Evan Key hails the team spirit and unity at Histon
Stutes’ togetherness a boost for the club
Watching Histon this season, it is difficult not to notice the camaraderie in the squad.
After relegation to the Eastern Counties League last season, it would have been easy for players to depart the Glass World Stadium for promises elsewhere.
But rather than be disillusioned and disenchanted, the Stutes were able to keep the majority of their squad together.
And keeping hold of the likes of captain Max York, Lee Smith and Evan Key has been crucial to their campaign in the Thurlow Nunn League, Premier Division.
"We've got a really good team spirit and I think that's what's done us well so far,said Key.
"The team spirit we've got at Histon is definitely the best in a dressing room I've been in, without a doubt.
"We do have a good squad and a good team spirit. I came for the last four or five games last season; and me, Lee, Shaun (Jenkins), James (Carman), a few of us are quite tight-knit friends anyway as we're from the same sort of area so it's good.
"You go from being mates on the side as well as playing football together, and usually that fits in quite well.
"I wouldn't change the side we've got now. I've been in a dressing room before where there's been no team spirit and there's no point playing football because you can't go through 80 or 90 minutes of the game; and if you're 1-0 down, team spirit pulls you through most of the time.
"If you don't have team spirit, it just doesn't work; all people are doing is playing for themselves, they're not playing for each other."
Key, 23, had played higher up the pyramid, with Bury Town and Biggleswade Town, so it is easy to think that he may have been tempted to leave after relegation.
But with his father, Lance, as manager, and balancing professional, personal and football demands, it became an easy decision to make.
"There were a few things that persuaded me to stay at Histon,said Key."We've just had a little girl, and there was work.
"When you work - I work in London now - and on a Tuesday night you're travelling to Cirencester away and you have to go to work on the Wednesday, it's tough.
"It takes a toll on your body as well. That's what I think people don't appreciate about non-League football because you're not just playing football, you're having to work as well.
"I did have a few options to go elsewhere, but with my old man being at Histon, I thought I would stay there as well.
"At the end of last season, I thought it was pretty good and I think that's probably why most players stayed in the end."
And there is a theme for Key in another team where he played a crucial role.
Rolling back the years, he was part of the Cambridge & District under-15s team that reached the final of the English Schools' Football Association final Under-15 Inter Association Trophy in 2010.
They played Liverpool on the hallowed turf of Anfield, and although they were beaten on the day, it was a great achievement for such a small schools' association, compared to some of their more illustrious opponents.
And that success can draw similarities with the team spirit in the current Histon team.
"That was really good,said Key."Obviously we played against a side much better than us in the final, but it was a really good experience to get there.
"They are the sort of things that all footballers want to do, you want to get to places like Anfield.
"Back then, all of us were mates and that's going back to how we are at Histon.
"At the time, with the under-15s, individually we had some good players like Joe Peacock, Jack Uttridge, James Chivers, Jamie Massey. We had good players who were playing at academy level at the time as well, so that helped; as well as the team spirit."
Key carried on his successful season by scoring four goals last Saturday as Histon defeated Hadleigh United 5-2 to move fifth in the table.
And this weekend they welcome league leaders Felixstowe & Walton to the Glass World Stadium.