Purnell hails 300th Weston match as one of his ‘proudest sporting moments’
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 October 2020
Luke Purnell called reaching 300 appearances for Weston as one of his “proudest sporting moments” after achieving the milestone in The Seagulls 3-1 defeat at Tiverton Town.
Purnell has always been in and around the club from a young age, from watching his boyhood club play to playing for the Academy on his way to the first team.
He has been with the club on and off since 2007 and, after leaving for Dawlish Town 2010 before further moves to Barnstaple Town and Bridgwater Town during his time studying at university, Purnell then came back permanently in 2013 and has been in between the sticks ever since.
“When I had the opportunity to come back to Weston it was a no-brainer,” he said.
“It was always in my hindsight to do what I wanted to do and the manager of the time brought me in. I had a bit of an up and down start to the side when I was back in, I had a few injuries but the club stuck with me and I hope I’ve done enough to repay them through the 300 games because I have not been at key performance during all of the games.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs and not a lot of teams stick with goalkeepers and it’s easy to say ‘he’s not doing it, let’s get someone else in’, but the club have been loyal to me, the least I can do is be loyal back.
“It’s a lovely club and I love being there, it’s a great bunch of lads, great fans, great board and chairman. It’s a no-brainer for me to want to stay here and see out of the rest of my career.”
After representing North Somerset Schools and Plymouth Argyle Juniors, Purnell joined the club’s under-18s in 2007 before making his debut in the same year as a 17-year-old against Yeovil Town in the Somerset Cup and making his first start in the same competition 12 months later against Taunton Town.
But there is one match Weston’s shot-stopper remembers fondly.
“I made a couple of appearances in the cup and pre-season friendlies, the club was definitely in a different place back then,” recalled Purnell.
“The one game that sticks out for me is the Fisher Athletic game, which was away. It was my first league start and that was because the other goalkeeper was having his child.
“It was a scary one to be honest and we won the game 1-0. The type of players that Weston had were very aggressive and experienced. I can remember feeling very intimidated and really worried I was going to make a mistake.
“There was one moment where I made a save right at the end. I remember everyone surrounding me and they gave me a real boost to kind of enjoy that game. That was the standout and my first ever real game. It’s crazy to think that was 12 years ago, but it’s a good one to remember.”
In his time with Weston Purnell has recorded 57 clean sheets in his 301 games for the club and says reaching the landmark is something very special to him and one that stands out above all he has achieved in the game.
“It is probably one of my proudest sporting moments, I have had a few things I am proud off but the 300 mark is the one thing I am very proud about,” added Purnell,
“I have got massive respect for the club and they have stuck with me through ups and downs and in terms of form and in fairness I love the club and I am hoping to get well beyond the 300 mark. I can’t see myself playing anywhere else if I am honest.
“It’s a real proud moment being a Weston lad as well, I know a lot of the fans and they are incredible and it’s just the perfect avenue for me.”
Purnell once again just showed how valuable he is to Scott Bartlett’s side with another wonderful performance against Swindon Supermarine in the FA Cup when his penalty shootout save from Ryan Campbell helped Weston book a third qualifying date with Larkhall Athletic.
But when asked did he ever expect to reach the milestone when growing up in the town, Purnell said: “No, I am quite a pessimistic person. I try not to get carried away with my thoughts so it didn’t really cross my mind but now I am in that environment, I am determined to keep striving and getting to maybe even the 500 mark.
“Being only 30-years-old I don’t even know when keepers should come into their prime, but it should be about now.
“I like to think I have still got a couple of years in me. I still want to find that form I had a few years ago. I am not quite there yet, but I want to be pushing on now.
“I don’t want to stop at 300, I want to keep striving and do something that is really rare and something that doesn’t happen too often in non-league.”
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