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My time at…Notts County..Part 2 Game over

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Our small, experienced squad made it difficult for us to have a settled team. Michael Johnson struggled to play 3 games a week. Although I was in a bit of denial at the time about this (I thought I could play 3 games a week but couldn’t either) he was pretty honest about it. He was a great player. Not just for Notts but at his other clubs.

 I remember playing against him for Grimsby Town against Birmingham City many years ago. I recall a situation during the game where I had about 10 yards on him chasing a ball. I sauntered through only to find that he had eaten up the ground on me and easily dispossessed me. Although at Notts he had lost some of his pace he could read the game amazingly. It was his last season that year and was a true Notts legend.

Training was always pretty good during my time at County. This was something that was very important to me. I had been at some clubs where training was a joke. Lots of standing around….very boring stuff. At the age I was 34, I was not going to get any better. In fact I was getting worse! So good training was essential. Lots of small sided games, passing drills, shooting drills.

The managements were very sensible with us older pros. We did slightly less training than the younger boys which allowed us to recover quicker. Ian was very good with us in this way. He had suggested that we would not be needed on Mondays for training but given that our results were not anywhere good enough then it was not an option.

We played some great stuff that season without really being too effective. We were great up to the final third but didn’t have the required quality to win enough games. We missed chances at vital times in games and conceded against the run of play too often. I was as guilty of anybody for this. I think I actually played too deep which meant that I was not in the penalty box enough when the ball arrived. Miles Weston was so quick that nobody could keep up with him !!

Myself, Delroy Facey, Sean Canham and Spencer Weir-Daley were the striking options.  The highlight of my season was my hat-trick against Port Vale. It was a day to remember for me. Unfortunately there were not enough days like that for me personally at Notts County.

By February I was starting less matches than ever before. My form was poor so I had no complaints really. Jonathan Forte was brought in and he started scoring immediately. He had the pace that our attack was missing. I remember thinking to myself at around that time that I was getting too old for this. I just wasnt a god as I used to be. age had caught up with me and it was showing. This in turn led to me becoming frustrated with myself which affected my form even further.

From then on I knew that I would not get a new contract. I also knew that this would probably be my last season in pro football.

Unfortunately Notts County didn’t see anywhere near the best of me. At the end of the season was the time when all of the out of contract players learned their fate. The season had been a failure. Our league position was poor. There were times when we flirted with relegation but it never looked like a reality to me. We lost to non-league opposition in The FA Cup to Kettering and the squad was too old. When you have a season like this then not too many players are taken on. Most of the out of contract players were released. Gavin Strachan, Richard Butcher too. I was surprised about Butch because the club were keen to discuss a new deal with him in January before his injury against Kettering.

Ian was very good when I was called in. We were not aware that it was happening but once I got the call I knew the score. He didn’t go around the houses and just told me outright that I was to be released. I replied that I didn’t deserve a new deal after the season I had so it wasn’t a sour encounter like many of these are with other players.

So there it was. Game over…literally. I knew it couldn’t last forever but when it actually happens it took a while to sink in.

C’est  la vie.

Interview with ex-Notts legend Mark Stallard. Your questions please for Mark. 

 

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Then and now…Hull City

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

 

When I joined Hull City Peter Taylor was the manager. The club had just moved to The KC Stadium and there was a great deal of expectancy from all angles. Adam Pearson had turned around the financial fortunes of the club and they were seen as big spenders in the basement division.

Adam Pearson stands out for me as the main reason for the rise up the League ladder for Hull City. He was always great to deal with and went out of his way to get to know the players.

  It seemed like it was only a matter of time before the club would be in a higher division, and so it turned out. As we see today Hull City has had tremendous success over the last 4 or 5 years. Although many fans will not be 100% content with the current plight I am sure that if you asked fans back then if they would be happy with how the club has faired then a high percentage would say ‘yes’. The Premier League has seen the club achieve a new status within the game but with that has brought financial problems which have burdened the current manager, Nigel Pearson. The Premier League is such a financial strain on the majority of clubs that if that status is not constantly achieved then there is always the risk of financial worries down the line. Hull City are no different. The wage bill has been cut considerably since the Premier League relegation which has affected the size of the squad. On paper though there is enough there to suggest that they will not be in the bottom half of The Championship for too long. At this particular time we see Hull City putting some decent form together. They are proving a very difficult team to beat. They are starting to score more freely in recent matches which will please everybody. If the home form can be improved it will certainly help matters. Some supporters have questioned the ability of manager Nigel Pearson. This seems pretty silly to me. His recent record at Leicester City stands up against any manager in the lower leagues. I remember thinking how fortunate Hull City were to get him when he arrived. Hull City is now a big club so it is testament to the club that they can attract managers contracted to other clubs so well. I see this season as a consolidation season, both on and off the pitch. The recent takeover could well allow some player spending in January although, unless any purchases pay off immediately, a promotion push may have to wait until next season. They will be in the same boat as many Championship clubs as a former Premier League club which only goes to prove what a tough division The Championship really is.

