You have to be pretty special to stand out in Rory Boulding’s family. Stanley’s new striker has an ex-world tour tennis player for a brother and a singer-songwriter for a sister.
The 22-year-old’s brother Michael was an ATP-ranked tennis player who roomed with Tim Henman and was good enough to feature in the Wimbledon qualifiers, then gave that up to become a pro footballer.
And sister Helen has toured with Bryan Ferry, co-written UK top-five chart hits for 911 and Alex Parks, sung backing vocals for Holly Valance and performed on The One Show.
But then Sheffield-born Rory is a man of many talents himself – he is a decent pianist and also dabbled in tennis as a teenager. So the striker is unlikely to be fazed by the prospect of trying to strike out on his own.
Rory has spent his entire professional career playing alongside Michael, who is 12 years his senior – first at Mansfield and then at Bradford.
But the two strikers decided it was time to go their separate ways when they left Valley Parade towards the end of last season. And so while Michael has been trying to win a contract at Championship side Barnsley, Rory has crossed the Pennines to help Stanley’s charge for success in League Two.
"Mick only started playing football at 23," Rory said. "As a youngster, he was at Manchester United until the age of 15, and then he started playing tennis, and got on to the world tour.
"And one day, he came back and said: ‘I love football. I don’t love tennis.’
"So he went on trial at Doncaster, and they were in the Conference at the time. They said: ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’
"And a week later, he signed for Mansfield in the league. And it took off from there. He got quite a long way with the tennis. He was among the top 10 senior players in the country, and he played in the Wimbledon qualifiers.
"Football was always my first love, though. I did play a little bit of tennis when I was younger, but it never really took off for me.
"I was at Rotherham as a schoolboy, so I was only going in two days a week.
"And then I went on trial at Mansfield, and I signed my first professional contract there. I had two seasons there, and then I had two seasons at Bradford.
"I played a lot of reserve team football – although I played a few first team games as well – and I think I’m ready to step up."
Rory is hoping to step out of Michael’s shadow at the Crown Ground, having spent the last four years getting increasingly frustrated at his lack of first-team football.
A prolific scorer in Bradford’s reserves, he made just three first-team appearances for them in two years, and had to settle for a paltry 21 minutes of League Two action last season.
He said: "For the last two seasons at Bradford, I was top scorer in the reserves. I scored more than 20 goals for the reserves in both seasons, but I hardly got a look in when it came to the first team.
"There were a lot of experienced strikers there who played every week, and there weren’t any injuries.
"But here, I going to get more opportunities to play and show what I can do."
Stanley boss John Coleman could certainly do with a goalscorer, having lost last season’s front three of Billy Kee, Michael Symes and Bobby Grant over the summer. And for Rory, it is a big chance to realise the potential that his big brother has always seen in him.
He said: "Mick’s been a big inspiration. He’s taught me a lot.
"I think we’re pretty similar in the way we play, which maybe hasn’t helped me in the past, because we’ve been at the same clubs for the last four years, and he’s been getting the shout before me every time. And he never gets injured!
"We’re similar players, so that’s probably a reason why I’ve not had as many opportunities. So even though we enjoy being together, it’s good to be separated and go to different clubs. It means I can start doing my own thing.
"We left Bradford together and we’ve been training hard all summer. We made a conscious decision to go to separate clubs, so I could make my own way.
"This is a chance for me to make my own mark now. I just want the chance to score goals."