Published: 00:00, 16 April 2019
Andy Pugh could not contain his delight after returning to action for Dartford on Saturday.
The striker came off the bench for the last 16 minutes of the 1-0 home defeat to Chippenham in National League South – his first action since a double-leg break in July.
It’s been a long nine months for the 30-year-old but, despite Dartford’s struggles on the pitch in recent weeks, Pugh's just happy to be playing again.
“I’d love to score a goal but my main goal was just to play again this season so I feel like I’ve already won,” said Pugh.
“It was a great feeling. Obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted but for me to be back out there, putting the boots on, putting my shinpads on, it means everything.
“It means so much, from those early days when you think ‘am I going to play again?’ I know I’m nowhere near where I need to be but to be able to do what I’m doing is a massive achievement and I’m really proud of myself.”
Pugh’s introduction against Chippenham drew the biggest cheer of the day from the Dartford faithful.
Their backing has been one of the key ingredients in Pugh returning before the end of the current campaign.
“It’s one of the things that has driven me on from the start,” added Pugh. “The fans have been so positive to me and to hear them singing my name was one thing that has got me through.
“If I was more match-fit then I think I would have scored on Saturday, especially from Ryan Hayes’ cross. I would have done anything eight months ago to be back out there and have chances to score.
“I’m that slow at the minute that I don’t get out of breath yet! Hopefully the ball comes to my feet and if it doesn’t there isn’t much more I can do at the minute.
“Flan welcomed me back into it before the game and everyone gave me a round of applause in the dressing room but now we’ve got to concentrate on our performances and results.”
More by this authorMatthew Panting