THOMAS Crawley is yet another young player who hopes to use Derry City as a stepping stone to greater things in his football career.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The 21-year-old, from Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin, will sign a one season contract at the Brandywell this afternoon, his first visit to the Lone Moor Road ground.
Having now completed his first “proper season” with Longford Town last year, the left-sided midfielder realises that he has quite a lot to live up to given the previous occupiers of his favourite position.
With Longford finishing in third spot in the league table, Crawley certainly played his part in keeping the Flancare Park club prominent but a surprise call from Derry City was warmly welcomed.
“I got the call and Declan (Devine) travelled down to meet me just over month ago,” said Thomas. “At that stage I had made plans to go on trial with a number of clubs and while I was keen to go on trial, the fact that Derry had expressed an interest made me sit up and take notice.
“I’ve never been to the Brandywell, but I’ve watched the team play and I realise it’s a big club and, if I’m to be honest, a natural stepping stone for me.
“Derry’s record in developing young players over the past few years has been significant and I learned much more about that having spoken to Declan.
“We agreed that I would go on trial, see how I got on and if a move to England or Scotland didn’t work out, then a move up North to Derry was certainly worth considering,” he added.
He felt it was very important that young players hoping to step up in standard join the right type of club, insisting that Derry City was right up there in that regard.
“Derry’s record in preparing players for full-time football across the Channel is well known in the League of Ireland.
“And as a left-sided player, I’m fully of the quality of both James McClean and Stephen McLaughlin, so I think I have big shoes to fill.
“Other players have also moved to English clubs and if I’m to be totally honest, I would dearly like to get the chance to play as the highest level possible.
“I turned 21 last September and I think the time is now right for me to move on. I’m delighted that Derry made the approach as I think the club will suit me and from what I’ve heard from other players, I’ll be joining a top club with a strong dressing room.
“While the club has now earned a remarkable record for selling players on, Derry City still attempts to remain competitive and I think that’s superb.
“They won the FAI Cup last season after defeating St. Pat’s, a club I came through as a young player and they’ve qualified for Europe, so there’s plenty to look forward to in 2013,” declared Crawley.
Having also played at left-back, the Dubliner sees himself more established on the flank but he’s keen to add a goal threat to his curriculum vitae.
“It was interesting speaking to Declan on Sunday last when he talked about Stephen McLaughlin’s ability to score goals from the flank.
“And Declan suggested that he would be expecting me to get into the box and having a go for goal in addition to taking on the full-back and getting a cross into the danger area.
“So having coached wingers such as McClean and McLaughlin, I think Derry will have their ideas as to how I can fit into the set-up.
“I also realise that workrate a key ingredient to play in the Derry team and my priority is to get established as soon as possible and try to make the left-sided jersey my own.”
Keeping his fingers crossed that things will work out for him, Crawley viewed the Derry switch as the biggest move of his career so far.
“Hopefully it will work out for me. I know I’ll be joining a top club with a great record and a very good bunch of lads.
“I’ve heard quite a lot about the Brandywell and the crowds Derry attract, but I’ve never played at the venue and that will be another great experience for me.
“I didn’t really fancy moving to Scotland, but I’ve got myself sorted out for the 2013 season. I’ll be arriving in Derry on Tuesday (today) to sign the contract and I’ll be residing in Derry.
“I see the move as a great opportunity for me and I intend to take advantage of getting the chance. I can’t afford to take anything for granted as I will be played with top players, but I’m really looking forward to the experience.
“I’ve got a lot to live up to given the players have been there before me, but all I can ask is to get the chance to impress and I’ll be doing everything in my power to do just that,” he concluded.
Crawley will be accompanied to Derry by former Dundalk striker, Marc Griffin, who remains keen to sign for the Brandywell club provided agreement with the Oriel Park side can be secured sooner rather than later.
Derry City Open Trials
Derry City are holding an open trial for players to represent the club in conjunction with the Derry & District Youth Football Association in the under-14 section of the National League for the 2013/2014 season.
The trial will be held at Magee playing fields on Sunday, January 27th from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. All players born between January 1st and December 31st 2000, are eligible to attend.
Players should bring boots, shinpads and training kit. The players selected to represent Derry will have the added advantage of also being eligible to play in the D&D and represent the city in the prestigious Foyle Cup competition.
For further information please contact Raymond Soal 07720314587.