BACK IN THE FOLD

The wan­derer re­turns

Bray People - - SPORT -

THE MID­FIELD mae­stro is back. Bray Wan­der­ers re­cently con­firmed the re-sign­ing of Gary Dempsey af­ter the Wex­ford man had spent a year away from the Carlisle Grounds at Water­ford United. But now he's back.

Dem­pey's re­turn to the Sea­side should come as no great sur­prise to fol­low­ers of Pat Devlin's army. For one rea­son, Dempsey ad­mits that his stay at the RSC was al­ways go­ing to be a short-lived one, and for the sec­ond rea­son, Dempsey goes through foot­ball clubs like Judge Judy goes through court cases.

As a teenager, his daz­zling dis­plays at the heart of North End United, Cherry Or­chard and Repub­lic of Ire­land un­der­age sides were catch­ing the eye over the water. Dempsey weighed up all his ad­mir­ers and in the end de­cided that Good­i­son Park was the place for him.

A 16-year-old Dempsey put pen to pa­per on a four-year deal to sign for Ever­ton. He was then of­fered a con­tract ex­ten­sion as his deal neared to an end but he made the brace de­ci­sion to leave the Mersey­side giants.

'I sort of knew that I was go­ing to have to move on from Ever­ton. The only de­ci­sion that I had to make really was whether I was go­ing to try stay in Eng­land or go back home and play. I knew it was al­ways go­ing to be a step back to take two for­ward so I de­cided to come back; I came back to Bray and I didn't get as much game time as I wanted so I moved onto Water­ford on loan and that was really the mak­ings of me. I did really, really well in the First Di­vi­sion, I got an U-21 call up and it just went from there really. I wasn't too dis­ap­pointed, I knew I still had the abil­ity to go on and have a good ca­reer in the game.'

Abil­ity he cer­tainly had, in abun­dance in fact. And his self-con­fi­dence proved not to be mis­placed when, at the age of 21, Dun­fermline Ath­letic came call­ing. A de­but goal against Celtic at a packed Park­head was the de­but dreams are made of. Dempsey then fol­lowed man­ager Jimmy Calder­wood to Aberdeen. But, af­ter a few sea­sons at Pit­to­drie, Dempsey had his quota of SPL and de­cided to em­bark on his English dream by sign­ing for Yeovil Town.

'It was al­ways my in­ten­tion to go and try and play in Eng­land and that was the rea­son that I left Aberdeen. I was of­fered a good con­tract at Aberdeen - a two-year ex­ten­sion - I didn't take it. I felt that af­ter six years in the SPL, I just fan­cied a wee crack at Eng­land. Yeovil Town came along and I was quite ex­cited about it and really look­ing for­ward to it but then I broke my foot at pre-sea­son and it didn't go to plan from there on really.'

Such a set­back could break lesser men, but did Dempsey ever tire of foot­ball?

'No. My whole life has al­ways been about foot­ball. Even now, I don't know how many years I have of play­ing left and I'm al­ready look­ing be­yond that but I just don't know any­thing else. All my life has been foot­ball. I didn't really bother at school be­cause of the foot­ball, in hind­sight it wasn't a good idea but I never really got frus­trated with the game. Some­times you can get frus­trated. Some parts of last year (with Water­ford United) were hugely frus­trat­ing; the pitches you're play­ing on, the play­ers you're play­ing against and the crowds and stuff like that but you just have to get on with it really.'

From Yeovil, Dempsey was left in some­thing of a lingo as the trans­fer win­dow had just shut so he was forced to re-sign for Aberdeen on ama­teur terms; with the Scot­tish side paying all Dempsey's liv­ing ex­penses in re­turn for his foot­ball ser­vices. With his son Jack only re­cently born though, the lure of re­turn­ing home proved too tempt­ing and Dempsey landed in Rich­mond Park.

The no­madic mid­fielder wasn't set­tled just yet though. Former Repub­lic of Ire­land man­ager Steve Staunton sent out an SOS to Dempsey to try and save Dar­ling­ton from the League 2 drop-zone. This time wife Louise didn't ac­com­pany Gary on his lat­est ven­ture as just six months later he was back in Ire­land and back at the Carlisle Grounds for a sec­ond time in his ca­reer. A quick stint at the RSC later and once again he has re­turned to the Field of Dreams. But look­ing ahead to the fu­ture, Dempsey sees the glass as half full for both him and Bray Wan­der­ers.

'Look­ing at the names that are there, I don't think we need to wor­ry­ing about the bot­tom end of the ta­ble this year; I think we'll be fine. Whether or not we can maybe sneak into the top six or there­about, I don't know. Only time will tell but I think we'll be much bet­ter and much stronger than the lads were last year.

'In that po­si­tion in the 4-3-3 that a lot of sides now where they play the deep-ly­ing mid­fielder to kind of pro­tect the back four and try and get on the ball and start things off, it suits me. Get­ting box-to-box was never really my thing, pace was never a strength of mine. I think I've got a good foot­ball brain and I like to get right in the thick of things in matches and nine times out of ten you have a big im­pact on the match.'

Dempsey turned 32 ear­lier this month. His own anal­y­sis of his role in the team sug­gests he could go on for many more years. Sand­wiched in­be­tween run­ning the show ev­ery Fri­day night for the 2013 sea­son, Dempsey also has to run his Match­fit Soc­cer Academy which has en­joyed a snow­ball-like success since its for­ma­tion 18 months ago. He also has am­bi­tions to achieve his UEFA 'A' coach­ing badge, and maybe even mak­ing his way over to the USA to take his stud­ies to the next level when he does even­tu­ally hang up his boots.

There's still plenty of magic in those boots though. And the Seagulls fans can't wait to see it.

Gary Dempsey who has re­signed for Bray Wan­der­ers af­ter a stint at Water­ford United.

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