THE BIG INTERVIEW

Brad Carsley in action against Brighouse Town Picture credit RUTH HORNBY
Brad Carsley in action against Brighouse Town Picture credit RUTH HORNBY
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Maybe Brad Carsley will one day become the subject of a famous footballing conundrum; which player got knocked out in the opening round of the FA Cup but then went on to play in the next round during the same season?

Maybe Brad Carsley will one day become the subject of a famous footballing conundrum; which player got knocked out in the opening round of the FA Cup but then went on to play in the next round during the same season?

Brad Carsley. Picture credit RUTH HORNBY

Brad Carsley. Picture credit RUTH HORNBY

No it’s not quite what you’re thinking – Bamber Bridge’s new striker has never circumnavigated the famous old competition’s stringent ‘cup-tied’ rules.

But when the 23-year-old lines up for Brig in this afternoon’s cup clash against Ashton Athletic, he will do so having suffered a KO in the previous round.

Carsley – signed by boss Neil Reynolds in the summer from Longridge Town after a prolific goalscoring spell in the West Lancashire League – was just a few minutes into his FA Cup debut against Brighouse Town at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium when he sickeningly collided head first with a concrete perimeter fence surrounding the pitch.

The freak incident rendered him unconscious as fellow players, fans and club officials frantically sought to help him. The match was delayed for a number of minutes as an ambulance rushed to his aid and transported him to hospital.

Fortunately – despite initial fears over the extent of his injuries – Carsley was later diagnosed with nothing more than concussion and he was allowed home the same day.

And happily for him he can now see the funny side of the scary episode – especially as his team-mates went on to do him proud in his absence by coming from behind to beat Brighouse 3-2.

It all means, Carsley – who has had to spend the last fortnight on the sidelines as a precaution – will get a second bite of the cherry in the famous old competition today – with a place in the second-round of qualifying on offer to him and his Brig team-mates.

“I have already been knocked out in the FA Cup this season,” said Carsley with a chuckle.

“But I am hoping that I and my team-mates don’t get knocked out against Ashton today.

“To be honest I don’t remember too much about what happened against Brighouse.

“I was knocked out for about five minutes.

“I remember hitting my head against the wall, but not much after that.

“I believe one of our players put me in the recovery position while an ambulance came.”

Despite not having much recollection of what happened immediately after the accident, Carsley can vividly remember the events which caused him to career into the wall.

“I had gone down the wing, beat my man and gone to put a cross into the box with my left foot,” he said.

“I put the cross in but the lad has nudged me in the back which caused me to fall off the pitch and into the concrete boarding.

“It was definitely very scary at the time when it happened.

“I am not used to going in ambulances.

“I have had injuries before which have caused me to go to hospital.

“I’ve had a few head clashes and split my head open, but that’s the first time I have been in hospital for a while.”

After a thorough examination, which involved a scan of his brain and spine, Carsley was relieved to hear that he had sustained nothing too serious.

And immediately thoughts turned to getting himself fit for Brig’s next match.

“The day after, my head and neck were a bit sore , “ he said. “I think I had a bit of whiplash, but other than that I was feeling pretty much okay.

“I felt fine to play and I was hoping that I would be able to play the following weekend, but the club and the FA got involved and said that I would have to wait 14 days.”

Having missed out on playing in the last couple of games, Carsley – who played in the 2-1 win over Radcliffe Borough on the opening day of the season and then notched his first goal in the thumping 6-1 victory over Goole the following week – is eager to get back on the pitch and show his worth to his new club.

After stepping up to the semi-professional game in the summer, he is ambitious to go as far as he can in the game.

“I love it at Brig,” he said. “The lads have all really took to me; training is really good and the backroom staff, the manager Renno, they have all really helped me out.

“The manager has been great; he’s very professional. I knew that it would be a step up from what I’ve been used to.

“Everybody is so much fitter and you get less time on the ball, but I’m enjoying it.

“I’m learning a lot and improving, but I’m looking to move up and play as high as I possibly can.

“I turned 23 last week so I’ve got time.”

One attribute which the Walton-le-Dale lad will always be able to call upon is his ability to be in the right place at the right time.

A born finisher, he scored nearly a century of goals for Longridge and he is eager to replicate that sort of goalscoring form for Brig.

“I always know if I get chances , I will score,” he said.

“When I was younger I was a centre midfielder but then I found out I was pretty good in front of goal,” he said.

“I would say I can hold the ball up and I’m fairly quick, but my biggest assets are my strength and my goalscoring.

“I’m a natural in front of goal – I take my chances.

“I was disappointed not to score against Radcliffe – I had a couple cleared off the line but then I got my first league goal against Goole.

“I got played through, one-on-one with the keeper, rounded him and stuck it away. It was a great feeling.”

Carsley – who attended Lostock High School – played junior football for BAC EE Preston and was picked up as a schoolboy player by Blackpool.

Unfortunately, he was released by the Tangerines at the age of 16 and he then had a spell at AFC Fylde before eventually joining his local club Lostock St Gerards.

From there he was snapped up by Longridge, who are managed by former Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion favourite Lee Ashcroft.

In two goal laden seasons at the Mike Riding Ground, Carsley led Town to the WLL Premier Division title last season after beating Blackpool Wren Rovers on the final day in a dramatic title decider.

He admits it was a big wrench to leave Town.

“I think I scored 90-plus goals in two seasons at Longridge,” said Carsley, who works as a window cleaner in the family business.

“I improved so much under Ashy – he taught me a lot. He was actually my first ever manager at Under-11s with BAC.

“I helped the club win the league last season when we beat Wrens on the final day.

“I think Ashy was disappointed to see me go , but he wished me well and said that he hoped everything goes well for me .

“I told him Bamber Bridge had been interested and that I wanted to give it a shot.”