Southport FC youngster Doug Tharme made a career-changing move to Championship side Blackpool in January and he has opened up to MerseySportLive on his return to professional football.

Tharme’s career began at Wrexham AFC in their academy and he signed his first professional contract in 2018.

When he signed a semi-professional contract in the summer with Southport (after a spell where he fell out of love with football), his focus was on enjoying his football again.

However, a return to professional football was always his ambition and now that has become reality after Blackpool signed the 22-year-old in January before loaning him back to his parent club. 

When speaking on Saturday afternoon ahead of his sides important National League North match against Brackley Town, Tharme couldn’t hide his eagerness to get going with his new club.

He said: “Yeah, I’m ecstatic, to be honest.

“It has sunk in now, I’ve been there quite a bit dealing with the injury so I’m familiar with the lads, familiar with the process, the facilities.

“But I’ve not trained there, I’ve not had that immersion which I think will hit me in pre-season but my impressions have been brilliant so far.”

Tharme’s return to professional football

Tharme admitted that he has kept the prospect of returning to professional football in the back of his mind but never gave up on his dream.

He said: “I mean playing part-time and working, I had set my sights on getting back into full-time but tempered my expectations. Whereas as soon as it’s real, I’ve let myself smile a few times.

“I’ll pull into the car park and know at least for the next year or two and hopefully longer, that’s a place I can develop and hone my skills and get into that team.

“They’re doing really well so it will be difficult but that’s a problem for next year and I don’t really want to look beyond my immediate environment.

“There’s certainly an excitement and a kids spirit, you know? I am a professional footballer again and I’m a bit giddy.”

Tharme targets playoff spot

After signing the in-demand youngster, Blackpool decided to loan him back to Southport until the summer.

Therefore Tharme’s focus remains with Port until the summer and with the club sat inside the playoff positions as things stand, Tharme is setting his sights on securing a playoff place.

He said: “At the start of the year you always know it’s a possibility but as a group we were just taking it game by game.

“I think at the start of the season we really did have to take it game by game. We had to react to the loss we had the week before and slowly trying to pick up points. Then the run we went on before Christmas and through January, really put us on a foothold to be taking it seriously.

“Now we’re at the point where it’s not the business end of the season but most of the congestion has been.

“Promotion is the hope obviously but the playoffs is the minimum we’ve set now.”

Whether Southport get promoted to the National League or not, Tharme’s time in part-time football is coming to an end and a career in professional football beckons.