Avis' name appears alongside world stars on FA Cup ball
As an Arsenal supporter, Shaun Avis has grown a real affinity with the FA Cup in recent years.
The Gunners got their hands on the famous trophy in 2014, 2015 and 2017, with Avis at Wembley on each occasion to take in that success.
And while he had no connection to either of this year’s finalists of Manchester United and Chelsea – the Newmarket Town striker still had an involvement in proceedings.
That is because he was randomly picked as one of 137 footballers that had scored in this season’s competition to have his name inscribed on the match ball.
The goal in question came back in August when Avis was wearing Mildenhall Town colours – an early back-post header proving enough to see off Framlingham Town in the preliminary round.
Plenty of other non-league players made the cut alongside household names such as Alexis Sanchez, Willian and Virgil van Dijk.
“I have been to the finals recently to watch Arsenal and it is a great occasion,” said the centre-forward.
“There was some big non-league players on that ball and then some absolute stars.
“Hearing that my name was going to be included alongside those, it was all a bit surreal and a big shock.
“When you look at the list, to have my name on there makes me feel proud. I am really delighted.”
The 2017/18 campaign was a mixed one for Avis, who made the jump up from Halstead Town to try his luck at Step 4 with newly-promoted Mildenhall Town.
Early on he was a regular fixture in the starting line-up but, after spending too much time on the bench for his liking, he dropped down into the Thurlow Nunn League Premier League division with Newmarket in December.
“It was a bit of a disruptive season,” said the Newmarket resident.
“Last summer I felt confident and in good shape so I wanted to test myself as high as possible.
“I did well early on and even a few spells on the bench was not a problem. It was my first time at that level and I needed to learn.
“But then I had a long run on the bench and at that point I had to make a decision.
“Newmarket were keen and it is a good club with great facilities. I live in Newmarket and it made sense.
“I scored a few goals for both clubs so in that sense I am quite happy with how it went.”
Avis certainly ended the term in positive fashion, scoring five goals in as many fixtures.
He is yet to talk things through with player-manager Michael Shinn, but providing he is part of the plans for the future, Avis is open to the prospect of remaining at the Bloorie.com stadium.
“The manager told us towards the end of the season to prove we want to be a part of things going forward,” he said.
“I like to think I did that with the goals and my performances.
“I am sure we will have a chat soon and if I am part of his thinking then I am willing to look at staying.
“I need to stick with one club next season and hopefully that is Newmarket because we have a good squad and if we can keep the core of that and add a few more, we could be challenging.”
* Newmarket have announced four pre-season friendlies for the summer, all at home against higher-league opposition.
Cambridge City will be the visitors on July 13, followed by Royston Town (July 17), Harlow Town (July 20) and Cambridge United (July 28).
* Midfielder Scott Paterson cleared up at the club’s end-of-season presentation evening, winning the President’s Player, Manager’s Player and Players’ Player awards.