|Player Sponsor||Pauline England|
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|A lot of people on Merseyside know about FC United and respect whats happening here, says Adam Carden as he explains why he was drawn down the East Lancs Road to play for the club.
One day, I was chatting with my mates about the club and the huge crowds they get and then the next day I got a call from Karl Marginson asking me to come down. I thought it was one of my friends winding me up.
But Adam went along with Margys request for him to come to a training session and after a difficult start, the scouser has more or less cemented a place in the team.
Adams tenure at United began in September 2007 when he featured in a well fought-out 1-1 draw against Woodley Sports but just two weeks before he picked up a knock 12 minutes in to Uniteds FA Trophy clash against Bradford Park Avenue.
It was an injury that kept Adam out until December and even when he was back fit opportunities were limited mainly due to the amount of midfielders at the club. When the going gets tough, some players get going. However, Adam had found himself on the sidelines before in his career and he had every confidence in his abilities to force a way into the team.
Its very competitive in our midfield, especially in my ideal position wide on the right and I dont mind that. You want to be the best you can be and impress the boss as much as possible.
And impressing on a football pitch is what hes been doing right from an early age particularly with seven years spent at well-known junior club St Benets near Maghull, Merseyside.
Adam recalls: When I first started playing, like most of the lads round our way, we all looked up to Robbie Fowler. He played for Liverpool and would always put the goals in and we related to him because he was cheeky and one of us. He was someone you always dreamed of being like.
I enjoyed kicking the ball about on the streets and then I joined St Benets when my friends dad asked me to come down. I used to play up front and remember scoring on my debut.
The feeling of scoring was fantastic and coming home to tell everyone Id scored. After that, I always loved playing for them.
Adam also played for teams at Holy Rosie primary and Maricourt high schools, clinching the Merseyside Cup in only his second year of senior school his first taste of honours. He was also selected to represent his borough team, Sefton.
One of the best things about playing for the club was trips to Wales and Devon and even Holland and Germany, to play in tournaments. It was always a good laugh and I made some brilliant friends there.
One of Adams biggest inspirations throughout his playing days, has been his older brother Paul, who has enjoyed time at Blackpool, Rochdale and more recently Blue Square Premier side Cambridge United.
I used to come home from school and see Paul had been at training all day as a full-time professional and I always wanted to be like that. Hed bring his friends back to the house and I mustve drove them all mad because all I ever did was ask questions about football. I was always eager to learn.
Its weird now because I sometimes have some banter with him after our games and say how many did you play in front of today? and joke that FC drew a bigger crowd.
Unsurprisingly, when the crunch decision came about what Adam wanted to do after school, he had his sights set on following in his brothers footsteps.
Things didnt get off to the best of starts, however. After leaving school, he had hopes of signing a three-year YTS deal with Chester City, then in the Conference, but that turned sour and instead, Adam signed for Southport also in the Conference.
It was a really chaotic time because Id joined the youth team at Southport thinking I wouldnt like it because I had my heart set on Chester but it turned out to be better because it was full time and there was a lot more opportunity.
I ended up playing on the right wing regularly for the first time because, when we signed, the manager asked us where we played, about eight lads said up front, so I stuck my hand up for right wing and it turned out to be the right thing to do.
Adam impressed in the youth team and was one of only two players to get the call up for the reserves and, within weeks, he had earned a place on the bench with the second string. The manager, Mike Walsh, told me to come with the first team and I was shocked. And then it got even better or worse depending on how you look at it.
A lad got injured really early in the second half in a match against Northwich and I was convinced hed bring on one of the other two lads in that position who were tried and tested senior pros but he brought me on I didnt even bring my shin pads.
I remember playing against this huge left back, which was a bit of an eye opener. The first thing that came my way was a 50/50 and I was bricking it but I went into the challenge and he ended up having to be taken off injured.
That confidence improved Adams game well and his performances for the Sandgrounders ended up catching the eye of Manchester City scout Alex Gibson, which resulted in the then 17-year-old spending two weeks with the Premiership club.
It was unbelievable at first. Sometimes, youd be in seven-a-side games with Peter Schmeichel and Nicolas Anelka, which was a tremendous experience. Unluckily for me, Robbie Fowler had left a few weeks earlier.
I thought Id be out of my depth but then I realised that I was as good as players in my position like Lee Croft and Willo Flood but they never kept me on.
Adam returned to Southport but fell out of favour as the club won just two games out of 15 towards the end of the 2002/3 season, resulting in their relegation. He joined Runcorn after a short spell at Wigan but found it hard to get into a routine of training just two evenings a week compared with a full-time regime at Southport.
Adam stayed with Runcorn for a moderately fruitful season but he decided to make a fresh start elsewhere when boss Liam Watson went to Southport. His departure prompted Adam to join Accrington Stanley, where he spent the vast majority of his time languishing in the reserves with only the odd small cup tie giving him a chance to impress successful boss John Coleman but even in those efforts, things took a turn for the worse.
We were playing in a cup game against Burscough and I went in for a challenge and felt a crack on my ankle. I should have rested it but tried to carry on and when I went to cross a ball, it aggravated my leg.
Adam picked up a torn cartilage, which kept him out for about eight months and after a tough road to recovery, he parted company with the north Lancashire club to hook up with Burscough, where he enjoyed his best season of his career, culminating in a dramatic last-day promotion clinching the UniBond League Premier Division by a single goal on goal difference.
It was just one of those seasons when everything comes together. We had a great team spirit and it saw us through in the end. It was so tight at the top between us, Telford and Witton and we were playing against Telford away on the last day. There were about 6,000 there and we snatched it. Then we got the message through that Witton hadnt done enough. It was magic.
Depsite the success he enjoyed with the Linnets, Adam has had no regrets about joining FC United. After battling back from injury in his first few months at the club he came off the bench to score a dramatic last minute winner with his first touch against Newcastle Blue Star in March 2008.
Last season, despite the disappointment of missing out on promotion, Adam was voted player of the season by his fellow players. Something hes very proud of.
Weve got some very good players, so to be acknowledged by them is great. Im very much enjoying my time with Margy and the lads and I just hope we can gain promotion next season.
The atmosphere in the dressing room is superb, we all get on and the banter is quality. If wed have started the season how we finished it wed have definitely been promoted. Next year weve just got to put it right and go up as champions.
And Adam is convinced that the club will be able to hang on to the current squad of players to go for that assault on the title. He added: All the players know that this is the club to be at. We could go elsewhere for more money but I dont think any of us would leave unless it was for a league club. It would take something big for us to leave.
Where else can you walk out every week in front of two or three thousand fans who are constantly singing? They never get on your back either. Ive had a few bad games but they always support you. If anything, if we go a goal down the fans get louder.