ANTHONY ELDING claims he has nothing to prove to Derry City fans despite agreeing his short time spent on Foyleside ended prematurely and in failure.
The 32 year-old English man was released by Derry City after five months last June having scored just twice in 11 appearances, but he quickly found a new home at Sligo Rovers last week where he once starred during his first season in the League of Ireland in 2013.
He came off the bench late on in Sligo’s 4-0 win over Drogheda on Friday night to score from the penalty spot and he’s hoping to revitalise his career after spells with Cork City, Derry and Ballinamallard didn’t quite go to plan.
And he is presented with the perfect chance to show Derry City boss Peter Hutton he isn’t finished as a striker when the ‘Bit O’ Red’ host the Candy Stripes in a huge relegation clash at the Showgrounds tomorrow night.
“I never look to try and prove people wrong,” he said. “It’s a game I’m looking forward to. ‘Pizza’ gave me the opportunity to come to a fantastic club in Derry. I’d like to prove myself right.
“It’ll be great to see a few of the lads. Both teams are looking for three points and I’m going to help Sligo.
“There’s nothing there to prove,” he added. “I know what I can do and Peter knows what I can do that’s why he brought me there in the first place. It just didn’t work out.
Although disappointed that ‘it didn’t work out’ at Brandywell, Elding claimed he wanted to stay but his performances weren’t good enough to justify his retention.
He’s insists he has no hard feeling for his premature exit but he’s determined to help Sligo beat the drop this season.
“It’s not a case of sour grapes towards Derry, it’s another game of football and an opportunity to get three massive points for Sligo. As a striker, you’re only really as good as the service you get. At Derry we weren’t playing that well as a group.
“We lost a few games and didn’t get the ball wide and into the box as much which suited my game. We had players like Stephen Dooley injured so it affected me and everybody.
“It was the same with Cork. I would have loved to have gone there and made an impression but sometimes it doesn’t always go your way. I have no grudges at Derry. I really enjoyed my short time there. At the end we came to an agreement to part ways.
“I wanted to play and score goals but the situation the club was in, we weren’t playing the type of football which was benefiting me as an individual. It was about the team and the group so it wasn’t going to be based around me as one player.”
With Mickey Adams’ appointment as manager last week creating a ‘buzz’ around the Showgrounds, Elding is hoping it marks the start of a winning run for Sligo and he feels he can help shoot the club towards safety.
“We’re going all we can to get out of this relegation situation. People in Sligo are pleased to see me back and it’s nice to feel wanted again. The last few seasons has been about me going away and proving myself and it’s been a nightmare for me. I’m back at Sligo and I’m going to work hard and do my best for the club.
“It’s a bit of surprise to see someone of Mickey Adams’ stature come to Sligo. If you look at his CV and what he’s done in the game it’s phenomenal.
“Sligo are obviously looking to go in the right direction. Since I was here last time around in 2013 I haven’t seen the buzz around the place like there is at the moment.
“That’s rubbing off on the players. And having people like Alan Rogers here who has played in the Premier League, coming over from England and giving their experience to the young lads at Sligo, is having a positive effect. In terms of training it’s been superb.”
To see Derry City and Sligo Rovers battling against the drop is a scenario Elding claims just shouldn’t be happening for clubs of that stature but he believes both clubs will steer clear of trouble.
“There’s some quality players at Derry City and like Sligo, they’re a team who shouldn’t be in the bottom two. The table doesn’t lie and while winning is a habit so is losing. There’s certainly quality at both clubs to be challenging at the top end of the table.
“With Derry now kicking on after two fantastic results, Sligo must do the same after Friday’s result.”
Elding has fond memories with Sligo Rovers having scored the winning goal in the FAI Cup Final in 2013 and he’s hoping his second stint can prove just as fruitful.
“I would say it was my best time in the League of Ireland when I was last at Sligo.
“I haven’t been the same player since leaving. I had an injury at Cork, an injury at Ballinamallard and when I was Derry I was trying to get myself fit and back to my best and to be honest, it just didn’t work out.
“It’s all about looking to the future and getting the opportunity to come and play football again until the end of the season and I’m grateful for it.”