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Gavin Hoyte the natural successor to George Elokobi as Maidstone United captain

There was only one choice for the Maidstone captaincy following George Elokobi’s retirement.

Gavin Hoyte did a sterling job deputising for the injured Elokobi for the bulk of United’s National South title-winning campaign.

Maidstone United captain Gavin Hoyte Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United captain Gavin Hoyte Picture: Steve Terrell

So when Elokobi called time on his 19-year career in the summer, right-back Hoyte was the natural successor.

It’s a responsibility the former Arsenal man takes seriously and his experience will be crucial in the National League this season, with Maidstone starting the campaign at Altrincham tomorrow.

“I think I’ve just got to step up again,” said Hoyte, 32.

“It’s going to be a lot harder this year, there’s going to be lots of ups and downs.

“I’ve got to keep the boys’ spirits high and just try and keep everyone’s levels high, on and off the pitch.

“Another thing as well, most importantly, is the players who aren’t playing. They’re going to be key for us.

“Obviously you’re going to be upset not playing but I think as captain I’ve got to go and help them and try and keep their spirits high each and every day because everyone’s going to be needed.

“There’s a lot of games, a lot of travelling, so not everyone can play every game, like they probably did last year.”

Hoyte grew into the captaincy after taking the armband at the end of October as Maidstone shot up the table to overhaul Dorking and win the championship.

He had Elokobi in the background for guidance and knows he can still turn to his former team-mate.

“Any little thing that happens, the boys look at me,” said Hoyte.

“When I go home, I always think what could I have done better as captain, how could I have helped everyone?

“Ultimately, when we lose, I always look at myself first of all, so I always take that to heart.

“What a guy George was to learn from.

“I don’t think you can get anyone better than him.

“Even now I reckon he’s still going to be on the phone if I need any advice or anything - I know he’ll be there to speak to.

“It’s going to be an enjoyable role for myself.”

Hoyte believes the standard has improved since he last played National League football with Dagenham in the 2018/19 season.

But returning to the division holds no fear for the defender and nor should it for team-mates who’ve previously operated at that level.

Hoyte said: “It’s going to be a lot tougher now, with teams like Scunthorpe and Southend in there, but a lot of our players have played there before so we’re all ready for the step up.

“It’s not one we should be scared of, we shouldn’t fear anything, everyone’s got the ability to do it.

“The main thing is work hard and we’ll be all right.

“We’re champions, we went up as champions, so we’ve got a lot of confidence, we were deservedly champions.

“We’re more than capable of battling and showing what we’re about in that league, and with the additions we’ve made, they’re going to help as well.”

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