They say good things come in small packages and that’s certainly true of Carshalton Athletic’s homegrown goal machine.
Tommy Bradford stepped up from the youth team at Colston Avenue to make his first-team debut aged just 17 and, fast forward five seasons later, the 5′ 7″ forward is enjoying his most bountiful campaign, including three hat-tricks, in front of goal yet.
His goal during the recent 3-2 defeat at South Park was his 30th of the season but, while that leaves him top of the Ryman South goalscoring charts, the loss dented Carshalton’s play-off aspirations as others around them take advantage of games in hand.
“Everyone, including me, was massively disappointed after the South Park game as we felt we were the better team overall,” said Bradford.
“So I didn’t even register my thirtieth until later that evening when people started sending me congratulations.
“But now it’s sunk in I do feel proud of course. Most people would expect a traditional ‘number nine’ to reach that figure but this feels even better as I’ve mostly played just off our strikers or out wide this season.”
The 22 year-old made that aforementioned debut in 2013, when Carshalton were involved in a Ryman Premier relegation fight, and the first of his 78 goals in Robins red to date came as part of a treble against Hampton and Richmond Borough.
“We were actually on a good run of form, which eventually saw us stay up, but there wasn’t pressure on me to come in and just start scoring however,” he added.
“I cannot compare the feeling I experienced when that first goal went in to anything else, then we got a penalty in the second-half and (former team-mate) Nathaniel Pinney knew I was on a hat-trick and so let me take it.”
“I’ve enjoyed playing with many different forwards during my time but Pinney was great to play off, Michael Campbell has great pace and was good to look for, and Dan Summers was a good communicator and great goalscorer.”
Carshalton and Bradford next face play-off rivals Greenwich Borough at home and the forward wants his team to get back to the kind of form that saw the Robins go eight games unbeaten before defeats to Hastings United and South Park last week.
“We beat Greenwich at theirs earlier in the season and a repeat of that would be great, but we will all have to work hard and get back to our recent good form,” said Bradford.
“And I’m fully focused on adding to my total and helping us to hopefully a positive end to this season.”
Carshalton Athletic vs Greenwich Borough takes place on Saturday 4th March (kick-off 3pm).