Graham Challen still has a role to play with Wroxham

Graham Challen and David Batch at Wembley prior to the FA Vase final defeat by Whitley Bay in 2010.

Graham Challen and David Batch at Wembley prior to the FA Vase final defeat by Whitley Bay in 2010. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Graham Challen, who led Wroxham to the 2010 Wembley FA Vase final and into the Ryman League, is on the road to recovery.

That was the message from Yachtsmen boss David Batch this week, who expects to see the player he describes as “a manager’s dream” back in action next season.

The club captain has been out of action since suffering a broken ankle after being hit by a car while on holiday in Ibiza, and has not figured in any of Wroxham’s Ryman League North matches this term.

Speculation that the injury, which turned out to be worse than initially suspected, could force him to hang up his boots, prompted a statement to the contrary on the club website.

Batch confirmed that Challen, a key presence on and off the pitch, is making progress after an operation and remains a key part of the Trafford Park outfit’s future plans.

“He comes down to a lot of the games and travels with us. We have been seeing quite a lot of him.

“He has had an operation and is now on the road to fitness and expecting to be back playing again next season.”

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Batch described Challen as “a manager’s dream” for his motivational skills as well as his playing ability and admitted he had been missed.

Last season, up until Christmas, with Challen pulling the strings in defence, Wroxham had the best defensive record of any club from Step Five up to the top of the Premier League.

“He is captain of the team and leads like a captain and plays like a captain. He sets high standards and is one of those people who will take it upon himself to let other people know if they’re not doing their jobs properly.”

Meanwhile Batch reported further good news of striker Paul Cook, who prior to sustaining a knee injury at Walsham le Willows on New Year’s day last year, had been Wroxham top scorer for four years running.

The powerful frontman is expected to return to first team action within weeks after an operation on a torn cartilege.

“On his day he can be a real handful. You can’t beat him in the air, you can’t beat him in the channels and he will smash one in. He was top scorer at Wroxham for four seasons and that says something.”