The free-scoring former Rotherham United and Barnsley FC defender firing Hallam FC to promotion

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Plenty of defenders fancy themselves as strikers, but few are allowed to trespass beyond the halfway line.

A change of position for Hallam’s Liam Royles, however, has proved to be a stroke of genius.

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The 28-year-old former Rotherham United trainee, who began the season at left-back, has netted 34 times since being moved up the pitch to cover an injury.

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Hallam FC's Liam Royles. Photo: Matt Hopkinson.Hallam FC's Liam Royles. Photo: Matt Hopkinson.
Hallam FC's Liam Royles. Photo: Matt Hopkinson.

He is currently on a seven-match scoring streak, with 13 goals in that time, which has helped the Countrymen to the brink of promotion from the Northern Counties East Football League Division One.

Bramley-based Liam said: “When I was at Rotherham I was a right-back. Even at Stocksbridge I played full-back, but I have always seen myself as better going forward.

"Throughout my non-league career I have moved between the two positions, for Worksop I played both.

"I definitely want to keep playing further forward, I don’t see myself as a full-back.”

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Spells with Barnsley and the Millers as a youngster saw Liam play alongside the likes of England international John Stones and Luton Town midfielder Jordan Clark.

Now, he plays football alongside working at Holgate Meadows Community School on the Parson Cross estate.

Liam added: "It was unlucky at Rotherham really because they sacked the manager two weeks before I was due (for contract talks). Steve Evans came in and went in his own direction.

"When I first got my contract it was Ronnie Moore. It was going really well, then he lost his job. Andy Scott came in with Darren Sarll and we had to impress again.

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"I think he (Evans) saw one reserve game. I think he even passed me on the day of my review and said ‘all the best for this weekend’. I don’t even think he knew.”

An unsuccessful trial with Brighton followed before spells in non-league and some time out of the game with glandular fever.

Despite signing for Hallam in 2019, 2021/22 will be Liam’s first full season at Sandygate owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Having played higher up the pyramid, how does he think the Countrymen will fare in the division above?

"With the squad we have got and adding two or three more I think we can challenge next season.

"I don’t see any reason why we can’t be at least in the top six.”