It is some time now since he was a teenage hotshot scoring spectacular goals for Carlisle United’s youth and first teams.

David Symington turns 30 this weekend – yet he’s in the form of his life for the west Cumbrian home town club he has made his home.

Symington’s two goals for Workington Reds against Warrington Rylands on Saturday took him to 20 goals for the campaign already.

Only one player in the Northern Premier League Premier Division has more than the Reds captain.

Symington is leaving a number of top players at that level, including several former Football League goalscorers, in his wake.

It is a result, says his manager Danny Grainger, of Symington being in the best shape he has ever been in.

“The work that he does for the team is brilliant and he’s getting his rewards,” said Reds boss Grainger, speaking to Steve Durham in a club interview after the weekend’s 2-2 draw.

“I think this is the fittest Dav has ever been – he’ll openly say that.

“He’s at a good playing weight, he came back for pre-season in great shape and that’s why he’s getting the rewards now.”

Symington has now equalled last season’s tally before January is out – and is ten away from reaching the 100-goal mark at Borough Park.

News and Star: Symington is second in the NPL Premier goalscoring chartsSymington is second in the NPL Premier goalscoring charts (Image: Ben Challis)

“Dav will get enough chances to get the ton this year without a shadow of a doubt, because that’s the type of player he is,” added Grainger.

“He frustrates the life out of me at times but there’d be many, many clubs that would snap my hand off to have Dav Symington in their squad.

“If he keeps pushing himself I’ll be confident he’ll go and hit his next landmark.”

Symington’s goalscoring has been a major factor in Reds’ competitive efforts throughout their first season back on non-league’s third tier.

And his campaign has seen him take the honour of captaining the team after previous skipper Conor Tinnion recently stepped up to be joint assistant manager alongside Jamie Devitt.

As ever, there has been no shortage of trademark long-range missiles amongst Symington’s goalscoring, with Saturday’s second goal from this category.

His first, though, came from closer in after an attractive move involving two of Reds’ young loanees – Carlisle United’s Sam Hetherington and Preston North End’s Kitt Nelson.

Only Matlock Town’s Jonathon Margetts, with 22, is enjoying a more prolific season in NPL Premier, with the likes of Jack Redshaw, Lewis Alessandra and John Rooney among those who cannot currently get close to Symington’s goalscoring numbers.

News and Star: Symington in action for Carlisle in 2014Symington in action for Carlisle in 2014 (Image: Barbara Abbott)

His efforts have helped Workington remain in the mid-table pack after last season’s memorable play-off promotion, with Grainger’s team currently 13th – and the reliability of Symington’s scoring has been a particularly central factor given the injury problems Grainger has had to negotiate throughout the 2023/24 campaign.

His talent for scoring has always been clear even if the professional game did not prove a lasting home for Symington. He came into United’s academy at 16 after a trial and, as he came through the youth side, developed a particular knack for striking the ball from distance.

“I tried to replicate players in the Prem,” he told me in 2020. “I used to watch Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s one of the hardest techniques, I think. You’ve got to hit the valve of the ball, with just the bottom of the foot, where the laces begin: you flick at it with your leg.”

When he made the professional grade Symington sometimes executed this skill to spectacular effect. His free-kick for Carlisle against Scunthorpe United in 2013 remains one of the most remarkable set-piece goals Brunton Park has seen.

Further such efforts followed against Doncaster Rovers and Bournemouth and Symington clocked up 90 appearances in the Blues teams of Greg Abbott, Graham Kavanagh and Keith Curle, but life under the latter did not pay off and Symington left Carlisle in 2015, aged 21.

“He [Curle] got results for the club, but he wasn’t my cup of tea,” Symington said. “That’s just part of life. You’ve got to get on with it.”

 “I hadn’t experienced anything like it before [being so far out of favour]. You’ve just got to pick yourself up, but at the time I didn’t because I didn’t know what to do.

“Out of favour in the thing you love, having to sit at the back. You can go one of two ways – give up, or graft. I tried to graft, but that didn’t get me anywhere either.”

After being released, he had a spell at Barrow before falling out of football, yet a return to the game with Workington in 2016 reminded him of what he had been missing and – eight years on, he’s still there, now tearing up the goalscoring charts like never before, and on the cusp of a milestone which would plant him firmly in the Borough Park club’s history books.