A few days before Thanksgiving, an article was posted on the Union's website announcing the waiving of three players, with two additional links on the front page in the preview.
The item that caught my eye, however, was a small throw-away link asking if anyone remembers Joe Tait. The link - which has since been pulled - redirected to a highlight video of a Darlington-Celtic Nation game.
Very random. Very odd.
So, even though it's disappeared, the question still stands: do you remember Joe Tait?
After a trial with the Union in August of 2011, Tait, a former USL PDL Defender of the Year, signed with the team on September 13 after appearing in two reserve matches and that year's annual friendly against the Harrisburg City Islanders. His time with the Union would prove to be short-lived, as his contract option was declined just four months later.
I reached out to Joe to find out more about his time with the Union and what he's up to these days.
Four Months in Philadelphia
Tait's signing with the Union came about thanks to Brendan Burke, who first scouted him in 2010 during a game against Portland.
"Brendan is a top guy and not only did he bring me to the Union," Tait said to the Brotherly Game's Union Rumors, "but hes someone who has helped and given me a lot of career advice in the short time I've known him."
Despite a short tenure in Philadelphia that ended without a chance at playing time, Tait had nothing but great things to say about the team, and enjoyed every minute he spent in Philadelphia.
"I loved every minute of my time in Philly," Tait said. "The club has a great feel to it and everyone's in it for each other. I think that was a key factor in how well the lads did in 2011. The mixture of youth and experience really made it a good place to be."
Even though former head coach Peter Nowak's reputation went south in his final days at the helm, reports after he left surely added to that downfall, Tait remembered him fondly for trying to help him develop, according to the player. That feeling of respect has remained in spite of a dust up at the Union's 2011 Open Practice, attended by fans.
"The gaffer was brilliant with me," said Tait. "When I signed he was very encouraging and keen to push me on. Unfortunately, I suffered an injury set back that really halted my progress and therefore was no good to him at a time where we needed all the players we could, with the busy schedule and playoffs approaching."
That respect also carried over to current head coach John Hackworth, who was equally impressive in Tait's improvement and in management of the team, leading the central defender to put his faith in a resurgent Union in 2013.
"Hack was also brilliant with me," Tait said. "The respect the lads have for him is of the highest level, and this is why it came as no surprise at the sudden change of form when he took over. His enthusiasm and passion for the game rubs off on everyone around him and I think the future looks bright with him in charge."
Where is Tait Now?
So, where is Joe Tait now?
He's currently playing at Darlington 1883, a club that has suffered a lot of problems in the last few months.
"[Darlington was] relegated from the football league and [is] going into liquidation," Tait said.
The players at Darlington have kept their heads held high as the club undergoes an incredibly volatile period.
"We have adopted a never say die attitude throughout," said Tait, "this stems from the fans backing and control over the club. Again, I think this atmosphere is a key factor of the success we are having so far this season."
Interestingly, his deal with the team is on a pay as he plays basis. Tait is not contracted long-term with Darlington.
"My deal here is on a pay as I play basis and I am not contracted long term," Tait said, "as I don't know what the future holds. I love America and eventually want to be back in the states, but I guess we will just have to wait and see."
Having spent time in the United States, Tait has said that he loves the country and eventually wants to return - and would love to come back to Philly if the opportunity came along. In the meantime, playing in the lower leagues of England has helped him develop.
"I think playing in the lower leagues here in England has really brought my game on," Tait said, "as you have to do the nasty side of the game which I am starting to enjoy funnily enough. Also its nice to pop up with a few goals now and then."
"I'd love to come back to Philly if the opportunity came along, who knows what the future holds."