Senior Cup next Tuesday – and tipped them to ‘kick on and get promoted this season’.

But looking ahead to his new challenge at Saltdean, Leach said he believed the Tigers could still avoid the drop back into SCFL division three and intermediate football.

“I had a wedding to go to on December 1,” he explained.

“Jake Buss was available to sign after what happened to AFC Uckfield (boss Kevin Laundon left in October). He did all right I hear, although I obviously wasn’t at the game.

“I played for the reserves a week later. But I didn’t enjoy it. Jake kept his place and I felt I had to consider my future.

“(Newhaven boss Paul Harrison) said he wanted to rotate us. He said he didn’t want to lose me but I didn’t want to play in the reserves, or be rotated.

“Saltdean then made an approach and I thought: why not?

“I can’t imagine having two No. 1 keepers in the same club working in the county league. I can’t imagine it working at any level below Blue Square South, really.

“As soon as they signed Jake I thought: they have brought him in to play, so my time is up.

“I loved it there,” he added. “It was a brilliant time. I get on great with the players there. They’re my best friends and I wish the club all the best. I think they will kick on and get promoted.

“My aim now is to keep Saltdean in senior football. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility but we need to start showing top six form.

“The club have brought in some quality players such as Danny Davis, Loz Edwards, Matt Fleming from Peacehaven, and Ollie Hartley, as well as me.

“I think we’ll start moving in the right direction. We’ll get more wins than defeats for the rest of the season, that’s for sure.”