This season Tuffley Rovers have had a number of young players introduced into their First Team squad, including a number of players promoted from the U18s side and one player who has taken his chance with both hands is forward Niall Priday.
Priday has come through the youth ranks at Rovers and has scored 116 goals in 113 appearances for sides in the Tuffley youth set up, earning himself a call up to the First Team by manager Mark Pritchett with a string of impressive displays for both the U18s and Reserves side at the start of this season.
After playing for both the U18s and First Team so far this week, we spoke to Priday about his rise at the club.
“This season has been a good season for me personally and for the club, but of course it could be better,” Priday said.
“For the Reserves and U18s combined I’m on 19 goals, but as a striker you always eel like you should have had more. Being able to chip in with a couple for the Firsts is obviously a highlight too!”
Priday has caught the eye of teammates, coaches for each side he has played for as well as spectators – including us here at Severn Sport and has thanked everyone at the club for their support and belief in his ability.
“Playing for Tuffley First Team really means a lot to me. When you play for the U18s and even the Reserves you want to be playing in that First Team and when you have spent all of your years at youth level at the club like I have, you have to take that chance.
I just want to carry on and impress Pritch and Coxy [First Team coach Rich Cox] and everyone who has supported me at the club,” Priday added.
Over the last few weeks Priday has been given more and more game time in the Hellenic Premier squad and after notching his first goal for the side in their cup win over Thornbury Town last month, Priday admits he has seen a difference in his own game and has praised his teammates and coaches for seeing a number of young players coming through with the forward.
“Since being with the Reserves and First Team I feel like my pressing has improved and I’ve learned when to press, unlike last season when it didn’t really come into my game naturally. Also, I feel like I protect the ball a lot better after playing against some really good defenders in the Hellenic League.
It’s exciting at the club right now as we have some really good players, as you guys at Severn Sport have seen. I think that two or three of us have already made the step up this season, with Char and Birdy [Charlie Holliday and Josh Bird] being named in the team.
They are unbelievable players and both really nice people as well which helps when you are looking to make that step up. All of the young players though have improved under Jamie, Mike and Craig [Development coaches Jamie Hyett, Michael Palmer and Craig Darkin] because they really do want the best for us and will do all they can.
Also with Sam Hill in the First Team help outs and has always been patient with the young players in the squad and gives us the belief to show what we are capable of,” Priday said.
So what is next for Priday as he continues his development at Tuffley Rovers? Well he admits that whilst he may not necessarily play for the First Team every week, his focus is on continuing to perform for the club.
“I want to just play, score and win as much as I can and from a personal perspective my dad has always said I’ve never scored 50 goals in a season at any level like he used to, so it would be nice to get that one over him.
But whilst I am with the First Team at the minute, I know that I’m still developing so I just want to finish as high as I can in the table for whichever side I am playing in,” said the 17-year old.
Priday is set to be included in the Tuffley Rovers side against Burnham in the Hellenic Premier on Saturday 26th October; kick off 15:00.