KYLE Critchell has admitted he had doubts about being able to play at Southern League level again before returning to action for Dorchester Town last weekend.
However, speaking to Echosport for the first time since rejoining his old club on non-contract terms, Critchell said he was “overwhelmed” by the experience against Chesham.
The 27-year-old’s return to the Avenue from Weymouth last week came after receiving the all-clear from doctors in May following a battle with severe sepsis.
Critchell thanked the Terras for their support through such a tough period in his life, but went on to say that the move to the Magpies was something he “couldn’t turn down”.
He also expressed his gratefulness to former Dorchester boss Phil Simkin for the part he played in his return to the county town club, and current caretaker-manager Stuart Heath for the chance to play on Saturday.
On his comeback in the draw with Chesham, Critchell, who hadn’t played first-team football for well over a year, said: “Before the game, Stuart asked me if I was available and willing to play, and I said I was at his mercy.
“I think the general consensus was that playing me was a risk but I don’t think it was.
“I trained very well on the Thursday and I think Stuart needed my experience on the day.
“I couldn’t wait to get my teeth stuck into helping the team.
“I did have second thoughts before the game about playing at that level.
“But once the game started I had to use every bit of my experience and guile to get me through it.
“I lasted over an hour and thought I did okay.
“The fans were fantastic and got behind the team, and what we gave them was an honest performance.”
Critchell, who is not being paid to play for the Magpies, won’t be available for every game due to work commitments.
And it is the flexibility of being able to play on his terms that was the main reason behind his decision to leave the Bob Lucas Stadium.
Commenting on the move and his relationship with Weymouth, he added: “I couldn’t commit to Weymouth full-time.
“I spoke to Jason (Matthews) and he understood the situation, and I want to thank Weymouth for being so good about it.
“I wanted to do things on my own terms and it was an opportunity to improve my fitness and play at a decent level that I couldn’t turn down.
“It’s just a case of me being selfish for once. The last year has been the hardest of my life, fighting my illness and then the recovery.
“I never thought I was going to be walking again let alone playing.
“I had an opportunity to play at a high level on my terms and I went for it.
“I’m thankful to Phil for bringing me in and Stuart for giving me the opportunity on Saturday.”
He continued: “I’m really thankful for the way Weymouth supported me through the most difficult period of my life.
“And I’d like to thank the club for honouring the contract I was on, especially last year given my illness.
“Jason knows my situation and if I’m fit and playing regularly then the door is always open, and Dorchester know that as well.”
Meanwhile, the club say a significant number of candidates have shown an interest in the vacant role of first-team manager.
Chairman Matt Lucas has said no definitive timescale is being put on an appointment and the club will be speaking to interested parties in the coming days.
At a board meeting on Monday night it was agreed that a fans’ forum would be held at the Avenue on Monday, September 29 (7pm).