Elding relishing new career with Mallards

Mallards boss Whitey Anderson
Mallards boss Whitey Anderson

He has signed for his 16th senior club, but despises the term ‘journeyman’.

He maintains he has only ever been a valued commodity, only ever bought and sold, but wants the freedom of part-time football.

The Irish League is about to be introduced to the assured Anthony Elding.

For football fans in Fermanagh, last week’s news he had signed for Ballinamallard United was the biggest reason to get excited since promotion in 2012.

Manager Whitey Anderson has now secured his much-coveted striker, and can now focus on building, and retaining, a squad around the former Stockport County and Leeds United ace.

Both Glenavon and Coleraine pitched two-year deals to Elding, who accepted the Mallards’ offer of a one-year deal last week.

The Englishman was a free agent after leaving Cork City, an inherent trait which he believes shows his integrity and ambition as a player.

He said: “I have always been bought and sold. I was never transfer listed or released with any of my clubs.

“Someone could look at my Wikipedia page or whatever and say ‘that guy’s had a lot of clubs’ but it’s always been my decision to move on. I’ve amassed over £1million in transfer fees.

“I never wanted to just sit around and play. When Dennis Wise signed me for Leeds, I was only there for three days before he moved to take over at Newcastle United.

“Then Gary McAllister took over, and I wasn’t being played. It was me who made the choice to move, rather than sit there in contract and bide my time.

“It hasn’t been a case of being a journeyman and I hate that word. I don’t agree with it. I am where I am at now because I have had a good career, not a difficult one. I am looking forward to this new chapter in my career.”

Yet now, it is a case of slowly winding down, rather than unravelling through inactivity. Elding made a splash in the League of Ireland, scoring the late winner in the FAI Cup Final for Sligo, although stuttered at Cork.

“Again, I didn’t just want to sit there on the bench and cash in my wages. I am happy to move to semi-pro football now, and I am over the moon to have things sorted.

“I could have sat around until the end of July but I met Whitey, saw the facilities which are as good as they were in England, and reminded me of Crewe, a bit. You can see people are very passionate about the game, too.

“I spoke to [Glenavon manager] Gary Hamilton and mentioned Ballinamallard. He said facilities-wise, I couldn’t really do any better.

“I want to think about life after playing, too. I want to do other things in my life and don’t want to wait until I am 35 to make these decisions. I would like to stay involved in football, and definitely don’t want to be stuck behind a desk.

“I expect good things and I expect to have to work for them – it isn’t a jolly-up just because it’s part-time.

“Glenavon offered me a two-year deal and to just travel for match days,but no way I could just show up for games.”