Back in the summer of 2010 Wivenhoe’s squad of teenagers and young twenty-somethings were in need of an experienced head and leadership out on the pitch.
So the acquisition of a powerful thirty-one year old centre forward was just what the team needed.
Max Egbuna had previously played in Switzerland for Herzogenbuchsee and was a physically strong and powerful striker, who held the ball up fantastically well. He made an instant impact in the team as he also was not lacking in skill and his attributes were a more than welcome addition given the issues the team had previously had in the goal-scoring department. He gave the attack a focal point and in being able to hold the ball up well created time for team mates to join in forays into the opponents half of the pitch.
Max had joined Mo Osman’s Football 2000 team during the summer months, supporting the Junior Dragons courses run at the club, passing on advice and skills to local youngsters and his goal-scoring ability was soon in evidence for the Wivenhoe Town First Team.
As by far and away the most senior player in the squad Max was named captain, and led the team from the front. In his first five games for the club he netted three goals as the team secured thirteen points from their opening eight games, which included four wins. We went into our derby game at home to FC Clacton sitting in fifth place in the League Table – a most satisfactory start.
His first goal for the club came at Felixstowe & Walton United as The Dragons recorded a fine 3-1 win, with Wale Odedoyin and Markel Greenidge scoring the others. He was then on the scoresheet for the next two consecutive matches, first a 2-1 home win over Histon Reserves in front of a gate of one hundred and thirty four. The game was level until a powerful run from Max into the box through the heart of the Histon defence put him through on goal and he calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net to secure the points.
An excellent victory at Brantham Athletic three days later by the same score-line followed. Max gave Wivenhoe the lead when a well-flighted cross was flicked
on by him and looped over the home goalkeepers head. Coincidentally Markel scored the other goal in both games.
By October word of Max’s ability had spread around the footballing grapevine. He had made nine full appearances plus one as a substitute, scoring four goals in the process. Clubs from higher up the Non-League Pyramid were soon sniffing around, with Ryman League Aveley and Blue Square South Chelmsford City amongst them.
On the 16th October 2010 he played what we all thought was his final game for Wivenhoe Town, at Histon Reserves. Coming on as a substitute for the last twenty minutes he scored the second goal of the match in what turned out to be a 3-0 win for The Dragons, with Joe Hawkins getting a brace. A move to Chelmsford City had been agreed.
Manager said of Max “Myself and the players would like to wish Max the best of luck with his new challenge at Chelmsford City. He is a top bloke who has earned the respect of his fellow players and the love of the people of Wivenhoe Town FC in such a short space of time, he deserves his chance.”
Egbuna went on to make his debut for The Clarets on the Monday 18th October in an Essex Senior Cup Third Round tie with neighbours Witham Town at Melbourne Park. Although failing to find the back of the net, it was reported that he went close on occasions to opening the scoring before his side ran out narrow 2-1 winners in front of a crowd of three hundred and twelve.
The move didn’t last long however, as it was reported in the programme for the Grays Athletic Essex Senior Cup tie on the 2nd November that Max was officially back at Wivenhoe again. He had already played for The Dragons again at Ely City on the 30th October, coming on as a late substitute for Andy Gibbons in a 3-3 draw.
The side was still holding its own in the League Table as this point, sitting in 8th position with twenty-four points from eighteen games, having won, drawn and lost six games. Max was back amongst the goals at Great Yarmouth Town on 6th November, scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw. A report describes him picking up a huge clearance to strike through the middle of the home defence before firing past the ‘keeper in typical fashion.
A trip back home to Switzerland in late November saw him absent from the side as his appearances became somewhat sporadic.
In late January 2011 he had been away on holiday and was due to resume training again. He was to make only three more appearances for Wivenhoe before it was reported on the 8th March that he had finally left the club and returned to Switzerland.
Max’s last game at Broad Lane came in the 2-0 defeat by Felixstowe & Walton United, whilst his last appearance in a Dragon’s shirt was at Haverhill Rovers on 5th February 2011 in a narrow 1-0 defeat, during which he was substituted after sixty-five minutes, to be replaced by Daniel Charles. Fortunes for the team had changed and they had slid down the League Table reaching eighteenth place with twenty-seven points from thirty-two games, having not won in the League since 16th October against Histon Reserves.
In all he started fifteen games for Wivenhoe Town and came on as a sub on two occasions, scoring a total of five goals for the club.
I was last in contact with Max in June 2016, when he advised me that he was taking an enforced break from playing following knee surgery and he sent his regards to all the First Team and his fans at the club.
Max is the founder of a non-profit organisation, based in Switzerland, called Hope in Sports, which he formed to provide used sports equipment to less privileged athletes in Africa.
Max Egbuna – founder of Hope in Sports, based in Switzerland.
Having realised that there was a lot of sports materials in his country still in good condition, but no longer being used, Max had the idea to collect it, ship it out to African nations and then distribute it to sportsmen and women who were unable to afford or get access to decent equipment.
A wonderful gesture and typical of a man, who was highly thought of during his short time here at Wivenhoe.
With thanks to Richie Greenfield for contributing this article.