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Ex-Premier League and EFL player ‘comes out of retirement’ aged 44 for Sunday League club

Ex-Premier League and EFL player Dave Kitson ‘comes out of a 10-year retirement’ aged 44 for Sunday League club Caversham United.

Caversham, also known as the Goats, were excited to reveal him ahead of a significant local rivalry match on Sunday League day later this month.

Kitson will make his debut on the Mapledurham Playing Fields pitch in Reading, against Rose and Thistle FCwho also play their home matches on the same location.

Caversham has enlisted the services of the Premier League legend as part of the Sunday League Day initiative and hope aim to generate funds from the event by urging supporters to contribute a symbolic “ticket price” to Prostate Cancer UK, in line with the club’s “Balls to Cancer” shirt sponsorship.

Kitson has a history with Caversham United, having previously coached both the men’s and women’s teams.

KITSON’S INTERVIEW ON BBC BERKSHIRE:

Interviewer: Out of retirement to turn out for Caversham. And he’s here now. Morning Dave. How you doing?

DK: Very good.

Interviewer: How did this come about, then?

DK: To be honest, I was completely stitched up.

Interviewer: Love your honesty.

DK: No. So, with my academy, I ended up coaching Caversham United. I coached their men’s team and the women’s team him, and they’re a fabulous bunch. And I got to know Paul Gutteridge, who founded them and runs that club over there, and I got to know him quite well and off his own back, nobody sort of asked him to. But off his own back, he put a tweet out saying, if we can get the Dave Kitson Academy 500 followers, he’ll play for us, which I never agreed to, but anyway, there’s no harm in that. It’s all a bit of fun. So anyway, he did it and they managed to do it and he texted me and said, well, you’ve got to do it now. But actually, the wider point is, as you say, it’s non league day, Sunday league day, on the 24th of this month. And obviously I started my career in pub football, which comes under that Sunday league banner. So it’s quite dear to me, actually. And I feel it’s quite important and it’s good for the mental health, good to get people out the house on a Sunday morning playing football. It’s sort of important and something I sort of pay a bit of attention to. So I agreed to it and said, yeah, okay, but my knees will only give you sort of 20 minutes because I’m an old man these days.

Interviewer: Well, I was going to say, you start those excuses coming because are you feeling the pressure over 100 professional goals? Those eyes are going to be on you, Dave.

DK: Well, I think as long as the ball is on the other side of the pitch, I’ll be all right. But I think it’ll all be done in good taste. And I think the days of centre halves trying to make a name by sort of kicking me up in the air, I hope they’re over. But no, I’m actually looking forward to it. I think once I’m out there I’ll be all right. But I said to Paul, I haven’t really kicked a ball in anger for getting on for ten years, so I’m kind of half curious myself to see how I get on.

Interviewer: Yeah, because you do, as you mentioned, loads of coaching these days, don’t you?

DK: Yeah, I do. I think that’s actually where, if there’s any pressure, that will be where it comes from. Because I’ve already had messages from parents and saying that they’re going to bring their kids over, that I’ve been coaching to watch me. And I’m like, oh, God, now I’ve got to put my philosophy where my mouth is now and actually just show them that it works.

Interviewer: Oh, I love this. So have you been sort of doing a few warm up kickabouts, getting yourself match ready?

DK: No, what will be will be. I mean, between now and the 24th. I don’t think that all I’ve got time for, really, is panic between now and then, rather than any sort of great training regime. So I’m one of those who will just turn up and see how we get. I remember even when we were playing in the Premier League, I used to have to ask Ivar Ingimarsson and who we were playing at the weekend because I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I’m not changing now.

Interviewer: I wanted to ask you, actually, as a Middlesbrough fan, here’s the biggest controversial question. Middlesbrough or Reading?

DK: Oh, come on. I played six games, I think, for Middlesbrough

Interviewer: Its enough to get a taste for it, for that glorious region.

DK: Middlesbrough is just one more place where I’m disliked for. Along with Portsmouth. Yeah. But no, I played six games for them and I met some really good mates up there, actually, as part of that team as well, who’s still mates to this day. And I managed to score three goals, but they never really took to me up there. But, yeah, when you put that up against the five and a half years at Reading and what we achieved there, it’s sort of night and day, really, but I still live in Reading. My kids all go to schools, different schools in Reading. My wife works in Reading, so I’ll always be sort of an honorary Reading lad, I think.

Interviewer: And can everybody come along and watch this game that you’re in just to make it even worse for you, Dave?

DK: Yeah, it’s at Mapledurham playing fields up there in Caversham. And obviously it’s an open park, anyone can turn up and come and watch. So on the 24th, if you get there for about ten, don’t expect a seat. There aren’t any. It’s proper Sunday league football. Come and have a watch, walk the dog around the pitch, et cetera. If you want to see an old professional really struggling and have a good laugh, then that’s the morning for you.

HIS CAREER:

David Kitson, a former English professional footballer, played as a forward and had an impressive career which started with non league clubs Hitchin Town and Arlesey Town before moving to Cambridge United in 2001.

Kitson’s talent shone in the Third Division, leading to his signing with Reading in 2003 for £150,000. His time at Reading was marked by success, including winning the Championship title in 2006.

After spells with Stoke City, Reading, Middlesbrough, and Portsmouth, Kitson eventually joined Sheffield United and later Oxford United.

In April 2021, he became chairman of Arlesey Town, but resigned in February 2024 to focus on The Dave Kitson Academy. Kitson expressed interest in a directorial role at a Berkshire football club.

Youth career
–1998 – Hitchin Town

Senior career
1998–2000 – Hitchin Town – 6 games (0 goals)
2000–2001 – Arlesey Town
2001–2003 – Cambridge United – 123 games (47 goals)
2003–2008 – Reading – 146 games (60 goals)
2008–2010 – Stoke City – 40 games (5 goals)
2009 → Reading (loan) – 12 games (2 goals)
2009 → Middlesbrough (loan) – 6 games (3 goals)
2010–2012 – Portsmouth – 72 games (12 goals)
2012–2013 – Sheffield United – 37 games (12 goals)
2013–2014 – Oxford United – 36 games (4 goals)
2014–2015 – Arlesey Town
Total – 478 games (145 goals)

Managerial career
2014–2015 – Arlesey Town (player-assistant manager)

Twitter users reacted as the ex-Premier League and EFL player ‘comes out of retirement’ aged 44 for Sunday League club Caversham United…

@urrrzzzz: Surely this is the biggest signing in Sunday league history

@AndrewSpiers: Please tell me that you are going to spin the wheel and put him in goal.

@ronniemac93: Things you love to see 😍😍

@gutted27: Oh my days we did it 😅✍️🐐

@toby1139: Stunning. What a man.

@steven_sawers: Love it!!!!!!!!

@johnnsullivan: You’ll enjoy Dave’s involvement in your club , One off the best 👍👍

@tomas123urz: “…WHAT A BARGAIN, WHAT A BARGAIN”

@JosephGLodge: FINE! I’ll buy a shirt!

@benatherton: if you need a local ref, just to keep it all Caversham- based, then let me know!

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