Father and Son at Essex Royals FC

Father and Son Line-Up in Same Essex Royals Team!

Wickford Pair Can Enjoy Father’s Day Reflections

Two Wickford footballers from different ends of the age spectrum, a father and a son, are looking back fondly on the 2024/25 season as the campaign where they set an Essex Royals FC club first… lining-up in the same starting eleven!

Andy Stead was able to play in the same team as his son, Bailey, in a competitive league game in January, a first such combo for Royals’ adult male 11v11 squad. The match was against Season Rovers in the Sceptre Sunday League at Barleylands in Billericay and 41-year-old Andy is the Chairman of the club, as well as being manager of the men’s team. He picked the side on the day, and Bailey, aged 18, was excited to be involved alongside him.

He admits it had long been an idea of his: “I’ve always thought it would be great to play in the same team as Bailey, even for a short cameo. His team had just taken the step into men’s football. They were very young still, however - an average age of 19. So, it was now a possibility! I didn’t know until the morning of this match that it would happen on this particular day, though, as the team were short of players, so it was a last-minute decision to take my boots!”

Andy had played for Royals himself from the ages of seven to 18, before moving into a coaching role for the club. Bailey had played for the club for over a decade, and Andy was pleased with how the game went: “Needless to say, the average age of the team that day sky-rocketed! But it was OK. I’d already said to the lads that, although I did want to get on, I wouldn’t do it unless it was the right thing to do, and it wouldn’t be for long as that’s not really what I manage the team for.”

“It’s about them. We were winning 5-2 at the time, so I came on for the last 15 minutes or so. I had a few good touches, as it happens, but I did miss an absolute sitter! I had visions of Thiery Henry opening his body and slotting it into the far corner where, in reality, I mis-hit it and it rolled gently to the ‘keeper! Look, I was a defender, alright!”

Playing was a proud moment for Andy, who’s looking forward to another potential pairing in the future... though he’s not so sure about Bailey! “I’ve been a part of this football club for 34 years - nearly my entire life - so to be able to put a shirt on again and be on the pitch with my son was superb,” he explained.

“Bailey is young at the moment, so probably doesn’t get it, but I hope, in years to come, he looks back with fond memories of our footballing times together. I’m so happy I can spend that time with him and I’m fit enough to be a part of it like that. I like to still believe I’m a young man, even if I can’t quite keep up with the lads sometimes!”

And he hopes Bailey will go on to equal, or even surpass, his own playing achievements: “In a way, he already has! He’s made the transition into adult football for the club, which is something I didn’t have the opportunity to do when I was his age. I’m proud of him and the other lads who have done the same. It’s a huge change from youth football. I’m proud of all of them.”

If you’d like to get involved with grassroots Essex football, browse the menus above to find out about the latest opportunities. You can also interact with @EssexCountyFA on Twitter/X and search for the ‘EssexFootball’ page on Facebook.

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