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Born: 17 May 1966
Came from: Leyton Orient Went to: Birmingham City
First game: 24 October 1992 Last game: 06 May 1995
Appearances: 120 (117/3) Goals: 39
Barrel-chested, with the thighs of an ox and golden, slicked-back hair, Steve Castle could have walked straight out of the 1950s - when men were men and the footballs were made of bear hide. But it was in 1990s football that Castle embarked on a career that promised much at its outset but probably fell short of delivering its potential.
Born in Barking, London, two months before England won the World Cup, Castle progressed through the ranks at local club Leyton Orient – going on to make almost 300 appearances for them and attracting interest from Wimbledon (the Crazy Gang version) and Liverpool. But it was to the rather more modest surroundings of Home Park where Castle made his next move.
Peter Shilton was seeking a midfield general to rally his new-look squad following relegation from the second tier in 1992. On the advice of a scout, he took in a game at Brisbane Road and left at half-time, instructing Argyle director Denis Angilley to start negotiations as he had “seen enough” of his target. A £225,000 transfer fee duly paid, Castle headed to Home Park and was promptly injured in a pre-season friendly. Argyle fans would have to wait until late October to see their new midfield marvel in meaningful action, but it turned out to be well worth the wait. He scored on his debut, and by season's end had notched up 12 more. He continued in a similar vein the following season as Argyle marched to the playoffs, bagging 16 goals by Christmas and eventually ending the campaign with 22. The undisputed highlight of his Argyle career (and one of his own personal highlights, incidentally) was a record-breaking hat-trick in a fine 3-2 win at Stockport County in December 1993. His three goals in six second-half minutes were an astonishing feat and one that confirmed his place as a firm favourite of the fans. Indeed, 'Super Stevie Castle' became Home Park's undisputed golden boy thanks to his barnstorming, all-action style and a left foot that developed an intimate relationship with the back of the net.
However, the playoff defeat to Burnley led to a disastrous fall from grace for Castle, as well as his team-mates and his high-profile manager. Stripped of the club captaincy in the pre-season of 1994 after suggesting to his manager that he might fancy a move elsewhere, Castle featured in the club's comically bad start to the 1994-95 season before contracting a mysterious bout of jaundice that kept him out of action for five months. By the time he returned in February 1995, Shilton was history and Argyle were fighting for their lives at the wrong end of the table. The former skipper managed just one goal between his February return and the end of the season, and was a shadow of his once formidable former self; the jaundice having wrecked havoc on his strength and stamina levels.
With The Pilgrims duly relegated to the basement division for the first time in their history, a mass exodus of talent was inevitable – and Castle was one of the first out the door. Barry Fry shelled out £275,000 to take him to Birmingham City, but he lasted just two seasons at St Andrew's after failing to establish himself in the first team, and he was allowed to join Peterborough United as a player-coach in 1997. After three years at London Road, during which time he won promotion at Wembley in the last ever match at the old stadium. Castle drifted into non-league football with Stevenage Borough and then St Albans.
In 2006 Castle became assistant manager at Cambridge United under Jimmy Quinn before then returning to one of his previous clubs, St Albans City, where he managed from 2008 until 2011 before becoming the boss at Hertfordshire-based Southern League side, Royston Town.
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APPEARANCE DETAILS [reselect competitions]
The details below reflect appearances in all first-team competitions.
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