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Ben Brookes on his promotion prospects with Maidstone United after double play-off disappointment in the past two years

Ben Brookes is determined to take the final step with Maidstone this season and win promotion from National League South.

Brookes twice reached the play-offs at former club Chelmsford, with last season’s disappointment particularly hard to take.

Ben Brookes in action for Maidstone in their pre-season win at Bearsted. Picture: Steve Terrell
Ben Brookes in action for Maidstone in their pre-season win at Bearsted. Picture: Steve Terrell

City scored twice at the death to force extra-time in their semi-final with Braintree, only to lose 3-2.

The Iron would go on to beat Worthing - conquerors of Maidstone - 4-3 in the final.

“I definitely want to go that one step further,” said Brookes.

“I’ve been in the play-offs twice at Chelmsford and I don’t really want to do that again.

“I want to win it automatically but if comes down to the play-offs, I believe in third time lucky.

“It was gutting last season, especially the way we lost.

“Getting back from 2-0 down to 2-2, it felt really good. I felt the momentum would carry on to extra-time but to go out the way we did was heartbreaking.

“Honestly, that’s something I never, ever want to experience again as a footballer.

“If it comes to it again and we’re in the play-offs, I’m going to make sure I do win it this time, 100%.”

There was plenty of time for play-off reflection before Brookes completed his summer move to league rivals Maidstone.

He added: “I’m not going to lie, I was thinking about the game for a week or two after.

“I was thinking about it, day in, day out, possible things I could have done.

“I watched the game back twice and highlights were coming out on every single YouTube platform.

“To watch the game again and again, I was looking at things when I had the ball, things I could have done better.

“At the end of the day, it’s a learning curve and I’m still young and still improving.

“I know now when it comes to certain decisions, I will make them right and hopefully contribute as much as I can towards the team.

“Especially at Maidstone, I feel we’ve got a very strong team and I feel we can cause some problems in the league and the cup as well.”

It’s certainly asking a lot for the Stones to get anywhere near last season’s FA Cup heroics.

Brookes remembers watching their 2-1 fourth-round win at Ipswich as history-making United reached the last 16 before bowing out to Coventry.

“I was very jealous of that as a player,” said Brookes.

“I watched a few of those games. I remember watching the Ipswich game in the players’ lounge at Chelmsford.

“Honestly, that was incredible and that is literally every single footballer’s dream to play at big football grounds like Ipswich.

“To win as well, that’s something else.”

Brookes has built up a big social media presence with 7,700 subscribers on his YouTube account.

Stones fans can look forward to plenty of content following his move to the Gallagher Stadium.

“I’ve got a good platform so far - nearly 8,000 subscribers.

“But I personally want to try and take it to the next level.

“I’ve been thinking about it and speaking to a few media fellas and I feel, taking it one step further, I can actually do some good stuff.

“In future I’m going to be releasing a lot more content, especially with being at Maidstone, and just trying to push on and get to the 10,000 subscriber mark.”

Brookes played 45 minutes as Maidstone won 4-1 at Bearsted in their opening pre-season friendly on Saturday.

The Stones visit Sittingbourne on Tuesday night (7.45pm).

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