Published: 05:00, 13 May 2022
Supporters’ player-of-the-year Joe Ellul says Maidstone will be his last club.
The big defender has produced the best football of his career since joining from Maidenhead two years ago and can’t imagine playing for anyone else.
At 34, he’ll be back in the National League next season following the Stones’ title success under Hakan Hayrettin, who awarded him a new deal three months ago.
“I’ll be honest, I won’t play for another club. When my time at Maidstone is done, I’ll retire,” said Ellul, who is auctioning his No.4 shirt for charity.
“I don’t want to play for anyone else. It’s a one-off kind of club, they capture you in every single way.
“It’s a family environment, and the boys we’ve got, you want to come to training, you want to spend time with them, it’s a different kind of feeling.
“Credit to Hak, he’s done an unbelievable job. He winds me up every day, he gets on my nerves but he gets the best out of me and you’ve got to love him for it.
“I can’t wait to be back in the National League.
“That league suits me a bit better. It’s a bit more direct and a bit more physical in that league.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got that bit in my locker where I can play a pass or two but it’ll be nice to be back in the big league, with the big boys, playing in front of massive crowds every week and it’s what we deserve.
“Do you know what’s mad? We are a huge club. We are a massive club and people don’t realise it.
“We’ve got massive players and massive management and massive owners.
“We’re a massive club with a massive fanbase. This is what we deserve.
“We are a National League club, if not a League 2 club, and this club will get to the Football League when they want to get there.
“When the time’s right, it will happen.”
Ellul was sidelined for three months after suffering an ankle injury in the win at Oxford City at the start of September.
Initially feared he wouldn’t play again this season, he returned for the 4-0 win over Dartford in December and starred in a 14-match unbeaten run that laid the foundations for the title charge.
He wasn’t on the losing side until Maidstone were edged 1-0 at Dorking in February, one of only three league defeats for the centre-half.
“I’m not surprised we’ve won the league, not with the players we’ve got and not with the management we’ve got,” said Ellul.
“It was our goal from the get-go and we’ve achieved it.
“It’s every kind of emotion you can imagine, and can’t imagine.
“I got back for the Dartford game and I’ve ended up playing the best part of 30 games and I haven’t been on the losing end too many times.
“It’s been nice to be able to get involved and be a part of what the boys have done. It’s hard to put into words what we’ve achieved.”
Ellul announced on Twitter he is auctioning his shirt for charity, saying it was "time to give back".
Bidders have until midnight to contact him via direct message.
Pick up your copy of this week's Kent Messenger for an eight-page souvenir supplement celebrating Maidstone's promotion