Ben Purrington has three promotion medals – but the one he had put around his neck at Wembley in May is easily the best of the bunch.The 23-year-old left-back scored Charlton’s first goal in their League One showdown with Sunderland at the national stadium in May and they went on to win 2-1 and clinch a Championship return.
Purrington is now back with the Addicks on a permanent deal, flying out to Malaga last week for the club’s training camp after a deal was agreed with Rotherham United.
The Exeter-born defender posted a picture of his promotion medals on his Twitter site this summer.
But Purrington did not feel so involved when Rotherham or Plymouth Argyle celebrated going up.
“I played 25 games for Plymouth when they got promoted but I left at the end of January ,” he said. “I think they were top when I went. They carried it on and got it done.
“With Rotherham I played 10 league games [in 2018-19]. Okay, you are part of the group but when you don’t play it isn’t the same.
“Charlton is definitely the best of the three – scoring in the final and starting games in that six months. The others weren’t quite the same as that.”
Purrington’s celebrations were restrained when he tapped in Lyle Taylor’s cross in the 35th minute at Wembley. It was his first goal for Charlton and only the third of his career.
“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “It doesn’t happen very often! I was happy to score but I just ran to Lyle. It was a great ball in. All year round he was great on that side of things, I don’t know how many assists he got – but it was a lot. Karlan [Grant] would have had a few as well, because they set each other up for fun.”
Purrington’s social media had plenty of notifications from Charlton fans pleading for him to re-sign. But he still had 12 months to run on his contract with the Millers.
“It was nice to hear that they wanted me back at the club,” said Purrington. “But I didn’t know what was happening.
“You can’t say too much – if I had openly said I would love to come back then it would have been disrespectful to Rotherham if they had said they were going to keep me and that I’d be playing.
“I’m thankful to Rotherham for realising what I wanted to do.
“I knew the script there. Joe Mattock is a very good player and the year we went up to the Championship I only got 12 games.”
Purrington is hoping now that he can settle down after a nomadic existence.
Even his transfer to Charlton saw him race to Leeds Bradford Airport for his flight to Spain and then driving down to London this week.
“I’ve had about five addresses in the last few years,” said Purrington. “I’ve been at Plymouth, then Rotherham, a loan to Wimbledon, Charlton and then back to Rotherham – it’s been an eventful period.
“Hopefully that is the case [that he puts down roots] but you never know in football.”
Purrington has only played 10 times in the Championship compared to 54 and 52 in League One and League Two respectively. His taste of the level the Addicks face now has been brief.
Purrington said: “I was in a struggling Rotherham side, so I know how it felt to be a poor side in the division and how good the quality was.
“League One is a very good league – obviously there is a big jump, that’s inevitable when you get promoted.
“We’ve got players who have more experience than me of that level and I’d like to think that with those more experienced lads around we will be alright.
“We’ll be underdogs a lot more this season.
“When Rotherham went up last year you looked and were thinking ‘wow’. One week you’d be playing Middlesbrough and the next it would be Leeds. It’s just relentless.
“I haven’t really looked too much at the fixtures. You want to get off to a decent start.
“Rotherham had a pretty good start last season, and I don’t think they were in the bottom three until the last couple of months.
“You don’t know where momentum can take you. At times last season at Charlton we felt not unbeatable but like we were going to win games, which is a good feeling.”
The Addicks have lost quality this summer – Joe Aribo signing for Rangers and Preston landing Wembley match-winner Patrick Bauer.
“Aribo was unreal for us last season,” said Purrington. “Some of the stuff he did in training you thought ‘wow – what a player’.
“Pat was just solid at the back. He deserves the move he got, I guess.
“It means a bit of change, which is hard, but I’ve no doubt everyone at Charlton is working hard to get people in who will do as well, if not better, than they did.”
Purrington will face a battle with Lewis Page for that left-back slot with the former West Ham youngster, whose time in SE7 has been badly impacted by injuries, fit again.
“It’s going to be a fight to get in the squad, not just the team,” said Purrington. “Pagey is a very good player. I’ll push as hard as I can and play as best as I can to help the side to stay in the Championship and push on.”
PICTURE BY PAUL EDWARDS