It’s been a steep learning curve but for Gloucester City winger Mike Tambling his first season in the Blue Square North has been more than he ever expected.
As the 22-year-old prepares for Saturday’s FA Trophy clash with Boston United he said he still can’t quite believe he is playing for the team he used to watch as a boy.
“I went to watch Gloucester at Meadow Park a few times with my dad, he wanted me to watch proper local football,” said Tambling. “I’ve got a really vivid memory of being there and 80 minutes had been played and it was 0-0, my dad asked if I wanted to go and I said no. He went off to get some food and when he came back three goals had been scored and Gloucester won 2-1.
“I can remember thinking Meadow Park was massive when I was younger and then I ended up playing there when I played for Gloucester Schools.”
After an introduction to City boss Dave Mehew courtesy of his former Hartpury tutor Marc Richards, Tambling impressed in pre-season and scored on his full Tigers debut in the 5-0 demolition of Redditch at Whaddon Road.
But the youngster, who spent ten years with Churchdown Panthers as a junior player, admitted the step up from university football team to the second tier of non-league took a bit of getting used to.
He said: “I never expected to go to Gloucester, I didn’t really expect to play any higher than the Southern Prem then work my way up from there but I got my foot in the door and must have impressed them.
“Since pre-season I have learnt more about football than I have in the previous 15 years of playing the game. The first time I came on for City, away at Workington and I had never played at that level before. Within about 45 seconds I realised how much quicker the game is at this level.”
After spending time in the Junior Academy at Hartpury and playing for Bishop’s Cleeve u18s at the same time Tambling left Gloucestershire to study at Loughborough University. Apart from a brief spell with Chasetown he played little senior football, although he was part of the university’s all conquering football and futsal squads.
Settling into the close-knit Gloucester squad has been a breeze for local-lad Tambling.
“Training with such a variety of players has been fantastic,” he said. “There are people like Tom Webb who has such great fitness levels, I’d like to see myself develop a bit like him, I can learn a lot from him. Then there are the technical players like Darren Mullings, Tom Parrinello and Mike Green and the experience of the players like Neil Mustoe. I’m all ears in training; I just sit back and listen to them.”
But then some would say football is in his genes, his great-uncle is Bobby Tambling – a Chelsea legend.
He said: “My great uncle Bobby has four or five record for Chelsea. Highest ever goal scorer – I think Lampard is still 40 goals off that, most goals scored in one season and most goals scored direct from a corner kick. He used to have most goals scored in one game too.
“Bobby played on the left, I tend to play wherever I can on the wing. I was a striker when I went to Hartpury but Tim Jenkins and Tom Radcliffe turned me into a striker.”
And its not just Uncle Bobby who has helped inspire Tambling’s game.
“My dad has been a massive influence on my game, when I was younger I learnt so much from him, there is definitely a football brain in our family,” he said. He comes to every game, he used to play football with Callum (Preece)’s dad when he was younger.
“My family have been so supportive, when I was younger my grandparents wanted to know about every junior match I played in. They both died about ten years ago but me and my dad joked that if my gran had still been here when I signed for Gloucester she would have bought a season ticket on the spot, they would have been so proud and would be the first one having a go at the manager if I didn’t get to play. “