Amos Murphy is a writer and lover of sport – mainly football
Amos Murphy is a writer and lover of sport – mainly football
Amar Purewal is well known by now (especially to defences...) around the North East non-league scene. The striker played a notable part in Darlington's initial climb back up the divisions less than a decade ago, and after joining Hebburn Town earlier this summer, the 30-year-old wants that promotion feeling again.
He links up with Kevin Bolam's side after a productive 2019/20 in front of goal for West Auckland Town, keen to test himself all over again and help fire the Hornets firmly in the direction of the Northern Premier League.
You were announced as a new signing for Hebburn back in June. Tell me about that one coming to fruition, the conversations with the manager, and perhaps any other options at the time.
He got in touch during lockdown and said he was interested but he needed to find out his budget, so I was just waiting around really. I think West Auckland expected me just to stay, but when a team like Hebburn come in, with the set-up and that, you wanna try and progress yourself a little bit. So it was a no-brainer really when he offered me a deal.
Obviously cut short for everyone, but how do you look back on last season with West Auckland? Plus points and any frustrations as well.
Goalscoring-wise, I think I got 19, so I enjoyed that part, but finishing 9th wasn’t great really. I needed a change; I think sometimes when you’re at a club too long you get taken for granted a bit. I think it was just expected that we were gonna stay on but they should be showing that they wanna keep you. The manager at Hebburn showed that he wanted me there more than West Auckland did.
How did lockdown affect/alter your routine, in terms of work, but also keeping in the right condition as a player?
I probably did more exercise than I normally would, because with lockdown, I was out all the time running, but it doesn’t replicate a game and what that gives you. It was difficult in that way but it was enjoyable as well spending time at home. I run a sports coaching business, going into schools and stuff like that, so obviously the schools were off. You couldn’t do any one-on-one coaching either, so yeah, it was really affected.
Besides that fitness aspect and family time, what else helped get you through? Any series you got into in particular, or quizzes etc.?
We were watching Ozark; that was decent over lockdown. It was more just spending time with my child really; she’s gonna be two at the end of this month. Just spending time with her and the family, that was what got us through really. Going for walks...quite boring, to be fair!
You and your brother (fellow footballer Arjun) are Coventry fans. Being from the North East, how did that start?
When my family and my parents moved over from India, they moved to Coventry. I think it was around the time when they got to the ’87 FA Cup final. I was born in ’89 so my dad when he was alive went to the cup final. When I was born, I lived in Sunderland, but I’ve always been a Coventry fan. I’ve been to Wembley the last few seasons when they’ve been there and I was over the moon when they got promoted just recently. I’ve always supported them, I’m a massive fan. They were on Premier Sports on Saturday, playing Swindon in a friendly, so I was actually watching the game back just then.
You spent time in the youth team with Newcastle United. Being born in '89, are we talking the same team as Andy Carroll? Who else was in your age group?
Kazenga LuaLua was in at the same time. It was a good experience, Newcastle, I enjoyed it. I was just gutted that I left but everyone’s got their own story and I’m happy with what I did, to be fair, moving into non-league and playing at a young age. It makes you learn the hard way.
LIVE ACTION: @P70AMA completes the turnaround and the Quakers go into the break 2-1 up! pic.twitter.com/YILoWqUQP4
— Darlington FC (@Official_Darlo) December 13, 2014
After you got released, was there a period of wondering what’s next, or were you straight into playing local football?
I did go back into local, but it’s difficult because you drop out and then you’re going on trials here, there and everywhere, and you’re moving away at like 16, so you don’t really wanna do that. I just went into local football, joined Ryhope Colliery Welfare Under-18s. I played there for a few seasons and then Brian Honour, who was at Peterlee College where I was, took the Bishop Auckland job and I went there. I went to (Newcastle) Benfield for a bit, so I was around a few clubs in the Northern League at about 17 years old.
