Injuries are any footballer’s worst nightmare. And for some, it is the catalyst that is the end of the road of their playing career. Luke Douglas knows that idea all too well.
Despite having played for numerous clubs including The New Saints and second tier sides Conwy, Holywell and Flint, the time had come to drop down the levels. After an injury curtailed his playing time, Douglas decided to drop down a level and play in the Welsh National League to join Saltney,
Despite how difficult the decision was, Douglas knew it was the right one.
“Having been injured and struggling to get game time I knew it was my time to just drop down and get some minutes back under my belt. Playing full back took its toll and with Jake Gibbons giving me the opportunity to play further upfield in centre mid, I grasped at the chance. With the club being local lads and my mates from the village to the commitment issues currently with work, it seemed a no brainer.
The quality already in the league has seemed to improve, with money evidently being piled into numerous clubs. Paying to play football at the town was a struggle to get used to at first, but we all do it because we love it.”
The change has been a testing one for the midfielder, but after seeing first hand the quality the league has to offer, the player is excited at the prospect. The only thing Douglas has on his mind at the moment however is enjoying his football and enduring Saltney football club are putting their name on the map.
“Hopefully with all the new additions to the Saltney squad, and the added attention from recent results against the “bigger” teams, it’ll bring the town onto the map. With the new addition of our beloved stand, you may now be able to distinguish that there is now a football pitch in the middle on the sandy lane fields! On a personal level, again it’s the enjoyment and just the relaxed yet serious attitude we have within the club.”
Despite his current ambitions, Douglas doesn’t shy away from reflecting on his time with The New Saints’ academy. Having spent a number of years at the Oswestry based club, he collected a number of experiences that he will never forget. Travels in the UEFA Champions League and matches in front of 30,000 particularly stand out for the Saltney player, however he notes how important the coaching standard was for his development.
“From working with Steve Evans and Scotty Ruscoe in the youth team, to Craig Harrison in the first team, I was lucky enough to have some of the best guidance from probably some of the best coaches in the Welsh system. Travelling to training each day in a car school with Kai Edwards, Matty Williams, Connell Rawlinson and Ryan Edwards, brought enjoyment and there was many a life lesson learnt during this half hour journey to say the least!
With two WPL medals, a Welsh cup medal and the experience of travelling with the squad to the away trips in the Champions League to Bratislava and not forgetting the Legia Warsaw game, in front of 30,000 spectators, is something which makes you appreciate the time I spent there! Training every day for a living as well, what more could a young lad have wanted!”
Academy football always throws up its challenges, and the biggest one for coaches is to ensure they can develop all the players to be ready for the professional level. However, as Douglas is well aware, it is not always the case and whilst many flourish, many often don’t quite make the grade.
Whilst playing for the Welsh Premier League champions, Douglas was good friends with ex TNS pro Scott Quigley. And having spent time with the player, he was delighted to see former Quigley get his move to the Football League with Blackpool.
Douglas insists that Quigley is only achieving his potential and his hard work has made him worthy of the move to the English Football League outfit.
“I am made up for the lad; we were close during our time at the tins as well as having spent time together in college. It’s ace to see him, ‘eventually’ fulfil his potential and be where he deserves to be, I wish him all the best! It’s a long long way off them end of season Maga trips!”
However, for now, Douglas’ aim is to continue enjoying his football and ensuring Saltney get three points come a Saturday afternoon.