STRIKER Lee Hughes has vowed to put his “special memories” of Kidderminster Harriers to one side and focus on firing Worcester City to victory on Boxing Day (3pm).
The 40-year-old hitman scored more than 70 goals in over 150 appearances at Harriers who he said helped to shape his career.
Hughes, who went on to play for West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, admitted he still “looked out for their results” and wanted them “to do well”.
However, when second-placed Kidderminster rock up at Bromsgrove’s Victoria Ground in Vanarama National League North, Hughes insisted they were “going to be taken down” by local rivals City.
“It will be nice to play against my old club,” said Hughes, who is expected to return to City’s starting line-up after overcoming a knee problem and bout of flu.
“I have got some special memories there and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have had the career I have had.
“But once the game kicks off, that’s it — I want to win so whoever is in front of us are going to be taken down.”
After joining Harriers’ youth set-up, Hughes quickly burst onto the scheme, making his debut aged 18 in 1994.
Three years later, he was snapped up by West Bromwich Albion where his prolific goal-scoring record earned him a £5million move to Coventry City in 2001.
He soon returned to the Baggies but his career appeared to be over when he was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving following a fatal crash in November 2003.
After serving time in prison, Oldham Athletic offered him a deal in 2007 before having spells at Blackpool, Notts County, Port Vale and Forest Green Rovers.
When Harriers came calling in February 2015, Hughes expected to play his final years at the club “where it all started”.
However, with financial uncertainty surrounding the club at the time, he quickly realised it was not the right place to be.
“I could not believe what was going on off the pitch,” he said.
“Players weren’t getting paid on time and supporters weren’t happy with the people who were in charge of the club.
“The manager (Gary Whild) said it was not worth me stopping and to be fair they didn’t even offer me anything.
“But I didn’t like playing in that environment.”
However, Hughes is convinced Harriers have now “turned a corner” with Colin Gordon as chairman and John Eustace and ex-City joint-boss Matt Gardiner at the helm.
“I still look out for their results and want them to do well,” said Hughes who had a brief stint at Ilkeston before signing for Worcester in September 2015.
“But I am really enjoying my time at Worcester so hopefully we can get one over them on Boxing Day.”
Hughes said he was hoping for a “good reception” from the travelling supporters and when he returns to Aggborough to face Harriers on New Year’s Day.
“Whatever happens will happen but the old chairman Colin Youngjohns always says to me if I had not moved to Coventry when I did the club would have gone bankrupt,” Hughes added.
“In all I think it was about £1.1million they got off me. It is always nice to repay them something because that’s where it all started for me.
“Hopefully it will be a good reception but we will see.”