Anthony Bingham, a very late convert to National League One rugby, has had his first taste of action at that level at the age of 30 ...and he would like more.
ersistent hamstring injuries put his debut on hold but he was part of the Fylde side that thumped Cinderford 45-7, and Bingham nearly scored with his first and second touches of the match.
But he could feel well pleased with his belated debut as he made some good runs, as well as making a significant contribution in defence.
It represents a big step-up for fleet-footed winger Bingham, who joined Fylde in the summer from junior club Rossendale.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Henley Hawks, Bingham said: “I had been waiting for that for 10 weeks, so the monkey is off the back now and I can concentrate on cementing my position on the team.
“I really enjoyed it against Cinderford, even though the weather was not great. I got loads of ball.
“I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t finish the game because by the time I went off, the spaces were starting to open up.”
Bingham, who rejoices in the nickname Bingo, nearly got off to a real flyer with an early burst down the right wing, which saw him come close to the Fylde line.
Though he missed out on scoring a try then, and again a moments later, Bingham said: “I should have backed myself, but one of those attacks did result in a try and I was happy with my general performance.
“Going forward I want to improve my finishing and get the tries.”
Bingham had been pencilled in for a debut twice before but hamstring trouble put paid to that.
Bingham said: “I have had a few problems with my hamstrings, which can be a bit of a nightmare. When you suffer them, it is a progressive kind of recovery.
“It is something that is in your head, even though you are back fully fit - when you go to sprint, you feel you are not fully comfortable.
“But playing my first match has given me a lot of confidence going into the next game.”
Bingham is determined to make the most of the opportunities following that initial breakthrough.
He is certainly an all-rounder, having played soccer, both rugby codes and even gridiron.
For a living, Bingham is a personal fitness trainer and runs his own company selling a lifestyle apparel bag.
He said: “I have never played rugby at such a high level before and at 30 I wanted to give it a go before I retired. I want to prove myself at National League One level.
“I feel I can do well at that level and I am excited to get the chance.
“It would have been easier for me if I had stayed at Rossendale because it is closer (to home) and I would have been guaranteed a place, but I wanted to challenge myself.
“I have only played one game but I have learned a lot since I have been here, training with Oli (Brennand), Jordan (Dorrington) and Warren (Spragg).
“It has been worthwhile coming to Fylde for that alone. There is always a feelgood factor, even after training.
“There are 20 games left and I want to be challenging for a position.”
On his arrival at Fylde, Bingham quickly realised there were aspects of his game that needed work, such as his defence, which he has attempted to address. Bingham said: “When I played American football, I was an offensive player and so I was quite confident with the running part of the game.
“I wanted to work on my weaknesses, and I am constantly talking to (player-coach) Paul Arnold and Warren about what I should be doing because I haven’t got the experience. It’s great to learn from people like them.
“I am older but I am a youngster in terms of the game. I loved it at Rossendale but it got a bit stale because technically it’s not as good as National One.
“I could kind of get by on raw ability at that level, whereas here the technical side comes in . You can’t just be an athlete.
“I am self-employed, so I can manage my own schedule.
“It is challenging with the travel sometimes but I don’t mind it at all.”
Bingham got his chance after scoring 13 tries in three matches for the Fylde Hawks’ second team, admittedly against a standard far lower than National League One.
He added: “I I enjoyed scoring tries for the second team, but it wasn’t a challenge and not what I came here to do.
“But I was glad that scoring those tries got me recognised and Paul Arnold stuck to his word that he would play me in the first team.
“Now my job is to stay in the team for the rest of the 20 games.”