Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Callum Tapping’s career is one I’ve always kept an eye on. After all, we grew up in the same ends in FK; we even attended the same school - that was until Tapps’ was tempted away by the bright lights of London at 16, of course.
But when I first had the idea of creating Stonewaller Magazine, Tapping epitomised exactly what I wanted to do. Despite being only 27, he has been through a lot in his relatively short career. Since returning north of the border with Heart of Midlothian in 2011, he’s enjoyed highs and suffered lows - albeit with the latter outweighing the former.
And whilst appreciating his fortunate position as a professional footballer, he recognises there has been an element of misfortunate that has followed him to this point. Whether that’s been a case of wrong place, wrong time, recurring injuries or just downright bad luck, Tapping has suffered his fair share of hardships.
With that said, Tapps is still in his mid-twenties and yet to peak - there are plenty miles left in the tank for this mercurial midfielder. Right now? He is back going strong in his secondary home of Angus with Forfar Athletic. But it’s the story that led him to Station Park I wanted the supporters of his former clubs to be able to hear. I wanted those fans to understand Callum’s take on events since he left for Tottenham as a fresh faced teen. So, from Falkirk to Forfar, and everything in between, here it is.
Firstly, Callum, give us the first thing that comes in to your mind……
First kit - AC Milan
First pair of boots - Lotta - an Italian combo!
Best match you’ve been to - Probably a grassroots game! But, in terms of a professional one, Spurs vs Chelsea at Wembley, 2008 - the League Cup Final.
Favourite track - Guten Tag, Hardy Caprio
Current boot brand - Nike
Favourite clothing brand - Nike
Team supported growing up - Arsenal!
Favourite tattoo - The clock on my arm - the time my youngest brother was born
Best dressed you’ve played with - I’ve played with a few! But I’ll go with Ryan Frederiks
Dream stadium - Nou Camp
Best position - Centre Mid
Let’s get in to the serious stuff. You and I attended the same high school, with you being the year above me up until 2009, at which point, you signed for Tottenham from Hamilton Accidemical as a 16 year old - tell us how that move came about…… I was at Celtic from the age of 10 until I was 15, and left there to go to Hamilton - there was a bit of controversy about that at the time. I was there for about 9 months when, at the end of the season, I got a call from the Hamilton chairman to say that myself and another player, Euan Lindsay, had been asked to go for a weeks’ trial at Spurs. He mentioned that they’d watched me play and liked what they saw - would I be interested in going down? The answer was obviously ‘Of course’! So, straight away, myself and Euan went down for the week. We were a bit shell shocked at first as, at that point, we were under-16’s, but their 16’s weren’t full-time, so we got put in to the 18’s. You’re then giving away 2-3 years to these boys who, at that age, are much bigger than you; it was intimidating for us. We then trained with the reserves in the afternoon; with players who were in and around the first team. I had just came from Hamilton training with kids! So that’s how the week was structured. At the end of that week, we played in a friendly with the reserves against, I think it was Barnet, at the Spurs Lodge. Euan and I got 45 minutes each and we both did well. On our last day, we got pulled in to the office. They told Euan that they liked what they saw, but they wouldn’t take it any further at that point. Then they asked me to stay on and go on tour with the 18’s to Switzerland for a week - that was a bit awkward. But, by the time I came back, a deal between Hamilton and Spurs was already sorted and that was it! That season, I stayed at Accies as I was too young to move down. Every 2 weeks I’d get flown down to train with Spurs for a few days and play on a Saturday before coming back to play with Accies on the Sunday.
Were there any other clubs in for you when you signed for Spurs? It all came about so quickly so not really. There were a couple of clubs interested but nothing materialised.
As a 16 year old, was it a difficult decision to leave behind your friends and family or was the opportunity too good to turn down? I didn’t even think about it to be honest. I just jumped at it. The opportunity was given to me and, straight away, it was a case of: where’s the permanent marker so I can sign this contract? The realisation of moving away from home didn’t really set in until I had my leaving night with friends. But I was just focused on playing football.
Just on your friends, one of your closer ones, Graeme McGregor, signed for Bolton from Falkirk the same summer you moved to London. Was it good having someone so close to you go through the same process at the time? With my move being completed basically a year in advance, I had that season to, kind of, build up to it. For Graeme, his move was completed within 2 weeks; so we never had many conversations prior to it. But, when we were down there, it was good. You’re still young; 15, 16, away from home, it’s difficult. If we were struggling we could ask each other what we’d do in certain situations. So yeah, it was good to have someone to talk to.
One thing I wanted to touch on briefly was that you were born in London and lived there until you were 6 - did that have an impact on your decision to sign for Spurs and move back to London? Not really, but it did make it slightly easier for me when I was down there - I had my dad’s side of the family there so, if I was feeling lonely, I could go visit them on a weekend. In that sense, it was a little bit easier for me in comparison to someone else moving away from home at that age.
Continuing on the theme of family, one person you were always rumoured to be related to at high school was Chip (formerly know as Chipmunk). What can you tell us about that? I always get questions about that! It was weird. So, I was never really close with him. But yeah, I suppose I am loosely related to him - he’s a cousin via my uncle’s wife. But, with it being from her side, I’d only see him now and again, have a conversation or two - but never a case of texting and meeting up.
So you’re now in London. What was your overriding feeling when you first moved down? Probably nerves. Again, it was slightly different as I had met the boys previously. But, in London, the boys’ personality and their characters are a bit different to home. We come from Falkirk, but Glasgow boys are different to us - they’re louder, a bit more gallus. In London, it’s another 2 or 3 levels above that! They’re loud, confident, cocky; in a good way - but I was a young boy. So I had to have a bit about me to survive as they were ruthless! Something that I’d never experienced before. It definitely made me stronger - both mentally and as a footballer. So it was good in the long-term.
What was the living situation when you went down? You got an option of fending for yourself or getting put in digs. But the money I was earning at 16 meant that digs were the only viable option. Which was fine. Some I enjoyed, others not so much. For my first one, I was on my own - probably the last thing you want when you’re moving away from home - most of the other boys were doubled up. There was no TV, I was constantly bored; they were a lovely family, but it wasn’t for me at the time. So I moved in with someone else soon after, which I really enjoyed.
How about your social life life? What was that like outwith training and digs? At first, it was obviously a struggle; it was more a case of trying to fill your days. Furthermore, you didn’t get it easy down there. You had to be in for 8:30am and you’d be there until 4pm, Monday to Friday; so that was difficult. It w