As another influx of eager freshers anticipate their first foray into the highly demanding world of BUCS football, many of these players should look to follow the example of a recent Durham alumnus whom has made the step up to the professional level.
In May, Ben Dudzinski signed for League Two side Hartlepool, a team based only 20 miles from the Maiden Castle pitches upon which the DUAFC 1st XI goalkeeper first made his name in the North. After being spotted by local talent scouts while playing in the BUCs Championships for Durham, Dudzinski enjoyed successful spells at local semi-professional teams Tow Law Town and Ashington.
These appearances caught the eye of Hartlepool and after impressing Manager Craig Hignett and Goalkeeper coach Tony Craig in the latter part of last season, the former DUAFC goalkeeper put pen to paper and signed a contract for the Pools.
Having graduated in June with a 1st in Sport Science and after completing a strong pre-season with the team, Dudzinski is now an established member of the squad. Palatinate Sport caught up with the former Aidanite to discover how his first few months as a professional footballer have been.
Speaking about how his first three months at the club, Dudzinksi said “I’ve settled in really well. I’ve loved every minute of the football so far and everyone at the club has been really welcoming. I’ve enjoyed it a lot and I’m looking forward to everything that is to come.”
Over the last few years, DUAFC have developed into one of most the formidable teams in the BUCS leagues, winning the BUCs Northern division and reaching the semi-finals of the BUCs Championships last season. However, despite playing at a high level consistently over the last three years, Dudzinski is effusively positive about the increase in intensity of playing professionally.
“DUAFC was a really good standard but Hartlepool has been a step up which I’ve really liked. It has been a good challenge and I feel I’ve done well and improved a lot already. I’ll continue to be pushed and challenged and I intend to improve a lot more.”
At the time of writing, Hartlepool sit 15th in the League Two table. Nevertheless, the young Pools goalkeeper is confident that the club can climb their way up the table as the season progresses.
“Overall we’ve had a good start to the season but we still have a lot more to give. We have a great team and can definitely push ourselves up the table. Hopefully we can put some good runs together and we never know where that can take us.”
Dudzinski is the second DUAFC player in two years to sign professional terms with an English club, following the example of Jonny Giles, who signed for League Two side Oxford United in 2015.
Photograph: Hartlepool United FC