Jamie Forrester interview

November 29, 2010 2 comments

 

 

 

I would like to say big thank you to everybody who posted questions.

 

 

Do you try to keep fit since your retirement?

Yes. I tend to do a bit of running. I have just committed to running The London Marathon 2011 so looking forward to that. Most of my fitness is done on my home vibration plate. I do my sit ups, press ups, core stability etc. It also massages after a run to help recovery.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy playing poker. I like to play live but love online poker mostly. I play tournaments as well as cash games. I see poker as calculated risks rather than gambling.

Did you have any particular special dietary requirements when you played?

My diet improved as I became more experienced. I took on extra supplements for Glucosamine Sulphate, Vitamin C, Cod liver oil etc.  

Why do you think more Englishmen don’t try their luck abroad?

These days it is down to money. The reason our top players went abroad years ago was because the money was much higher abroad. Now that The Premier League is one of the richest in the world the top players don’t need to.

Any examples of when you played scored a few but lost a game – did you have a go at defenders etc?

Football is a team game and everybody makes mistakes, none on purpose. I think that if you criticise anybody then you should do it constructively.

What is the longest you have rued a missed opportunity for?

Although all strikers miss chances it was missed penalties that stayed with me longest. The last penalty I took was for Notts County at Bournemouth and I casually placed it down the middle only for the GK to stay where he was and put his cap on it. Ouch!! I still get that sickly feeling just thinking about that one.

What was behind your decision to request you keep the number 18 shirt when you signed permanently for the Cobblers?

When I was on loan I wore the number 18 shirt and wanted to carry on the form I had had.

Jamie, while I’m sure you have lots of good memories, what do you consider the standout highlight of your playing career? There must be one.

I would have to choose my home Premier League debut. It was for Leeds Utd at home to Blackburn Rovers at Elland Rd. That day will stay with me forever.

Just wondering who was the best/worst manager you have worked under and why?

Best manager: Kevan Broadhurst at Northampton Town. Always got the best out of me, knew the game inside out tactically and had my total respect.

Worst manager:  I have been so lucky to have played for so many good managers that it would be harsh to choose a ‘worse’ one. They all have their own different qualities and weaknesses.

Did you ever feel luckier playing in certain colours?

I have played for that many clubs that I must have worn every colour in the rainbow so I can’t really attach one particular colour to be luckier than any other.

What’s your opinion on the FA retrospectively punishing players?
Is Joey Barton’s punch really any different to a horror tackle or an elbow to the face? Shouldn’t all violent incidents be dealt with one way or another?

We have the opportunity to look at video evidence if any misdemeanours have been committed. Just because 4 officials may miss something then that should not mean that somebody should be let off. If the camera catches it then they should be punished.

Out of the crop of Leeds youth you played with who was the one you thought would go furthest in the game. And, from the same group was there a player who did really well in the game who you thought wouldn’t make it?

I must admit that that squad didn’t live up to its potential. Noel Whelan had the best career but probably didn’t stand out in the youth team. He improved so much from the age of about 19 onwards. Unfortunately I probably thought that I would go on to achieve more than I did.

Did any of the fans from the clubs you played for stand out in terms of the support you received whilst playing for them?

All fans are passionate about their clubs. Just because there are more fans at some clubs compared to others doesn’t hide the fact that they all love their team. I must say that Northampton Town supporters made me feel most special. I even scored on my return to Sixfields for Hull City and received applause from the home crowd. That doesn’t happen to many players.

With the game, financially, coming under increased scrutiny, what, in your opinion, can clubs, the FA, and FIFA do to make sure less clubs enter administration?

There will always be a club willing to spend beyond its means whilst gambling for success. In theory, I would suggest something similar to the NFL where it is a more of a level playing field each season.  In practice that will never happen because the world’s biggest clubs would never relinquish their power on the game to make the game a more level playing field. The rich get richer in football.

