Feature

Arter: Non-league coach restored love of the game

10 Oct 2018

Cardiff City midfielder credits assistant manager at former club Woking for giving him belief he could reach the top

Ahead of Non-League Day on 13 October we spoke to Premier League footballers who played in the non-league game before their rise through the football pyramid.

Harry Arter (CAR)

Harry Arter’s dreams of becoming a Premier League player were fading when he was released by Charlton Athletic in 2009, aged 19.

But a season in non-league football rejuvenated the midfielder and launched him back towards the top flight, where he has made 76 appearances for AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff City.

One man played a pivotal role.

Jimmy Dack had been the assistant manager at Welling United when Arter had a loan spell there from Charlton.

When Dack took up the same role at Woking, he brought Arter to the club for 2009/10 in the division now called the National League South, or the sixth tier of English football.

'I started to doubt myself'

"I wouldn’t say I was ready to give up because I love football that much," says Arter. "But with the professional side of the game, I started to doubt myself.

"I doubted that I had a chance of getting back to the level that I definitely thought I would have been at when I was 15 or 16.

"Jimmy just gave me that love of the game again. He worked hard with me on the training pitch after training. He gave me that belief.

"I still speak to him regularly now. He’s someone who, at grassroots level, was key for me being where I am today."

'Very complimentary'

Arter has particularly fond memories of a hat-trick when Woking beat Hendon 5-0 in an FA Cup tie in October 2009, eight months before he joined AFC Bournemouth.

"I remember coming off the pitch thinking, 'Maybe I can go back up to a higher level,' " he says. "Their manager came up to me and was very complimentary.

"I remember we had a penalty and there were two of us lads on two goals. It was 4-0 at the time and I wanted it. Giuseppe Sole it was, he's a good friend still.

"He was saying, 'I'm taking it,' and in my head I was thinking, 'I hope you miss, because I want a chance of getting a hat-trick.'

"He missed and I ended up scoring a hat-trick, so I was happy with that."

Also in this series

Part 1: Foster: Traffic jam gave me my big break in non-league
Part 2: Barnes: Non-league was central to my development
Part 4: Cook: Non-league game did me the world of good
Part 5: Bettinelli: I'll always have fond memories of Dartford

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