Meet Adam Boyes: PE teacher, Man Utd trialist and the 2021/22 FA Cup's leading goalscorer

The trophy at the end of it all
The trophy at the end of it all / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

From a tournament newbie after the second qualifying round to a seasoned (dare we say, grizzled?) veteran of the competition after the fourth – the Emirates FA Cup's inaugural top scorer competition (in partnership with Mitre) has already run the gamut of potential leaders.

Adam Boyes of Marske United passed Jersey Bulls' Sol Solomon with a brace in the third qualifying round against Chester, before adding a season-high 11th strike in a 3-2 replay defeat away at Gateshead in the fourth.

Unlike the raw Solomon, Boyes has been in the game for some time – even earning himself a trip to Wembley the best part of a decade ago with a Player of the Round performance for Barrow against Witton, where his four second-half goals secured a roaring comeback.

A non-league stalwart, the 30-year-old striker racked up the goals for Barrow, Guiseley and Bradford Park Avenue in the National League and National League North before dropping down the pyramid last summer to join Marske in what the club called the biggest signing in their history.

Speaking to 90min this week, Boyes explained that the decision to drop down through the leagues for the move was simple, with the club based just ten minutes away from his home.

The Middlesbrough fan, currently working as a PE teacher at a local primary school, also reflected on his team's run through the qualifying rounds (a run which started in August, spanning five rounds and seven matches).

"We were unlucky to go out," he said. "We drew the first game [against Gateshead] 0-0 at home when we probably should've beaten them. In the replay, it was 0-0 at half time and they came out a lot better than us, you could tell they had a full-time team. We couldn't get near them for 15-20 minutes, and they put the game away. It was good though, we had Chester the round before and South Shields are a proper team, so we beat some good teams."

Earlier in his career, Boyes was a massively hyped young forward – being signed from non-league York for a reported six-figure sum by Scunthorpe in their Championship days of the late 2000s.

He even had a week-long trial (extended to two after he impressed) at Manchester United in 2008, of which he said: "I was training one day at York and they said 'Man Utd have said they want a trial', I obviously didn't believe them at first. I stayed down for two weeks in digs with a family, it was really good.

"I played a few games for the Under-21s and scored a few goals, and I was sat with Ronaldo and Rooney and the like eating dinner. They weren't as big as they are now, but when you're sat with them it's surreal. People like Tom Cleverley were there in that team, but not the ones who went on to be unbelievable."

Self-described as 'one for the tap-ins and follow-ups', Boyes also appeared for England C three times shortly after his United trial. "You get looked after like you're a Premier League player," he gushed. "The places you stay, all the staff and equipment, it's exactly the same."

Those days are behind Boyes now, but he still has a full league season and an FA Trophy campaign (a tournament he played in the final of in 2009 with York) ahead.

"We're third in the league, but we've played fewer games than other teams because of the Cup and the replays –and we're still in the FA Trophy. I don't mind the fixture congestion thing though, I'd rather play than train, that gives me a chance to score, anyway. I feel like physically I could play basically every day, I know some people struggle the day after games but it's never really affected me."

Marske play in the FA Trophy on Saturday, while the FA Cup returns with the first round proper on Friday 5th November.