I'm looking forward to a new challenge at ambitious Tunbridge Wells, says striker Paul Booth
Booth – a striker who has needed barely 12 months to have even his manager calling him an Invicta Legend - has decided the time is right to step down a level and may have played his last game for Folkestone.
The veteran striker is less than two weeks short of his 38th birthday on January 8, and while manager Neil Cugley is sorry to see him go, he fully understands the reasons for the player’s decision.
“He want to spend more time with his family and also feels that things have not gone for him as they did last year when he made such an impact when he first signed for us in late October,” Cugley told www.folkestoneinvictafc.co.uk.
“He’s also seen how well Atko (Richard Atkins) and Draycs (Ian Draycott) have done for us and realises he might be spending an increasing amount of time on the bench if he stayed on here.”
Booth is undoubtedly one of the most successful strikers in Kent non-league football over the last 20 years, scoring goals for fun wherever he has played.
And like almost most players – strikers particularly – this excellent player has enough pride to want to be worthy of a place in the starting line-up of whatever club he is with and to know what he is now capable of.
Cugley said: “Tunbridge Wells – who are of course much closer to his (Wateringbury) home – came in with a seven-day approach for him and he has decided to try his luck at that level.
“We will be retaining his Ryman League registration, however, and who knows – let’s just say if he finds he’s still enjoying playing, he wouldn’t be a bad player to have in the squad if we make the play-offs again, which is, of course, our objective.”
It was Booth who scored the only goal of the game for Maidstone United to knock Invicta out of the end of season play-off semi-final at the end of the 2012/13 season, and indeed scored Folkestone’s goal in last season’s final when Folkestone drew 1-1 with Leatherhead, but were then beaten on penalties.
One of his proudest achievements will surely have been the way he guided Johan Ter Horst through to become Folkestone’s top scorer in 2013/14 – the youngster’s first full season in senior football – sparking the interest of a host of leading clubs and his eventual move to Premier League Hull City last summer.
“Boothy is a great pro who has been an absolute pleasure to work with, said Cugley, who likens the player's attitude to that of the excellent and popular midfielder Jimmy Jackson.
“We all saw how Johan benefited and learned from playing alongside him and his influence on the squad has been outstanding. We can only thank him for everything he’s done during his time here and wish him well for the future.”
Having allowed another striker, Joe Taylor, to leave Cheriton Road to join Tonbridge Angels last week, Cugley now has some cash to play with as he starts to look for one more striker to bring in to Invicta
“With Boothy and Joe going I do have some room to maneuver and I’ve already got someone in mind,” he said.
Booth scored a total of 42 goals having started 61 games for Invicta, plus two substitute appearances.
He is the club’s second top scorer this season with 16 goals – the last coming at Tooting & Mitcham a fortnight ago.
Booth took to Twitter to add: “Looking forward to a new challenge at Tunbridge Wells – ambitious club going places and want to be part of it.
“Want to thank everyone involved at Folkestone Invicta. I enjoyed my time there and only have good things to say about the club, management, players and the fans.”
Tunbridge Wells are fourth in the Southern Counties East Football League table – one division lower than Folkestone Invicta - with 38 points from 21 games – seven points adrift of unbeaten leaders Phoenix Sports.
Visit Folkestone Invicta’s website: www.folkestoneinvictafc.co.uk