Darren Sarll was pottering around the pitch for St Albans City nearly 15 years ago and it suddenly hit him.
Young, up and coming and with ambition – usually it’s that point you are still dreaming of a Football League future.
The Glovers manager was, but not with his boots on.
“I was a central midfielder, not a bad one but not a great one either,” he said.
“I was alright with the ball but I never moved past the half-way line! I was that type of player, and the Conference South suited me.
“Problem was I was playing on the edge, and sometimes it wasn’t great for me. So I started to think more about the future even at that stage.
“I wanted to go into coaching, I knew that from an early stage. But playing twice a week and all the training, alongside my job, it was hard to find the time.
“I was starting to try and put my views across and it probably wasn’t what the club’s manager wanted! I couldn’t be that know-it-all young player who wouldn’t be quiet.
“I didn’t want to be average at two things, so I decided to try and become good at one. It wasn’t an easy call to give up playing on Saturdays, but I knew I had to if I wanted to take my coaching further.
“It was a conscious decision to stop playing. I fell into love with coaching and I think because I went in early with it, I have used these ten years to get a head start.”
He’s 36, one of the youngest managers on the circuit.
Falling into it at Stevenage at the age of 32 – an EFL baby with many of his players older – there was still so much to learn.
“I was head of youth for three years and I knew everyone at the club – from the chairman to the ladies who worked behind the tea bars on matchdays,” he adds.
“The club were in trouble down the bottom. Let me tell you, there is so much pressure in that situation.
“You didn’t want to be the person to cost people their jobs by getting relegated. But I learned so much at a young age.
“Now I’m trying to take that experience into the job at Yeovil and so far I’m loving every minute of it.”
Being in contention when the bookies weren’t expecting it hasn’t totally surprised Sarll.
“I’m just a normal guy, but I do like to think I add some authenticity to it all,” he adds.
“When I was at Stevenage, maybe I couldn’t be myself because of the pressure involved in keeping a club in the EFL.
“Now, I’m more me. I laugh when I want to, and I criticise when I want to. I can be more myself and bring that to the job. Hopefully that has helped, especially with the players who let me tell you are a wonderful group.
“Being where we are in the table is nice but do you know the best thing is? The team have totally re-connected with the public.
“There wasn’t really a relationship there last season but now I think that’s all changed. Winning helps of course, but so does personality and performance. They want a committed team and that’s what we’ve seen.”
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