AFTER spending six years in the Football League, making 160 appearances, winning two promotions and reaching the Championship, dropping into non-league must be a humbling experience for 28-year-old still in his prime. Not a bit of it, however, says Dave Syers, the new Darlington attacking midfielder who has no qualms about playing for Quakers.

Now three divisions below where he was this time last year with Scunthorpe United in League One, Syers has swapping football for finance by combining becoming an accountant with turning out for Darlington.

He made his debut on Saturday, coming off the bench with an hour gone and the score 2-2 against Gainsborough Trinity. By full-time Quakers had won 5-2, Syers scoring the final goal.

He won a penalty too, and while it would be a stretch to say he was the difference - fellow substitute Nathan Cartman was involved in all three of the final goals and scored too –the debutant certainly made a fine first impression.

“We asked him to break through the lines and gamble a bit, two or three times he did that really well,” said manager Martin Gray.

“He won a penalty and scored a good goal, so I was glad to see him make a contribution. He helped make a difference, and that’s what he’s here to do.”

Syers lived up to the expectations of a player who until six months ago was playing the game for a living, since 2010 turning out for Bradford City, Doncaster Rovers, Scunthorpe United and lastly Rochdale, the clubs reading like a Darlington fixture list of yesteryear.

Now he is rubbing shoulders in a changing room populated by team-mates in jobs such as postman, heating engineer, school teacher and model.

He admits that he had hoped to extend his stay in the pro game, but is now training to become an accountant with Sochall Smith.

They have offices in Leeds and Middlesbrough, ideal for the player who lives near Wetherby, although getting time off for matches shouldn’t be an issue – his boss, Andrew Charles, is a Darlington supporter.

Having played for Ossett Albion, Farsley and Harrogate Town while studying at the University of Leeds for a degree in classical civilisation – focusing on the earliest Greek literature in the 8th century BC to the fall of the Roman Empire – Syers explained why dropping to Darlington’s level is no hardship.

“Because I never set my sights on being a pro, I never hung my hat on it, coming out of the game is not a massive wrench for me, every year I had was a bonus. When you think of it logically, my career outside the game is going to last a lot longer than being a footballer.

“Being 28, I’ve got a lot more to offer a non-league side, and a lot longer too. If I’d come out of the game at 32 or 33 it would be a lot more difficult convincing a club I still had something to offer.”

He added: “Between the ages of 14, 15 and 16 I was with Darlington, but I stayed at school and went to sixth form and then university and played for teams like Farsley and Harrogate Town.

“At the end of my degree I was offered a trial at Bradford. I had a job lined up in accountancy to start in the September, but I went to the trial and ended up getting a good six years out of my career.

“I’m happy with what I did. I played 160 league games and 30 goals and two promotions and played all the way from Evo-Stik Division One North up to the Championship.

“I never meant to be a pro, so I’m very happy with the way things worked out for me. It’s put me in a good financial position to be able to start work now, rather than in ten years’ time when I would’ve been coming out of the game.”

Promotion to the Championship came with Doncaster amid remarkable scenes at Brentford in April 2013. On the same day Darlington won the Northern League, Doncaster won the title 1-0 with an injury-time goal, seconds after title rivals Brentford hit the bar with a penalty.

“We didn’t have a clue what was going on, it was crazy, the fans were on the pitch, it was unbelievable.”

Quakers are his second club already this season having spent pre-season with Guiseley, in the division above Darlington, and played two games for them in August.

“Originally the plan was the take another year in the league and show people what I can do because I’ve not played much in the last couple of years,” he explained.

“I played a couple of games for Guiseley in August, but I was always going to cancel my contract so that I was a free agent while I worked out what was happening with the job and just in case a league club came in.

“I was offered the job and it’s definitely the way to go now for myself and my family.”

He has made only 15 appearances in two years having suffered a serious knee injury five minutes into the first game of the 2014-15 season playing for Scunthorpe at Swindon.

“It was a double tackle, one in front and one from behind and it was pretty much season over already,” he recalled. “It was Nathan Thompson, a centre-half, and Yaser Kasim, a centre-mid. You don’t forget.

“It was the first game of the season, everyone’s adrenalin is going. It happens.”

It was a cruel blow for a player who had barely missed a game since signing for Scunthorpe the previous October from Doncaster, scoring ten goals from midfield in 2013-14 including a hat-trick against Portsmouth.

He considers himself a goalscoring midfielder, and having already got off the mark for Darlington is hoping to find the net regularly for his new club.

He said: “It’s great to get off the mark early. It’s a part of my game I pride myself on and want to be successful with.

“Last time I was in this division I scored 19. I always want to take pressure off the strikers. You need players from all over the pitch scoring, like Terry Galbraith and Gary Brown on Saturday.

“I’ve always been a box-to-box midfielder, an attacking central midfielder, and when I’ve had good seasons I’ve been into double figures for goals.”

This weekend Worcester City visit the North-East when Darlington can expect another healthy attendance at Heritage Park where their average this campaign is 1,491.

Syers added: “It’s a big plus to be playing in front of good crowds, it was one of the massive pulls about the club.

“I’m coming out of the Football League because I want to start my other career, so then you’re looking at playing for a part-time team and it needed to be one I can get to from where I live and work. Within in that criteria, Darlington are a massive pull.”