 Do you believe that young players are pampered in Britain leading to them being reckless and less determined to progress in the game?

The money that top young players receive these days throws up so many issues which go against becoming a top player. Hunger and desire can become watered down if a young player is financially secure. Not sure how we reverse this trend though.

What was it like playing for Southend and under Peter Taylor? Who was the best player at Southend at your time there?

Peter Taylor was a young manager at the time. I enjoyed playing for him and was also a huge reason for me signing for Hull City a few years later. I was at Southend when Ronnie Whelan was a player. We stayed in the same hotel together and was a legend at the time.

If all of your former clubs played each other in a tournament, whom would you personally want to win and why?

The clubs I remember most fondly are the ones where I performed to the highest level. With that in mind I would like to see Leeds Utd, Northampton Town, Scunthorpe Utd and Lincoln City all meet in the semi-finals. I would be happy whoever won!!

My question is about the future of the England national side. Do you think the amount of foreigners in the Premier League is stopping talent coming through, or is it helping our young players to develop?

It is undoubtedly stopping the amount of talent coming through. It is a numbers game. The pool of players available for international recognition is decreasing year on year. For those who do manage to come through the ranks will benefit from playing and training with the top players but there just aren’t enough English players who get to that level.

Who has been your favourite strike partner?

Steve Howard and Mark Stallard. I can’t choose between them.

Do you think that if English clubs enforced a more rigid lifestyle on their players in terms of diet, training and alcohol consumption, as they seem to do on the continent, coupled with more technical work, we might see a more successful England side?

I think that the strict, professional lifestyle of a footballer is most definitely enforced in this country these days. The technical training is also something that has become more widespread too at professional clubs. I just think that there are not enough English players at clubs at age 16+ for us to be positive about our national team for the future.

I think you said in a previous blog about how much spare time you have as a player Jamie. What did you used to do to fill that time?

I was very fortunate that it allowed me to spend a lot of time with my children whilst they were growing up. I am very grateful for that. Before that I played lots of golf and snooker and the occasional drinking session (see Leeds Utd blogs!!)

I also play a lot of Playstation. Pro Evolution Soccer and Call of Duty mainly.

If you were manager of Manchester United today, what would you change?

Although it is a position of power within the game I’m not sure if you can change too much on your own. The Rooney situation was out of the managers hands which proves the point.

Football management – would you?

Football management is something that everybody thinks they can do. I would love to have the opportunity but it is a very difficult position to get to, at any level. There are scores of applicants for every job so you do need to have a bit of luck with the right timing or have great connections.

What were your lowest and highest points during your spell with Scunthorpe United?

Lowest point: Probably the Loaded magazine situation. I was completely mis-quoted but nobody believed me at the time.

Highest point: Gaining promotion in 1999…easy one that !

As a young lad from Bradford, what convinved you to up sticks and move hundreds of miles to Auxerre?

I moved away from Bradford at a very early age but thought that Auxerre had a great youth set up and that I stood a great chance of progressing better there. They were light years ahead of all of our top clubs at that time.

Hi Jamie – What’s with the hair that re-appeared for the Keith Alexander memorial match? I hardly recognised you!!

I decided to grow it a bit (well in some areas !! ). May go back to the number 1 at some stage though.

On a serious note what is your favourite memory from Lincoln City?

My debut against GTFC was a great memory for me. One of those days where everything went how you want it.

Topical question here, “What do you think of Gillian McKeith, and who do you want to win I’m a Celebrity?”

I have to be honest, I haven’t seen all of it. However, it appears so obvious that she went in there for the money. One of few celebs that will come out with even less public appeal than when she went in.

John Fashanu, Mick Harford or Dave Felgate? Who do you/did you rate the most?

How old do you think I am ??? !!! Mick Harford from my few memories of them all.

My two eldest boys play in Leeds. One was in Leeds development centre for a year but knee injury cut it short a year ago-he’s 14. My 12 year old has a 6 week trial at Huddersfield hopefully. What advice would you give for a trial? Follow every coach instruction? Play your own game? Stand out etc

Yes, play your own game. Do your best but don’t try too hard…sounds easier than you think. Try not to get your hopes up too much. Trials can be very tough and you could perform to your absolute best and still not be successful. That is not being negative but realistic. Every player has to deal with rejection at some stage so make sure that you bounce back if it doesn’t work out at Huddersfield. I think that, realistically, 7 of the professional clubs I played for decided that they didn’t want me. It’s all part and parcel.

