Dropping out of the Football League is a fate an increasing number of young footballers experience each year.
From academy graduates, to full-time professionals, players filter down each rung of the footballing ladder. Some missing a step, others falling to the floor and out of the game for good.
When completing their takeover, Tadcaster Albion’s new ownership, i2i Sports, decided to make the club a base for players seeking deals in higher leagues.
The York-based company has licensed agents, picking up players at last chance exit trials before maintaining their fitness in Paul Marshall’s 2inpsire Park set-up.
It is the influence of such individuals, that the owners believe will lift table topping Albion out of the NCEL Premier and up through the Evo-Stik Leagues.
The first such signing was former Newcastle United trainee and Barnet midfielder Nicky Deverdics, who has hit a “stumbling block” in his career.
Released from London side Barnet in 2010, he found solace training at then Conference North side Blyth Spartans before three years exploring stadiums professionally across Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
His sweet left foot was spotted by Albion’s owners at a trial at Manchester City’s Etihad training facility last month. And since getting his signature on a dotted line, the midfielder has played in three straight wins for Marshall’s promotion seekers.
“Our aim is to get Nicky back into the pro game,” said Albion director Jimmy Gore.
“Tadcaster is a short temporary stop gap just to get games. Obviously that benefits us.”
Deverdics’ stay at Albion may not be for long, but he wants to help the side to a historic points tally and a league championship which would earn them promotion.
The last time he was part of a title winning side, at 19-years-old, his Gretna side reached the Scottish Premier League.
But 12 months, into his two-year contract at Raydale Park, the Scottish giants disbanded after owner and financial backer Brooks Mileson died.
Deverdics says: “Being so young, it was a steep learning curve.
“Going into administration, that was a side of the game I’d rather have early on in my career and learn from it.
“After being in that situation, day to day, you didn’t know if you were training the next day. You don’t know if the club was winding down or if it was going to be okay and someone was going to come and wipe the debt.
“You didn’t know if you were going to get paid that week, that month, at the end of the season or at all.
“It went from the meteoric rise from three successive promotions to not even existing.
“I had gone from having two years’ security and having no worries, to all of a sudden being out of contract and thinking, what’s going on.”
England ‘C’ manager Paul Fairclough then took the talent under his wing at League Two side Barnet, partnering him in a midfield alongside Yannick Bolasie, now at Premier League side Crystal Palace, Alber Adomah (Middlesbrough) and Neil Bishop (Blackpool).
“You can’t tell me that those three were carrying me,” Deverdics says.
“It just so happens that those three have gone on brilliantly. I feel like, in a different way, I could have been there with them.”
But a double hernia operation coupled with Fairbrace’s decision to step into a director of football role. And the 26-year-old was sent on his way after two years.
Without a club, he then joined a pal in pre-season training at then Conference North outfit Blyth Spartans. The summer soon turned into a year.
He reflects: “When I left Barnet after the second year. I was expecting only to go one way and that was up.
“It was a knock when I got released, but I didn’t have the right people around me at the time.
“As far as agents go people ask, do they make a difference, and in that situation, yes they do. I didn’t have anyone.
“I ended up playing a season for Blyth Spartans in the Conference North. That’s a step back of two leagues.
“In this country, when season in, season out so many players are getting released, playing part-time is dangerous for your career at the age of 22.
“You can get sucked into a great changing room and you end up playing a season. But it wasn’t the level I needed to be at.
“It was a waste of a year.”
Then, on hisagent’s advice, he spent two years travelling North West Europe, firstly BÍ/Bolungarvík in Iceland before a stay at TB Tvøroyri in the Faroes.
But, while he remained a professional, the trip north wasn’t a route back into Football League.
“As soon as you are out of the country, that’s even worse than being in the Conference North,” Deverdics adds. “You are not forgotten about, but you might as well be.”
Further disappointment was felt at the “shambles” of an exit trials, but the deal with Albion’s owners painted a silver lining.
At Albion, he could be six matches away from a second career championship. The six matches are also providing a shop window and fitness for another shot at the big time. A shot which is running thin on time.
He concludes: “As much as I’m doing it for fitness, I have to do it right for the club. If not, I’m doing myself an injustice and the club one too. While I am here, I’m going to give everything I can Hopefully while I am here, the lads can get positive results.
“My ambitions have never changed.
“I know where I want to be and I know where I should be,” he concludes.
“I should be back in the Football League. I have Football League quality.
“At my age now if I’m going to go and prove a point it has to be now. It can’t wait.”