Scarborough Athletic skipper Dave Merris on early-season frustration, goals, banter and the push for promotion

Dave Merris in action against Farsley
Dave Merris in action against Farsley

Scarborough Athletic skipper Dave Merris has put his early-season frustrations behind him to cement his place in Steve Kittrick's starting line-up.

Having been a regular in last season's promotion-winning campaign, the 38-year-old found himself on the bench when the new term got underway.

Dave Merris in action

Dave Merris in action

Since then, Merris has dug in, gritted his teeth and fought his way back into his manager's plans, as well as playing his part in pushing Boro to the top of the Evo-Stik Premier.

"When you are left out of the team it is frustrating because all you want to do is play football," he said.

"I've been in this position a few times in my career. Sometimes it is down to tactics and sometimes it is because of another reason.

"From what I've learned over the years, you just have to work hard in training and show the reason why you should be back in the team.

"It can affect you confidence, so it is important that you keep believing in yourself.

"I'm obviously delighted to be back in the team again and I'll just continue doing what I do."

In recent seasons Merris has become renowned for his screaming strikes from distance that have given the keeper no hope.

We have yet to see any of them this term, but he has promised that they are on their way.

He added: "I've got to wind up the old leg first. I don't think I started them until November last season, so we are getting there.

"My role is a little different this season though, it isn't as attacking as when we won promotion, which is probably down to the league we are in.

"I still love playing though, in fact I'm enjoying it more than when I was a teenager.

"It just seems a bit easier than it used to, which is probably down to the fact that I know more about the game.

"The way I'm feeling I could carry on for a bit longer as well.

"I've always looked after myself, which has helped and, touch wood, I've kept clear of injuries.

"From the start of my career I've tried to do things right, like eat the right food, hydrate and I rarely drink. That seems to have helped me."

Merris is also enjoying being in the Boro dressing room, which he describes as one of the best he has sampled.

"It is a great dressing room, the crack and the togetherness is spot on," he said.

"I think that has showed over the past few weeks, apart from that game against Farsley, which we'll just call a blip.

"The fact that we all get on is definitely helping us on the pitch and I think we still have another gear to move into this season.

"There are some big characters in there. Wally (James Walshaw) thinks he's a bit of a funny man, but he's more of an annoyance than anything.

"We have a fine school, which helps as well because we are constantly stitching each other up.

"It is for when lads turn up late, wear the wrong kit or if they have dirty boots.

"It works out quite well though because it pays for a night out at Christmas or at the end of the season, which is all team bonding.

"There are some long trips to games this season, but the bus journeys are a good laugh as well.

"Everyone has different routines. There are the lads that play cards and the ones that just sit and chat.

"My routine is usually to get some kip. That was definitely the case when the kids were a bit younger. It was the perfect chance to catch up."

After a hugely positive start to the season, Merris is now keen for Boro to push on and finish the job.

He said: "If somebody said to us at the start of the season that we'd be top of the league in November, we'd have obviously taken that.

"There are teams with games in hand, but I'd much rather have the points on the board.

"We have finished the Tuesday night games now, whereas teams like Warrington still have a fair bit of catching up to do.

"We can't take our foot off the gas, we have to keep picking up result after result to keep us on track and keep that pressure on the teams around us.

"If we can keep doing that then it will definitely be another positive season for the club."

Steve Kittrick's column: https://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/news/steve-kittrick-young-guns-make-it-a-positive-night-1-9433815

Young guns shine for Boro: https://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/news/youngsters-shine-on-boro-debuts-1-9433747