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MEMORIES S WORTH A LARM & A LEG; On Tuesday On Tuesday theMOTd interview MARTIN MAWH HINNEY talks to DAVY LARMOUR: Liverpool old boy Davy still l not walking alone.

Byline: MARTIN MAWH HINNEY

FOOTBALL is full of hard luck stories, with no end of players happy to share their regretful tales of 'what might have been' - but Larne's Davy Larmour is adamant that he will never fall into that category.

The 32-year-old centre forward has been on the cusp of the very pinnacle of English football, having trained and developed in a Liverpool set-up with such illustrious company as Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen, only to miss out on a regular place in the first team of the club he supported as a boy.

But rather than bemoan the cards that fate dealt him, Larmour reflects that he has had the type of existence that most sports-mad schoolboys can only dream of, and is still grateful for every moment he is able to go out and play of the game he loves so dearly.

He told Match on Tuesday: "The way I look at it, I have played for two clubs who I support, and I have won medals with both. There are boys who have played football all their days, and have never won a thing.

"I know guys who pay to play their football, but I have been paid all the way through.

"When you think about it like that, you have to say to yourself that you are one of the lucky ones."

Larmour's talent was immediately evident in his primary school years, when he was playing as a nine-year-old with the older lads in Dungoyne Boys' Under-11 team. Then, after five years there, he linked up for a season with Bangor Reserves at a time when their first team had just won the Irish Cup under Nigel Best.

But things really began to take off for him as he ended a series of trials at Crystal Palace, Rangers and Liverpool, with a decision to join up with the Anfield giants.

Breaking into the reserve team at the age of 17, Larmour made his mark early on, with a goal at the Kop end on his debut - and even a goal in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final against a top-class West Ham side, which included the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard.

But even such a valuable strike was unable to land him the full recognition he coveted at his boyhood club.

He admitted: "I came on and scored a late winner and I thought I had done enough for the return leg... but unfortunately not. I ended up being the 16th man.

"I had done so well, and had finished top scorer in a youth tournament, but it wasn't enough. I can't complain though - I've got a winners' medal from that Youth Cup final and it's probably my favourite out of my collection.

"But I was competing against Michael Owen for a place, and you had other players like Jamie Carragher and David Thompson starting to break through as well.

"You see those boys and think 'that could have been me' but then you think 'maybe they were doing something different to me, something better than me'.

"People say you have only one chance and to take it, but I have no regrets. That's just the way it works out sometimes."

Larmour draws parallels between his own story and that of Peter Thompson, who recently returned on loan for Linfield after things didn't go according to plan for him at Stockport County.

"You look at Thompson," he said, "but then you look at the likes of Andy Kirk and Stuart Elliott, who have done well. A lot of it can be down to the circumstances at the time. Thompson has just been unlucky.

"I always knew I wasn't the only one in that position, but it did affect me.

"When I was told I was going to be let go, about six weeks from the end of the season, Sam Allardyce - who was managing Blackpool at the time - was showing an interest in me at the time, and I remember my landlord telling me I should go for it.

"But I just thought 'I might be playing in the Youth Cup final on Sky TV and if I do well, imagine how many people will see it, and where that might lead for me'."

Instead, however, he ended up joining Doncaster Rovers on a two-year deal, and when they went into administration after the first year, the pull of coming back to his native Northern Ireland, and opportunity to play for another team he had always supported - Linfield - was just too great to resist.

"A friend of mine, Rab Campbell, was playing for the Blues at the time," Larmour explained.

"David Jeffrey said to bring me up, and I was given a six-week contract - and I must have shown them enough, because after my second week, it was extended to three years!" For both Larmour and the Blues, it was a match made in heaven, as not only was his contract given another three-year extension after the first ran out, but he managed to net over 100 goals in his first four seasons at the club.

Things were going well at Windsor Park, but there was a nasty surprise in store. At the age of just 24, he suffered a cruciate knee injury in a match against Crusaders that left him out of action for a number of months When he returned, his contracts began to be renewed over one-year periods instead of three, and with Peter Thompson, Chris Morgan and Glenn Ferguson all jostling to fill the front positions, Larmour was acutely aware how tough it was becoming to nail down a first team place.

He said: "It was obvious that Davy had other plans - and when your time is up, it's up.

"I won every medal I could with Linfield - I was part of the team that won the clean sweep - but I knew I had to move on. I think Ferguson and Th like 100 goals in m Next stop for Larm where he had sust his right knee, a wrecked his left kn Just as had been unable to repeat hi return from the tre words from expe Smyth and Darre reassured that his to be prematurely He enlisted the h took Stephen McB Glenavon for six m full fitness. ompson scored something my last season at the Blues." mour was Crusaders, the club tained that terrible injury to and where, ironically, he nee in his second season. n the case at Linfield, he was is top-scoring form upon his eatment table. But with wise erienced team-mates Gary en Lockhart, Larmour was playing career wasn't going ended at 29.

help of a personal trainer and Bride up on his offer to join months, in a bid to return to as, McBride had signed James ck Rangers, and Larmour had osite direction, to the second ague - a level where he was playing .

By that Christma Costello from Carric moved in the oppo tier of the Irish Lea not accustomed to He confessed: "W my head. I was say in the Premiersh telling me to drop "It was to prove t it."

Wee things were going through ying that I could still do a job hip, although people were down.

to people that I could still do Clearly he mana boss Paul Millar, w man at the start having admittedly m him during his several other clubs And now, La arguably as dead with 19 goals to season, having clai of 25 games by Ch His life has ch the years, and now a father of two-year-New Year arriv Larmour is blessed sense of perspect life, while maintain his ambitious natur aged to do just that to Larne who finally got his of this season, missed out on s time at s. rmour is ly as ever, o date this imed 18 out hristmas. hanged over married and -old Ellie and val Harry, d with a ive on ning re.

He revealed: "You do say to yourself, 'how many years have I got?' but when you look at people like Gary Smyth, Darren Lockhart and Glenn Ferguson, it gives you some hope.

"When you are up there, doing well, it is easier to stay motivated, but it can be a difficult thing when you aren't doing so well.

"If things work out well with Larne, you never know, we could go on a bit of a run and get ourselves up to the Premiership again.

"But personally, I am just taking it as one game at a time."

Given his unpredictable journey up to this point, it is hardly surprising that Larmour has adopted an attitude that some would describe as cautious, and others as simply realistic.

But, as his career enters what are commonly regarded as the 'twilight years', there are few that would deny him the Premiership platform that his undeniable talent still clearly deserves.

CAPTION(S):

A STRIKING CAREER One of the most clinical forwards in the local game, Larmour did the business for Linfield when it mattered, including against Cliftonville in 1998 (1) and Glentoran in December 2002 (2). His exploits won him a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad to face Yugoslavia in 2000 (3). And, with Crusaders, he continued to perform well (4). TOUGH OPPONENTDavy Larmour missed out to a young Michael Owen for a starting role in the second leg of the Youth Cup final but he was courted by Sam Allardyce (below) GOING STRONG Larmour takes control of possession during Saturday's WKD Intermediate Cup tie between Larne and Carrick Rangers at Inver Park
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 2, 2010
Words:1603
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