Hope this helps. Let me know how he goes on.

 

Hello Jamie, Iron fan here. Just what was it that John Gayle did that the naked eye couldn’t see? Or how important is it to play with a ‘Nasty Big Man’?

John Gayle was immense. The ball stayed up there when it was played forwards. Although he wasn’t prolific I would never have scored so many goals without him. A role model off the pitch too. He used to carry a tennis ball around with him and he was always trying to improve his footwork.

 

My time at Bristol Rovers..Part 3. Death threats and out of favour.

November 25, 2010 Leave a comment

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My form had mirrored the team. It was hit and miss, mostly miss. I was in and out of the team much like many of the squad. I never knew if I would start the next match and my performances certainly didn’t deserve my name being first down on the sheet. Although results weren’t good enough often enough it wasn’t a downbeat camp. In fact, we all seemed to enjoy coming to work. We had some really good lads who I became very good friends with. Many of us were in the same boat being in and out of the starting eleven so we all just got on with it. I think we had all settled in and all loved living in Bristol, I know I did.  

It was around this time that I was made captain by Ian Atkins. Our current skipper, James Hunt, was suspended and there seemed no obvious choice. We played away at Shrewsbury Town and I was summoned to the front of the bus on the way to the game. I thought I was getting dropped and was ready for the news. I didn’t see it coming at all to be honest but a huge honour nevertheless. That lasted 3 matches before James was back. He was the captain and rightly got the armband back.

Again I reverted to being in and out of the team. It was around this time that I received a letter in the form of a death threat. At first I thought it was somebody winding me up. It became clear that it  wasn’t  a prank as I read the whole letter. It actually threatened my wife and children which wasn’t very pleasant. The letter was written by hand and the spelling and grammar was very poor so I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It said that if I didn’t stop scoring then me and my family would get it. Now, my goal scoring form was poor at best during my time at Bristol Rovers so maybe it was a wind up after all !! I didn’t take it too seriously. I showed the manager who said he would deal with it but nothing further happened.  I also received another similar letter when Lennie Lawrence and Paul Trolloppe were in charge by what seemed like the same author too. A bit strange really but slightly un-nerving nevertheless.

At the end of the season I felt like I was being forced out. There was one game to go and we had nothing to play for. There were quite a few injuries so I thought I would play. Ian decided to draft in an emergency signing. Even though deadline had gone he sought permission from The Football League. Jefferson Louis signed and started the match. It was a massive sign that Ian wanted me out although he denied it. The following week we all had a one to one with the manager to talk about our performances over the season. Apparently the board wanted to get me off the wage bill. I was in the top bracket of earners at the time and they felt that they didn’t want a top wage being spent on a player that wasn’t playing all of the time. I didn’t know what to believe but it didn’t stop them circulating my name for transfer. Boston United showed an interest but it wasn’t right for me to leave at that stage. It would have meant up-rooting the family again and we were all very settled. I had two years to run on my contract and thought that I could improve the following season.

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My time at Lincoln City..Part 4. Another play-off disapointment

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

 

The BIG ELECTRIC SALE is now on at ASDA

Mansfield Town away for me was one of the most memorable days of my career. It was one of those days where everything I hit seemed to go in. I scored four goals for the first time in the league in my career. I had scored four on a few occasions in reserve matches over the years but they don’t count. It does when there are league points at stake.

When I arrived at Lincoln City Paul Mayo was the penalty taker. His penalties were ferocious. He has a cracking left foot on him and he blasted his penalties. I always liked taking penalties. Obviously it was a superb goal scoring opportunity but I always liked the pressure that came with taking penalties. Pass or fail. It was one or the other. Missing was a horrible experience and it could ruin your performance for the remainder of a match if you allow it to. I missed one of my few penalties at home to MK Dons which really annoyed me. We were 0-2 down just before half time and pulled one back only to be given a penalty to draw level. The keeper guessed correctly and saved it. I remember chewing over it for the whole of the half time period. It did cost us as we lost the match in the end, our first defeat of that season.

Back to the Mansfield game. As Paul Mayo had missed the last penalty away at Torquay I decided to get myself on them. I got two penalties that day to go with my other two from open play. I always enjoyed playing against Mansfield and scored against them many times over the years. This match got me off and running for the season which came as a huge relief after starting the season slowly in terms of goals.

