Fleet fans warmed to him in a flash when he scored on his debut against Hyde last season. And Dartford fans did likewise when he notched a hat-trick against the same opposition at the weekend.
The Princes Park goal machine – he scored on his debut v Salisbury for the Darts as well as Saturday’s hat-trick – has not yet been given permission by parent club Scunthorpe to play in the FA Cup clash at Stonebridge Road.
He spoke to EUFC.co.uk’s Ed Miller about life at Stonebridge Road as a Fleet player, his current spell at Dartford and his thoughts on the forthcoming North Kent derby…
As a current Dartford player, I don’t suppose there’s any point asking you where your loyalties lie this weekend…
Obviously it’s a difficult one because I had an extremely good and successful time at Ebbsfleet last year and enjoyed every moment. However, I’m really enjoying my time down at Dartford to so my loyalties will be lying with my current club. But it’s just typical knowing that when the draw was made that the two clubs would be drawn against each other.
While an ex-Fleet player moving to Dartford or vice versa is hardly the same as, say, a Celtic player moving to Rangers, have you had any ribbing about the fact you’ve played for rival clubs?
No, luckily, I’ve been very fortunate in receiving all good feedback from both sets of fans wishing me well and congratulating me on my hat-trick on Saturday. I think the fans understand I just want to play football whether that’s at Ebbsfleet or Dartford or anywhere for that matter.
How’s the spirit in the Dartford camp? There’s lots of talk about a lack of firepower with injuries and then obviously your possible ineligibility…
The spirit is very good around the place. I’ve never been in such a dressing room where everyone is bubbly and having a laugh together. Obviously there are injuries but every club has those. It’s just how you deal with it – and with Dartford’s squad I can’t see that being a problem.
You probably know more about the Darts team than the Fleet given only four players survive from your spell at Stonebridge Road. Who are the match-winners in the Dartford side?
Well there are a lot of leaders in the side and players that have had two or more promotions with the club. You’ve got players that on the day can cause any teams problems.
And assuming Tony Burman and the players have watched any Fleet DVDs from this season, who are you aware of as carrying the threat for the home side?
As of yet we haven’t sat down and watched any DVDs as a team but I’m guessing the gaffer will have. To be honest, I don’t really know many of the Ebbsfleet side this year other than the four as you mentioned earlier so I’m not too sure as far as the Fleet are concerned.
Do you keep in touch with any of your Fleet teammates from last season?
On Twitter I speak to Joe Howe a bit, so yeah, I do… but mainly Tom Phipp. We send each other texts and keep in touch. We started to car share when I was at Ebbsfleet so I do keep in touch with Phippsy.
Was it clear from your loan spell last season that the club was on its last legs and struggling desperately on and off the field?
In my first spell down at the club it wasn’t really noticeable. I think we went three games on the trot without losing and everyone was bubbly and enjoying their football. However, the second spell I spent down there I think it was quite obvious the club was struggling financially and of course if the players are unsure about getting paid or their futures, then it can have an affect on the pitch.
How do you look back on your time at the Fleet now? Was it beneficial to you as a player?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time down there in both spells. Obviously when I’m scoring goals and playing games then I’ll be enjoying my football. The lads were brilliant and really made me settle in. It gave me that experience of playing first-team football, week in week out. Of course it was beneficial because I was getting noticed and so called back by my parent club Scunthorpe – and in the end started the last six or seven games of the season.
What’s your best memory of your time at the Fleet?
It would probably have to be my debut goal against Hyde, coming on as a second-half substitute while losing 2-1, then being involved in making it 3-2 and getting the winner in the 87th minute to make it 3-2. However, being a Scunthorpe player I also enjoyed scoring the equaliser for the Fleet against Grimsby.
And the most disappointing?
The most disappointing part would have to be the first time I got called back to Scunthorpe. I didn’t really play when I went back and could of carried on my run in front of goal.
Have you been back to Stonebridge Road or seen anything of the transformation of the club since you left last season?
No, Saturday will be my first time and I’m looking forward to catching up with some familiar faces.
You’re a Kent lad yourself so probably aware that this is arguably the county’s biggest derby match and possibly the FA Cup’s biggest game so far this season. Do players get carried away like supporters or is the approach for Saturday ‘just another game’?
I think the players know that Saturday isn’t just another game. It’s the biggest game for the fans for obvious reasons so that inspires the players – but also the opportunity to get into the first round of the FA Cup is a huge incentive.
Who did you support growing up? And did you see much of the Kent non-league scene as a youngster?
I’m an Arsenal fan so, no, I didn’t really see much non-league football as a youngster until I started playing in it!
As a loan player, how frustrating is it for you when (or if!) you can’t play in big games like this or – as happened last season at the Fleet – you get recalled just as you’ve got going in some cases?
Yes, it is incredibly frustrating but at the end of the day I have to respect Scunthorpe’s decision as I’m their player – so if they don’t want me to play I have to respect that.
You’ve been with The Iron for, what is it, about six years or more now since you were a teenager? How do you see your future at Scunthorpe? They obviously value you given their decision not to let you play in the FA Cup. Could you ever see yourself playing back in Kent more permanently in the future?
My aim for now is to continue what I’m doing for Dartford and getting noticed by Scunthorpe. I’ve had an injury at the start of the season which hindered my place in the Scunthorpe side so my first aim is to play first-team games, and start in the Football League. However, if I’m allowed to stay down here with Dartford to get even fitter and score more goals then I’ll respect that also.
Coming down and playing in Kent would be brilliant for family reasons and my girlfriend lives down here. My aim is to play as high as I can – so League football will be my first priority but if nothing come about then down here would be the first place I’d look.
And, finally, a prediction for Saturday as your two most recent clubs go head to head?
I’m going to go for a feisty draw – 1-1 or 2-2.