'Shopping? I'd prefer to be playing football' says Angels Ben Judge
BEN JUDGE spent last Saturday shopping and ferrying his children to parties – it is safe to say he has no desire to hang up his boots just yet.
The 35-year-old centre-back was released by Tonbridge Angels a fortnight ago to make room for new signings David Ijaha and Nathan Green. While disappointed by the decision, Judge completely understood why boss Tommy Warrilow made it.
"It is disappointing, but I saw it coming a bit," Judge said. "I hadn't played for a while and the two boys at the back have been playing extremely well. The side hasn't been playing that great, but two of our strongest players have been Gary Elphick and Olly Schulz.
"At my age I wasn't that happy sitting on the bench, so me and Tom mutually agreed it was the thing to do. He needed to free up funds to bring new boys in and I've been around long enough to know how these things work. I had a great time there. It's just a shame it came to a slightly abrupt end."
Now he is just focused on securing a deal for the rest of the season.
"I spent last Saturday taking my kids to parties and shopping – I'm not ready to do all that just yet," Judge admitted.
"Saturdays, for the last 18 years, have been all about football. It was strange to wake up and not have anything to do. It was a bit of an eye opener, I didn't know what to do with myself.
"I was still training with the club last week to keep myself ticking over and hope to make a decision this week. Rather than shopping, I hope to be at a club somewhere on Saturday afternoon."
Judge joined Angels at the end of September 2010 when Warrilow decided to shake up his squad after a poor start to the season. His first game was the 7-1 defeat of AFC Hornchurch and he never looked back, helping Angels to promotion and captaining the team during their debut Conference South campaign.
"The promotion day, the semi-final and final – that whole season was a highlight," Judge said.
"We were fourth from bottom when I joined, but won the first game I played 7-1. It all carried on from there. It was one of the club's biggest seasons. Those play-off games were eventful to say the least.
"But last season was also a highlight. We more than held our own in Conference South and Tom has got a very, very good squad there. When I left, I think we were 10th. So that's a job well done."
Judge hailed the job Warrilow and assistant Alex O'Brien have done at Angels, describing them as two of the most enthusiastic people he has met in the game. And he also warned fans to keep their expectations in check.
"I think some fans are maybe expecting us to push on," Judge said. "But they have to realise Tom's hands are tied. He's got a squad of 15 or 16 players and has to let one go to bring one in. He's doing a fantastic job on a limited budget. I do think they (Angels) should be a bit more consistent. I can understand where fans are coming from on that one.
"I'm sure it will happen once the new boys settle in and Frannie Collin starts scoring again. He's had a bit of a lean spell.
"But if you had said Angels would be eighth at the start of the season, everyone would have bitten your hand off."