Former club captain Leigh Henry is to take an indefinite break from football – but has not ruled out the possibility of returning to play for Cirencester Town in the future.
Henry, 29, has been an enormously popular figure at the club both on and off the field since joining in the 2012/13 season after spells at Swindon Town, Bath City, Weston-super-Mare, Swindon Supermarine, and Maidenhead United.
He won promotion to the Southern Premier with Supermarine and repeated the feat – this time as champions – when leading the Centurions to the 2013/14 title. Henry, whose dad Charlie made 269 appearances for Swindon Town, ended last season with Chippenham Town but surprised manager Mark Collier with his close-season decision to take a sabbatical from the game.
Cirencester Town boss Brian Hughes was struggling to fill his centre back positions at the time and persuaded Henry to give it another go in the red and black. Henry played in the 4-1 home defeat to Frome Town but, after one game, has decided to stick with his original plan to take a step back.
“It was probably silly of me to come back to Ciren because I was still in the same frame of mind,” said Henry. “I have been playing non-league football for 10 years now and there is a lot of travelling and commitment involved. I’ve got two little ones of four and three and it will be nice to have the whole weekend with the family again. I’m only 29 but I just felt like taking a break for six months or so. It might not even be for a full season.
“If I come back it will be to Ciren but only if Hughesie is manager. He deserves great credit for what he has done for the club on a tiny budget and the team spirit of his sides help them punch above their weight. I’ll obviously miss the lads but will be back to see them at games and training. It seems odd as two of my mates from Swindon, Chris Taylor and Kyle Lapham, have just joined the club.
“Going up as champions three seasons ago was obviously the highlight of my time at the club and last season we were briefly at the top of the Southern Premier table after a great start. I will also remember countless special coach journeys back with the lads after some fine results. We always seem to do better away from home.”
Henry, who works in the offices of npower in Swindon, said he will continue to follow the Southern Premier results closely until he feels ready to return.
“Hughesie always seems to put together a competitive team and I hope that’s the case again and Chippenham will probably be right up there at the end of the season. They probably have the two best strikers in the league in David Pratt and Andy Sandell.”
Leigh joined Cirencester in the 2012-13 season making his first appearance at Shortwood United in the Boxing Day fixture. He went on to make 133 appearances and scored 10 goals in his time at the club. He is a big character and will be missed by all.