CALLUM Camps has been left confused as he builds up to arguably the biggest day of his footballing career.
Even he does not have an idea as to why he is described as hailing from Stockport – Stalybridge is where it all began and where it still goes on.
Stockport County midfielder Camps will step out at Wembley on Sunday, May 28 as they go for promotion in the League Two Play-Off final against Carlisle United.
Gracing the hallowed turf of the national stadium is a long way from playing on astroturf pitches in Copley and for Ridge Hill Celtic.
But memories of starting in his home town – where he still lives, close to where he grew up in the Demesne Drive area – will be vivid.
“I don’t know where the thing of Stockport being my home town came from to be honest,” said Camps. “I come from Stalybridge and was born at Tameside Hospital!
“I went to Copley school and my family are all from around the area and growing up on a council estate, before the age where everyone had mobile phones and tablets, I was literally out playing football on the street or on a little astroturf or concrete pitch.
“That’s all I’d do. When I came home from school, I’d be out every day and would play anywhere I could with some of the older kids.
“There were a lot of good kids I played alongside. They’re working now and didn’t go into professional football but they were good players.
“So growing up in Stalybridge had a massive impact on me really.”
Camps came through as a professional at Rochdale before moving to Fleetwood Town and ending up at Stockport, where he plays alongside another Tamesider, Gee Cross’ Antoni Sarcevic.
However, it all started close to home as he added: “I first played for Dukinfield Youth before changing to Ridge Hill Celtic.”
And if Stockport succeed, just a year after being promoted back into the Football League, Camps will not be the only 27-year-old from Stalybridge to have won at Wembley.
There are more similarities with Rob Holding, the former West Hill pupil who now plays for Arsenal, than you may think too.
“I know Rob from knocking about in Stalybridge,” Camps said.
“We were both footballers but we used to go out back in the day and in the early years of high school, we’d be out in the same area.
“It was the same old things really – going out to house parties or knocking around in Cheetham or Stamford Park, that was it.
“We never ended up playing against each other in a school match, or a junior club game. Rob was at an academy from quite a young age.
“I’d say it was fairly apparent then that we were going to be footballers and what he’s gone on to do is amazing.
“It’s very different journeys that we’ve been on but now we’ve both played quite a few games in our careers.
“We stay in contact. He messaged me after we won the semi-final against Salford City, saying, ‘I’ve just watched it, good luck in the final.’ Earlier in the season, he also got me some tickets to watch Manchester United v Arsenal.
“Now I look back on that and think, ‘bloody hell.’ I think the people I knocked about with were different to the ones he knocked about with though!”
Camps’ and Holding’s journeys through football may have seen them end up in very different situations but the aim is the same, win.
And victory would earn Stockport a second straight promotion, six years after Stalybridge Celtic played County in National League North.
When the sides met, there was an interested away spectator at Edgeley Park.
Camps added: “I can’t really believe they were that low. To think how many fans turn up now, it was mad to see how far they did drop.
“I watched Stalybridge Celtic when I was younger and went watching them at Stockport away. I was in that away end, now I’m walking out at Wembley with Stockport!
“But it’s on the up now. Hopefully it can keep going over the next few years. The way we’ve been this year, I don’t see how we can’t go into League One and push on.”
The Play-Off final will not be the first time Camps has graced the Wembley turf, although the occasion will be very different.
As a Rochdale player, he faced Spurs in the FA Cup while they played there and he hopes two things are radically altered, the result and the waiting for VAR, which will be in use.
He recalled: “Rochdale lost 6-1 that day. It was 1-1 at half-rime after a draw at Spotland, then they brought the big guns on and that was it.
“It was a different Wembley occasion, a strange one, as the pitch was covered in snow and it may have been one of the first games here where VAR was used.
“Something happened with a penalty and we were all stood on the pitch wondering what was going on as we weren’t used to it.
“It took quite a while for it to come to a conclusion. There are many things it’s good at, like when there’s a goal, but there are a lot of things that still need work.
“A bit of common sense could be used in some cases – it’s getting better though.”