Christian Doidge was once a community policeman in South Wales, but now he’s looking forward to pounding a new beat at Easter Road as one of seven new signings by Hibernian head coach Paul Heckingbottom.
The striker swapped a football strip for a police uniform at a time when he’d fallen out of love with the game after being released as a teenager by Bristol Rovers.
But, he insisted, having had to earn a living at a variety of jobs makes him all the more appreciative of life as a football player. “It hurt a bit,” he conceded of that early rejection. “I was too small and probably not good enough, to be honest. They released me, no hard feelings. I wasn’t really enjoying it any more.
“Sometimes when you are in the set-up but not playing well you are probably just waiting for them to release you and that’s what happened.
“It took me to go away from the game, grow up a bit and get a man’s body to realise how much I missed it. I got the bug back when I started playing with friends again. They will be annoyed if I call it pub football. It was a small club called Croesyceiliog now in the Welsh Division Two.
“It was a club close to my heart because practically all of them were my friends and they’ll be coming up here quite often.”
Doidge took on a number of jobs at that time but also took up basketball, finding himself good enough to represent Wales in the European Championships and still plays for fun with his mates. He said: “I was half-decent, in and around the Welsh set-up, but I wasn’t at the elite level. I think if I’d really knuckled down I could have played at a low level in Europe – but I would never have earned a lot of money.
“I still play. I have friends who play so every summer we play five against five for an hour. It’s really good for fitness. I’m still competitive, they get annoyed because they are not as fit as me. They are better than me, but I just run around a lot more than them.” During his hiatus from football, Doidge planned to go university but “dropped out” at the last minute to concentrate on getting a job, working as a builder and a community police officer being just two of them.
He said: “I was a community support officer for about six months and really enjoyed it. It was an unbelievable job just being in the community and probably something I would have done career-wise for the rest of my life, walking about the streets speaking to people and making them feel at ease. I feel I am quite good at that.
“Now I speak to my friends daily and they’re telling me the hours they’re doing and it makes you realise how much you want it and how hard you’ve got to work to maintain it.”
Now 26, Doidge made his way in the game via Carmarthen Town, Dagenham and Redbridge to Forest Green Rovers, his record of a goal a game seemingly earning him a dream move to the Championship with Bolton Wanderers.
An initial loan deal was supposed to have become a permanent arrangement but fell through due to financially troubled Bolton being under a transfer embargo.
After that experience, it was vital his next move was the right one and is convinced joining Hibs will prove to be exactly that.
He said: “The manager was a major factor and obviously the club’s massive. The supporters, playing in front of thousands of people every week is great.
I think playing in the Scottish Premiership might give me a better chance of playing in the Welsh team. That’s the ultimate dream. I’m hard working, good in the air, I like to be a presence, a nightmare for defenders and my goal- scoring record is pretty good.”