Stuart Myall is hoping to celebrate promotion in May but it will not be to the dizzy heights of the Nationwide First Division, but rather from the Dr Martens Eastern Division.

Myall's present club Hastings Town are on course to go up and so are his former employers Albion, consequently the utility player is hoping for a double celebration in May.

The 27-year-old, who can operate in midfield and defence, has even penned the play-off final date in his diary and says he would love to go to Cardiff to cheer on his old club.

Myall insists he feels no bitterness for the club who he played for from the age of 11 at Albion's school of excellence only to be released in 1996 by manager Jimmy Case.

He made almost 100 appearances for the Seagulls during his six years with the club after being born and bred down the A27 at Eastbourne.

Following his debut in April 1993 for Barry Lloyd side's against West Bromwich Albion, Myall signed a professional contract the same month after graduating from the club's YTS scheme.

On his departure from Brighton, Myall arrived at the Pilot Field in Hastings following a fruitless spell at Brentford.

And while some players bemoan their bad luck or the manager's judgement for ending up in the non-league game, Myall's response is more philosophical, and in keeping with his past as an ex-head boy at the Cavendish School in Eastbourne.

He said: "I had a great time at Brighton. It was what I always wanted to do and I was at the Albion from a very young age.

"I had a really fantastic time and I was disappointed when I was released in 1996 because I had played quite a few games for the club. But we got relegated and Jimmy Case wanted to bring in his own players.

"I've no grudge against the club. It is a breath of fresh air to see them doing so well. For two or three years after I left it was a bad time for the club.

"I have never been to Withdean because I am always playing or I cannot get tickets. A couple of my mates are mad about the club and they still go and keep me posted. I am delighted to see them up there. I think the area needs a big club because of the catchment area. It is just a shame they cannot get their own ground. They could fill Withdean two times over for every game."

Myall does admit there are some aspects of League football that he does not miss at all.

"To be honest now I have come out of professional football it is a relief," he said. "I don't have a weight problem and I don't think about it at all, but in terms of the pro game it was an issue every day and the club made me very conscious of it.

"I'm naturally heavy and I would work on it every single day when I was at Brighton.

"I used to get ribbed about it and I didn't help myself when I said to The Argus that I love my food. I was young and naive at the time and it was a stupid thing to say. I still have the cutting, my mum keeps them all.

"When you look back at it, I think I could have worked harder and I wish I had worked harder, but when you make it as a professional you do take it for granted.

"You work so hard through your YTS to get your contract and when you do get it, you do relax but without realising it. I guess I did take my foot off the pedal a bit. Professional footballers are athletes 24 hours a day now.

"I would love to be a professional footballer, of course I would. But I am in my twenties, I'm heavy and It has been four years since I have been involved in full-time football. At the moment with the young kids coming through, clubs don't need anyone like myself.

"Unless you are scoring 40-odd goals a season it is difficult to get the attention of professional clubs."

Albion's loss has been Hastings Town's gain and Myall has gone on to make nearly 200 appearances for the East Sussex side.

He is an integral part of George Wakeling's team as they push for promotion to the Dr Martens Premier Division and Myall still possesses an excellent long throw that used to trouble sterner defences than the likes of Burnham.

Myall has found his place in midfield at the Pilot Field after playing in numerous different roles for Albion.

And he is addressing the other variable in his life. Having turned his back on his childhood dream of being a pro, Myall is retraining these days as a PE teacher.

The Hastings player is a few months into a four-year course at Brighton University and he is set to graduate in 2005 with his QTS.

"I've done a few desk jobs but it's not really for me. I used to work for a computer company but I thought it is about time I started doing something I enjoy.

"I have spent the last few summers coaching football in the States in Atlanta and then Chicago, I spent three months there each time and I love working with youngsters. That gave me the incentive to retrain."

With his athletic ability and easy manner Myall has the attributes to be an excellent PE teacher and you can imagine him being sympathetic to the children with heavier builds.