Top to bottom in a year

So the year is 2006 and as a 19-year-old boy I was at a Premier League club captaining the reserve team believing I was one step away from a first team debut. I was at Blackburn Rovers, a club with an amazing academy and a first team with plenty of academy graduates among its ranks. Little did I know what was awaiting me around the corner.

At the end of that season I was told that there would be no contract on offer and I was free to leave a club where I had spent the previous five years working my way through the clubs age groups. Football is a dog eat dog business and while you can feel on top of the world one minute it can come crashing down quickly and leave you wondering what has just happened.

The summer was upon me and I really didn’t have any idea what the football world was like never mind the real world so I tried hard to get myself a new team. After trials at Shrewsbury Town and Port Vale I decided to take the easy option and stay close to home by signing for Accrington Stanley. Looking back now I realise it was a bad choice but at the time I just wanted to stay near my friends and family and stay in my comfort zone. I should have moved away from my home and tested myself which would have allowed me to mature much quicker.

Another six months passed and after one minute of league football and a body that would represent one of the local builders rather than a footballer I found myself without a job again. Sat on my own in a local pub wondering how had I managed to get to this stage in my career so quickly?

In that very same pub is where my life started to change. One Saturday night the manager and chairman of local non league club Clitheroe FC stepped off their coach after an away game to find me sat in a dark corner alone. The chairman was the father of a girl I went to school with and the manager had taught me a few years before at college. They offered me the chance to go and play football again and help me get a smile back on my face. I took them up on the offer and never really looked back since.

So at the start of 2006 I was playing at a Premier League football club looking towards the Premier League and by the start of 2007 I was making my debut for a team with the same coloured kit but seven divisions lower. But this was also the start of me maturing as an adult and starting to climb back up the ladder.

I took the chance at Clitheroe before securing moves to both Northwich Victoria in the Blue Square Premier and Stevenage Borough where I secured promotion in my first season back into the football league.

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