Ambitious Pursehouse takes step in right direction with Bradford Park Avenue move

Staveley Miners Welfare v Worksop Town'Inkersall Road, Staveley'14th January 2015''Staveley's Jahmal Smith bursts through the Worksop defence.''Pic by Dan Westwell
Staveley Miners Welfare v Worksop Town'Inkersall Road, Staveley'14th January 2015''Staveley's Jahmal Smith bursts through the Worksop defence.''Pic by Dan Westwell
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It was more surprising when Alex Pursehouse returned to Sandy Lane this season, than it was when he left this week.

The 22-year-old signed a contract with Bradford Park Avenue in a deal that was ratified by the FA on Tuesday night.

In doing so, Pursehouse announced his arrival in a league that he probably should have been gracing since the start of the season.

Instead, the former Kilmarnock man plied his trade in the NCEL Premier with Worksop – a club he will remember with a great deal of emotion.

Twice Tigers took him in.

When things didn’t work out north of the border, it was Mark Shaw who gave him a chance in last season’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier side.

Pursehouse responded by steadily improving throughout the 2013/14 campaign, becoming one of the club’s most reliable players.

Many thought he would join the likes of Leon Mettam, Shane Clarke and Tom Denton in the Conference North.

But when a trial at Tamworth failed to yield a contract, it was Shaw who welcomed Pursehouse back to Worksop.

After 72 appearances, and just one much talked about goal, the Sheffield lad explained why it was a tough decision to leave Tigers, but the right one.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said.

“I was happy at Worksop, the fans have been great with me, Mark Shaw has been brilliant and I couldn’t have played with a better group of boys.”

“But this was all about playing as high as you can, I want to better myself.”

“It was nothing to do with being unsettled, it just simply came down to playing at a higher level.”

Pursehouse freely admits he still harbours hopes of returning to the ranks of the full-time professional.

The right-back, who once featured against Glasgow Celtic, said: “After leaving Kilmarnock it was a big drop for me.”

“I always said I wanted to get back playing professional football, and this is a step in the right direction.”

“I don’t want to finish my career with what ifs, I want to know that I gave it my all.”

“It has been frustrating at times, especially in pre-season, most of the boys were getting moves and I was wondering what I was doing wrong.”

“I believed I could play higher, but sometimes you just have to get on with it.”

And get on with it he did, becoming arguably even more of a fan favourite in his second season at Sandy Lane.

The Worksop Town faithful’s adulation, and their almost religious tradition of making him man of the match, was not lost on the player.

“I’ve never felt appreciated and loved like I did at Worksop, by the fans and the manager,” he said.

“I got a bit of stick about never scoring, and then when I finally got one the crowd reaction, the way they seemd to enjoy it even more than me, it’s special things like that I’ll take with me.”

“I’ve got some great memories.”

“Playing in that team last season and challenging for promotion was great, but this season to play in a team that play good football, in the right manner, has been unbelievable.”

“There’s not one lad in that changing room who is big headed, it’s been a pleasure to play with them and they all know I’ll miss them.”

The footballing world is a small one, and a quirk of fate has seen Pursehouse join Bradford Park Avenue in the same week as another ex-Tiger, Craig King – a player with whom he had a memorable battle last season.

The duo will undoubtedly be excited at the prospect of Avenue’s game against Boston this Saturday, but Pursehouse will also keep an eye on the NCEL title race.

“I’ve enjoyed myself at Worksop, it’s like a family which makes it tough to leave, and I hope they push on to get the promotion they deserve,” he added.