You mentioned your parents originally coming over from India, you’ve obviously represented the Panjab team as well. Is faith a significant part of your life too, and if so, does it impact on your routine as a player in any way?
I’m a Sikh. I wouldn’t say I’m massively into religion but I do go to the temple when I can and pray, but it’s not a huge thing.
Having had a few different managers, is there a type of approach that you'd say works best with you personally? Which manager(s) has seemed to understand you best in that sense?
I think just boosting confidence and an arm around the shoulder really. I don’t really respond to someone shouting at you all the time. You turn up at football to enjoy it. At the end of the day, we’ve all got jobs, so to then be getting shouted at with football, it’s not one of them things that motivates us. I think a manager with his arm around your shoulder who understands you really, that’s what will motivate me a bit better. Martin Gray was the best I’ve played for by an absolute stretch, but he did it in a different way. His thing was just standards; ‘you’ve got to do it like this and if you don’t buy into it then you’re off.’ If you weren’t at it, he would tell you, he was straight up and down. He was the best I played for by a mile; organisation, confidence when you were flying and you felt on top of the world, everything.
Darlington's an obvious standout, so maybe it's an easy one, but for the most complete time you’ve felt in football so far - good dressing room, how you felt on the pitch etc. - which spell would that be?
It would be Darlington the season I got injured, the third season at Darlington. Before I did my knee, I felt so good when I was playing, confidence-wise. Then when I came back from injury, I went to the (ConIFA) World Cup with Panjab and I finished top goalscorer in that World Cup. I felt like a different player; I look at it sometimes and think ‘was that even me?’
Super striker Amar Purewal @P70AMA is on 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/vMvaRxiwQQ
— Panjab FA (@PanjabFA) June 2, 2016
Is there a favourite game/memory that sticks with you from Darlo?
The first promotion obviously was huge. When we got relegated to the Northern League and then went up to the Evo-Stik North Division, that was surreal, the celebrations. The way the club did it, they didn’t just have it where it was picking the trophy up, I think they shouted everyone’s name out on the Tannoy when you walked up the steps to the top of the Bishop Auckland stand. That was really, really good. I’d say those celebrations were the best, definitely.
On the flipside, what stands out as the toughest time for you with football so far? The cruciate injury?
Yeah, that by a mile. That was the hardest thing I ever did in football, because I was flying as well at the time at Darlington. It was coming off the back of when I felt really good as a player. I had loads of setbacks, loads of complications, I think I had three procedures, so that was the most difficult time.
Have there been any players in particular you’ve really felt that understanding with on the pitch, where you'll know where they'll be at certain moments, and vice versa?
Yeah, my good mate Dowse, David Dowson, he’s one I connected with on a football pitch, definitely. I think Stephen Thompson as well, who’s just gone to Spennymoor. I think when I played up front with them at Darlington, it coincided with the best time I’ve had in football.
What about some examples of the standout characters you've been around?
I would say Dowse again, he’s a good lad. Thommo is another one. Phil Turnbull, Gary Brown, Terry Galbraith, them type of lads who I was at Darlington with. Ian Watson as well, great lad.
Away from playing, work as well, what kind of other interests do you have? Whether it's just a basic thing to switch you off or more of a wider ambition for the future?
Obviously my coaching business, I’m into that; I like doing one-on-ones. I like going to the gym; I feel better when it’s done. Spending time with my child. I like looking into properties as well; I’ve got one property at the minute and that’s probably something that I want to get into when I’m a bit older.
Finally, what's your overall outlook ahead of next season and getting properly back into it, as we speak now?
It’s a bit apprehensive, joining a new team, so I just wanna get into the team and score as many goals as I can. Play every week, that’s the most important thing, and win trophies. That’s the reason why I’ve left West Auckland. I was comfortable there and I could have stayed there, picking up your money, but you need a bit of ambition in your life, you wanna win stuff. So that’s what I’m planning to do; win stuff and score as many goals as I can.
Interview by @chris_brookes