‘Bloody hell, he’s played in the Premier League’ - ex non-league striker Dennis on step up to League One

Oxford United vs Chesterfield - Danny Wilson giving final words to incoming subsitute Kristian Dennis - Pic By James Williamson

Oxford United vs Chesterfield - Danny Wilson giving final words to incoming subsitute Kristian Dennis - Pic By James Williamson

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Kristian Dennis is not ashamed to admit he was a little starstruck on his first day of training with Chesterfield.

The former postman and office administrator signed for the League One Spireites from National League North side Stockport in the summer.

And it was a big step up, training daily instead of twice a week and working alongside players who had Premier League experience compared with his Northern Premier League experience.

Dennis, 26, recalls his reaction to his first day as a Spireite.

He said: “Looking at everyone the first few days I was like ‘bloody hell, he’s played in the Premier League, he’s this and that.’

“I was in every day, recovery sessions which I never used to do – I used to train Tuesdays and Thursday nights – now I’m in full-time, it’s totally different to what I’m used to.

“Training in the morning, lunch and then maybe training again in the afternoon, completely different.

“It took me a couple of weeks to get used to it but I was fine after that.”

Dennis has taken the long way round to arrive in professional football, and at times only his love of the game kept him going when the ‘dream’ looked impossible.

“I got released by Macclesfield at 20 and I’ve been playing non-league, down as far as the Evo-Stik North Division One, but I just kept going and going and I’m here now.

“I was saying the other day that on those Tuesday nights driving to Goole away, I was thinking what’s the point? But luckily it came up trumps.

“It was just football, I love football. If I wasn’t playing professionally I’d be playing five-a-side every night with my mates. No matter what I’d be playing football.”

Dennis, who scored on his full league debut last weekend, wasted no time in handing in his notice at his office job when Danny Wilson came calling this summer.

And he’ll be forever grateful to the Town boss, who personally scouted him last season during a loan spell with Macclesfield.

“The gaffer has taken a chance on me, I’ve got to repay him for the trust he’s put in me, signing me.

“There’s loads of people I played against last season who are still there in non-league but it’s just getting someone to take a chance on you, luckily the gaffer here did.”

Not only has Wilson given Dennis a chance at a League One club, he’s been playing a big part in shaping the striker’s game and encouring him to learn from those around him.

“Ched Evans has a prolific record in this league, he’s got movement, pace, he’s got nearly everything,” said Dennis.

“The gaffer always says to me, ‘look at what Ched does’ and I have been doing and hopefully that’s helping me.

“Before I came I knew the calibre of players that were here so I knew it would be tough to get in, but hopefully now I’ve taken my chance and shown the gaffer what I can do.”

The surroundings, team-mates and calibre of opposition might have all changed for Dennis since his big move, but as a forward, some things will never change.

He admits he’s had a shoot-on-sight policy since first kicking a ball.

“If you’re any striker you’ve got to be confident in your own ability. If you get a chance in front of goal, you’ve got to know you’ll take it,” he said.

“I’ve been like that since I was a little kid, as soon as I’d get the ball I’d shoot and hopefully it goes in.”

And like all good strikers, he’ll fight tooth and nail to claim a goal – although he insists he hasn’t been in touch with the game’s authorities over last Saturday’s dispute.

Addressing the goal that many originallygave to Dion Donohue, before replays showed Dennis’ final touch, he admitted the bickering with the left-back was still rumbling on.

“It was mine,” he said.

“Dion was on me all the time, ‘Denno everywhere it says it’s me, it’s my goal on Sky’ but it wasn’t.

“Everyone was saying it wasn’t mine, they’ve all been saying I’ve contacted the Football League myself to try and get it as mine - I haven’t.”

Now that he’s got himself into the team and put the ball in the net, Dennis wants the chance to do it every week.

And he’s hoping for a repeat performance for both himself and the team when they travel to Gigg Lane on Saturday.

“First aim is to be a consistent name on the team sheet.

“Hopefully I can get another start and another goal.

“We’ll go there in the same mindset as last week against Northampton, get the ball down and play, create chances and hopefully score goals.”

COLUMN: Derbyshire Times Spireites writer Graham Smyth on the refreshing enthusiasm Kristian Dennis brings in his first season as a professional.

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