Experienced striker Nathan Stone enjoying life with Thurlow Nunn League First Division North leaders Harleston Town
Two years ago Nathan Stone was considering hanging up his boots. Having turned out for the likes of Needham Market, Leiston, Lowestoft Town, Wroxham and Kirkley & Pakefield, the experienced centre-forward had lost a bit of passion for football.
However, in the summer of 2017 he was convinced to join Harleston Town by then boss Adam Gusterson – and since then he has not looked back.
The 34-year-old topped the club’s goalscoring charts with 17 during the double-winning success of last term and he has been in clinical form again this campaign.
Saturday’s hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Leiston Reserves in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division Knockout Cup took his tally for the campaign to 22 in all competitions – ensuring he surpassed the 20-goal mark for the first time in a number of seasons.
“I have already said this to a few people at Harleston and I mean it – this is the best club I have played for,” said Stone. “The whole atmosphere around the place is great and there are some real characters in the dressing room.
“I had fallen out of love with football a couple of years ago and was seriously thinking about hanging up my boots, but Gussy convinced me to join up and it is the best decision I made.
“Scoring goals is not something I worry about too much but it is nice to have reached 20 again – it has been a while.
“I am really happy at Harleston and that has had a massive impact on my performances. If you are happy in your surroundings it makes a big difference.”
Nineteen of Stone’s goals have come in the First Division North and have been a major reason as to why Harleston currently hold a four-point lead at the summit.
Last month’s departure of Gusterson has not derailed the charge, and Stone has admitted there would be disappointment within the ranks if they did not complete the job and win the title.
“We have lost a couple of players since Gussy left but we still have a very good squad,” he added. “The club did not rush to name a replacement because they can see the quality of player we have.
“Coming into the league as a promoted side not many people would have thought we would be this high up, but now we are there we would be disappointed not to go on and win it.”
Fifth-placed Fakenham Town will be Harleston’s visitors on Saturday (3pm), while they have been drawn away to First Division South leaders Hashtag United in the semi-final of the Knockout Cup on March 12 (7.45pm).