This summer, James Berrett joined the hundreds of footballers forced out into the cold and seeking a route back into the game.
Despite making more than 50 league appearances in a two-year spell at Grimsby, the Halifax-born midfielder was released by The Mariners at the end of last season, along with Shaymen defender Nathan Clarke.
For Berrett, the familiar camaraderie and sense of belonging of pre-seasons past was replaced by introspection, worry and uncertainty.
“It wasn’t nice to be honest,” he said. “It was the first time I’ve been out of contract.
“You’re doing as much training as you can but at the back of your mind, you want to be training with a team.
“It’s completely different training on your own to training with other players.
“As it went on, it was frustrating. You’re thinking ‘is something going to happen?’.
“But luckily Halifax came up and I was delighted it did.
“I’d pretty much been training on my own, I didn’t have a pre-season anywhere.
“The manager got in touch and from there I was straight into it.
“It was tough on the legs but I managed to get through it!”
Berrett, who lives in Huddersfield, was keen to stay as local as he could with his next club.
“There were a couple of other options but for the stage of my career I’m at, and with having a young family, it wasn’t going to be worth it for the travelling,” he said.
“It was a worrying time but luckily it worked out well.”
The midfielder was born in Elland and, like team-mate Clarke, watched The Shaymen as a youngster.
“I came to Halifax a few times with my dad to watch them so it’s nice to be back,” he said.
“I remember the crowd, the atmosphere and feeling like the stadium was massive because I was so small.”
Berret started in the academy at Huddersfield Town in their under 12s and went through all the age group levels before signing a professional contract.
“It was a nice feeling to make my debut for the club I supported,” he reflected, “it was quite special.
“I enjoyed my time there, I made 40-odd appearances for them.
“The one that sticks in my head is probably Chelsea away in the cup, that was a good one.”
But he fell out of favour with The Terriers and eventually moved on.
“I think it had run its course,” he said, “and at the age I was, 21, I wanted to play.
“I was a bit-part player really.
“I didn’t just want to sit around, but I had a good spell at Carlisle after that where I was more of a regular.
“I was probably at my best in the first couple of years at Carlisle, I managed to score a few goals, we did alright in the league and we won the Football League Trophy, so I got to play at Wembley.”
After four years at Carlisle, there were spells at Yeovil, York and Grimsby.
“That’s part and parcel of it at lower league level. If you’re not playing for whatever reason, you’ve got to move on because you need to play games,” Berrett said.
“It’s no good sitting around, and your contract’s aren’t long enough, like they are in the top leagues, to be able to not be playing.
“I want to play for as long as I can, so it’s all about playing for me and doing well.
“I’ve come to a team that’s started very well, so hopefully if I can help, I will do.”
Berrett has been impressed by his team-mates so far, and is focusing on maintaining Town’s strong start to the season.
“It’s a good squad, there’s a lot of talent there, good energy and a good mix of older and younger players,” he added.
“From where we’ve started, we want to keep this momentum.
“I think momentum is a big word in football. If you’re winning games it’s important to keep that going, and we’ve just got to keep working hard on the training field, which the manager will make sure we do, and transfer that into games.”