Fit And Focused, The Tarpedo Is Now Set For Lift Off Again

It takes a football fan with a heart of stone not to feel empathy towards Dave Tarpey.

He always had a dream of becoming a Football League player. He thought it was over by his mid-20s. Just enjoy your football, they told him. Make a few extra quid doing something you love.

Then, after he turned 28, his phone rang. The chance he had waited his whole life for. After a blistering start to the 2016-17 season the Maidenhead United man was off to Barnet.

Only just, mind you. The then-League Two club got in within minutes of the transfer window and he signed a two year deal.

He managed only one Football League appearance.

“It’s hard to look back, but you can’t forever be saying ‘who knows’ and wishing things would have turned out another way,” he told us in the latest of our special summer features.

“I can’t think of many players who turn professional for the first time aged 28. I would have taken that four of five years ago!

“I played in the Football League and I can say my job for two years was a professional football. It’s always what I wanted.”

Here comes the heartache. Within five minutes of his home debut, he tore is anterior cruciate ligament. He was out for the entire campaign.

Then, with hope fresh for the next season, more agony. He needed a second operation after ripping his meniscus.

His recovery this time was quicker. He returned to Maidenhead on loan to get some games and then took in a more productive month at Woking.

That’s where he’ll be next season. Back at his old place of work in more ways that one.

“I’ve just re-started at my old job,” he said. “We fit security systems, it’s the place I was working before getting a professional contract.

“It’s a less physical role, but it’s actually a more senior position. I sat down with my partner at the end of last season and we discussed what next.

“I was unlikely to get another pro deal in reality, so I made what was a sensible decision to go back to work and back to my old job.”

Woking, he says, just fits - and the National League South Promotion Finalists will be hoping he can do for them what he was doing so well two years ago.

“I loved my month on loan there,” he said. “I think I played seven times in five weeks and I got a feel of what the club is all about.

“I actually didn’t want last season to end, it stopped too soon. I was playing games and starting to really feel good and then bang, it’s time for a break.

“When you have hardly played in 16 months and you start again, you wish you could just carry on.

“It’s been nearly two seasons since I played regular football and that’s my one ambition next year - to stay as fit as possible and to get back to scoring some goals.”

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