I recently interviewed Layne Eadie and in the course of this article I will give details of his journey in football that eventually led to him joining Hitchin Town. But I will also for the first time reveal how Layne suffered a major health scare last season which nearly cost him not only his football career but could easily have cost him his life.
Layne was born in Sutton but moved to Hertfordshire when he was 8 years old. His football career started when he played for the Sir John Lawes school team in Harpenden. It turned out to be a successful team and Layne told me a number of the players are playing good standard non-league football today. Having been scouted by them Layne joined Luton Town when he was thirteen and stayed for two years before joining Stevenage where Colin Reid was his coach. He played some game for his father’s team Leighton United and after playing against Biggleswade from the South Midlands Premier in a cup game joined them on loan.
Layne left Stevenage and joined Barton Rovers under manager Dan Kennoy. He was only seventeen and found he was in and out of the side. He was playing left back although he had started his career as a striker. He likes to run on to the ball and overlap so left back is an ideal position for him.He next moved to Leighton Town who were also in the Southern League Central division and where an old coach of Layne had become manager. He played further forward on the left hand side and scored seven goals in his first ten games including a hat-trick. One of his league games was against ambitious St Neots and their manager Dennis Greene immediately put in a seven day approach for Layne. St Neots were top of the league and it was an easy decision for Layne to join them. He played a number of games and they went on to win the league. They had some top players and Layne regarded Stefan Moore one of the best strikers he has played with.
St Albans then approached Layne. As they were in the Conference South and Layne was living in Harpenden he again had an easy decision to make. David Howe was the manager and in the first few months Layne rarely played. But James Gray replaced Howe as manager and he put Layne in the team at left back. While Layne had moved up two steps in the football pyramid he felt comfortable at the higher level. He was playing on a regular basis but then suffered a bad sprain and was out for six weeks. The manager signed another left back in this period and Layne did not get back in the team.
Layne then went to Harlow who were in the Isthmian League division 1 and he enjoyed his time there under manager Danny Chapman. They were successful in this period. In his first season they lost in the play-off final having led the table until the final day of the season and in his second season they lost in the play-off semi-final. Promotion came in the third season and Layne played every minute of every game while at Harlow.
St Albans then re-signed Layne with Ian Allison now the manager. In the first season St Albans were at the top of the table for most of the season but after Layne was surprisingly dropped their results suffered. Layne then suffered a bad leg break and when he returned to fitness he was sent to Wingate Finchley in the Isthmian League premier division. Layne did not particularly enjoy his time at Wingate and he approached Mark Burke and asked if he would be interested in signing him for Hitchin. Layne knew Mark through having played against Hitchin with teams that he had been involved with, while Mark had closely followed Layne’s career from the time he had played for St Albans and had often wanted to sign him.
Mark was so keen to sign Layne that he was signed at lunchtime on Tuesday 10 September 2019 and was put straight in the team for the league cup game at Welwyn Garden City. However Layne must have questioned his move as Hitchin turned in probably their worst performance of the season and were thrashed 5-0. But performances improved after this and Layne settled down in the left back position in draws against Banbury which finished 0-0 and AFC Rushden & Diamonds, a game where Layne scored an 88th minute penalty to grab an equaliser . All was going well but disaster was to strike just two days after the Rushden game.
On Wednesday 18 September Layne was driving home from work on the M1. Luckily traffic was heavy and moving quite slowly because Layne suffered a black-out and crashed in to the car in front of him. Had he been going at a faster speed the chances are the crash could have been fatal. All Layne remembers is that one moment he was driving and the next thing he remembered was being woken up by the driver he had run in to. Having come round he was able to walk to the ambulance and was taken to the Luton and Dunstable hospital. He had phoned his wife who met him in resuss, The medics thought he may have had a stroke. He underwent a number of tests and the results of the readings were all over the place. They were three or four times higher than was expected of an active sportsman.
Layne remained in hospital for a week. He had MRI and CT scans on his heart and brain. He also had an ECG which he told me was really intrusive and uncomfortable and had a number of specialists dealing with his case. But despite these extensive tests no answer was found to the cause of Layne’s problems. He was banned from driving for six months but was allowed to return to work. He was feeling fine but was obviously worried about his future football career and wondered whether he would be able to play again. There had been suggestions he may have to have a pacemaker fitted and in the early stages of his recovery he was only allowed to walk for a maximum of ten minutes.
Eventually in December Layne was given the go ahead to return to training. He was obviously somewhat nervous but on 7 January he was named as substitute at Leverstock Green in the Hers Senior Cup tie and he did come on. He made a number of substitute appearances before making his first start at Tamworth and was then a regular before the season was suspended. Now Layne considers every game is a bonus and he intends to enjoy the rest of his career. He has made a very good start to the new season and has made the left back position his own. He has also become our designated penalty taker and I asked Layne how this came about. He told me he had often taken penalties at previous clubs either in penalty shoot-outs or if the normal penalty taker was not on the pitch. After our disastrous record with penalties last season Mark Burke turned to Layne and appointed him our new penalty taker. Until the Stratford game he had a 100% record and indeed that was the first penalty he had missed in his career. He puts it down to changing his mind as he was about to take it, something he has never done before and will not do again.
Layne is an impressive person who is articulate, modest and honest. To have overcome his health scare must have been very difficult psychologically and to return to the top level of non- league football says a lot for his determination. He is also acting as a mentor to some of our younger players at Hitchin such as Rio Dasilva. He can help them as he has been in their position when they are in and out of the team and feeling frustrated. So Layne is using his experience to help the next generation of players and he says that he is really enjoying his time at Hitchin. Mark Burke considers Layne a very good professional who has plenty of experience and is a big voice in the changing room. He turned to Layne to captain the side recently when Dan Webb was missing. Let us hope Layne has an injury and illness free period and continues to show his undoubted skills at Top Field for many seasons to come.
BY ROY IZZARD