Todd Perry commended for 25 year West Midlands non-league career

After a non-league career that took him all over the Midlands for almost 25 years, Todd Perry is grateful to have had a special send-off.

Todd Perry leads the team out through an honour guard.
Todd Perry leads the team out through an honour guard.

Defender Perry has long been a respected, popular presence in the local scene along with his unmistakable younger brother, Kyle.

The 39-year-old, from Great Wyrley, had spells with Wolverhampton Casuals, Bilston Town, Lichfield City, Willenhall Town and Chasetown before spending the last few years at Dudley Town, where he was given a proper farewell.

Town dedicated the final day of the season all to Perry as a 4-0 victory over Ashby Ivanhoe saw him given a guard of honour and a commemorative plate while lots of friends and family were there to watch at the Guardian Warehousing Arena.

It was a fitting way to end the journey for Perry, who has lived and breathed non-league football for his entire adult life.

"I've been playing senior men's football since I was 15 or 16, so it's about 24 or 25 years," he said.

"I started off at Walsall academy and worked my way out of the pro game and into non-league.

"I worked it out the other day and, unofficially, I reckon I'm just shy of 1,000 games.

"It'd be lovely to know exactly how many games I've played. There were a couple of fans at Willenhall who gave me my stats, and that was really kind. There are a few others looking for me as well.

"Through the years, you have your ups and downs. It's been an absolute rollercoaster.

"Giving it up after so long, the hardest thing to give up wasn't actually stepping out on the pitch. It's more so moving away from the dressing room and that involvement.

"What Dudley Town did for me on the last day of the season, I never expected that.

"I still feel like I didn't quite deserve that send-off as it was absolutely amazing. I couldn't have wished for a more special day.

"The club went above and beyond for me.

"I had friends, coaches and family who hadn't watched me for years. My best mate from school came, and I don't think he's ever watched me before.

"Everyone just went out of their way to make it a special day, so I feel very thankful.

"I can't big the club up enough. I'm honoured to have had the chance to play for them in my twilight years in football."

Perry played a vital role as Town reached the Midland One play-offs last season, where they lost to eventual winners Darlaston Town in the semi-finals.

Robins boss Matty Lovatt was determined to mark his skipper's retirement in style.

"He's an infectious character, so warm and welcoming," said Lovatt.

"When a new player comes in, it's always a bit daunting for them, but Todd has always made an effort to make them feel welcome.

"He's been a fantastic leader on the pitch for us, our captain.

"He's a gem of non-league, and we've had an outpouring of messages from far and wide wishing him well, which is quite unique.

"We wanted to celebrate his career in the right way.

"We went above and beyond to match the effort he's put into his football."

Perry insists it is hard to pick out specific highlights, but he was able to play with brother Kyle at Willenhall.

Perhaps surprisingly, they only faced each other once as centre-half Todd was with Bilston Town when he came up against centre-forward Kyle during his spell with Stafford Rangers. Both of them scored while Todd escaped a clear booking for clattering into Kyle when the striker pleaded with the referee 'to let him off as he's my brother'.

Kyle is set to carry on playing having turned out for Chasetown towards the end of last season.

The older Perry plans to find a veteran's team while coaching his son, Mason on Sundays.

"I'm managing my lad's team, Brewood Juniors. They're going into under-14s and we won the league last season," he said.

"I'll probably make a bit of time to go and watch Kyle next season as well.

"I don't think either of us have been shy about playing football and where we go.

"We've just tried to make the most of it, really."

Perry added: "I'm really enjoying my coaching now and hoping to see my lads through into football.

"The coaching of the lads' team means a lot to me.

"I've done coaching bits at other semi-pro clubs, so that's not off the cards.

"Now, though, it's about spending quality time with the family and enjoying that."

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