We were a free scoring team in the first half of that season. We had goal threats from all over the pitch. We always thought that we could outscore any team we came up against. We let a fair few in at the other end so I guess we were good to watch. Many people tell me that particular Lincoln City team of that time was the most pleasing on the eye that they have seen. We really should have achieved promotion that season. We fell away in the second half of the season and stumbled into the play-offs. There were lots of opinions why we didn’t do it. I know that John wanted to strengthen the squad in the January window but wasn’t able to get the players he wanted. Our small squad probably couldn’t cope well enough with the long season that panned out too. Although we had a good blend of youth and experience I don’t think that the squad as a whole had enough depth. I also think that opposition teams wised up to us too. They knew our strengths and combated them effectively enough to annul us.

Bristol Rovers awaited us in the play-offs. We played them in the league towards the end of the regular season and it seemed that they had more than an uphill task to reach the top seven. I had a great chance to win the game and all but end their play-off hopes but squandered it. That came to haunt us unfortunately. They were my previous club who hadn’t wanted me so I was very keen to beat them.

A tough away leg saw us return to Sincil Bank with a 2-1 deficit to overturn. We thought we could do it but two early goals at Sincil Bank made it a very tough ask. We put up a fight but in the end we were second best over the two legs. It was a tough defeat to take. My old club had got the better of me and I also thought that it was maybe my last chance to play at the new Wembley and gain promotion. Although I had another year left on my contract you can never take a play-off place for granted.

So the second season in a row had finished at the play-off semi final stage. A horrible way for a season to finish but overall you have to say that it was a successful one. The wage bill had been cut and we had lost McCombe and McAuley as well as a couple of others. That defeat stayed with me all summer and I was glad to get back for the start of pre-season training in the July.

The BIG ELECTRIC SALE is now on at ASDA

 

My weekend predictions for my previous clubs. Do you agree ?

November 19, 2010 1 comment

 

The BIG ELECTRIC SALE is now on at ASDA

 

 

Fridays will now see my weekend predictions for all of the clubs which I have played for.

Would be great to have your thoughts and suggestions. Here goes……

Derby vs Scunthorpe Utd

A tough one for The Iron. Derby seem to freeze  in front of the expectant home crowd.

My prediction: 1-1

 

Hull City v Ipswich

4 points from the last 2 games will provide the momentum for a narrow home victory against Ipswich

My prediction: 1-0

 

 

Norwich v Leeds United

Norwich is always a tough place to go. Leeds Utd find themselves in a play off spot. A high scoring draw would be a good result for Leeds to maintain a good league position.

My prediction: 2-2

 

 

 

Brighton v Bristol Rovers

Top placed Brighton will be a very difficult match to come through with anything. A comfortable home victory for Brighton

My prediction: 2-0

 

 

 

Notts County v Tranmere

A huge match at the bottom of league 1. A hard fought point each will help neither team.

My prediction: 1-1

 

 

 

Walsall v Carlisle

Walsall will be bouyant following their FA Cup replay victory in midweek but a strong Carlisle side to take all 3 points.

My prediction: 1-2

 

 

 

Barnet v Northampton Town

recent good form to see The Cobblers gain all 3 points at lowly Barnet

My prediction: 0-2

 

 Shrewsbury v Southend United

Shrewsbury to stay in the top 3 with a convincing home victory

My prediction: 3-1

 

 

 

Lincoln City v Hereford

Lincoln to win back to back matches for the first time in a long time and to grind out 3 points in a close match

My prediction: 1-0

 

 

 

Grimsby Town v Barrow

Grimsby Town to secure all 3 points to be hovering on a play off spot

My prediction: 2-1

 

The BIG ELECTRIC SALE is now on at ASDA

 

My time at …Lincoln City. Part 5 Out of contract. Should I stay or should I go ?

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Another pre-season began for me for the 2007-08 season. I think that it was my 18th pre-season and I can tell you that they don’t get much easier as you get older.

Again, we lost some of our main players. Jeff Hughes, the biggest casualty, earned a move away from Sincil Bank. He had scored quite a few goals the previous season and contributed heavily to our season.

Lincoln City had been in five successive play-off campaigns and not managed to achieve promotion on each occasion. Although everybody wanted to go one better it was always an uphill task given that playing budgets were cut year on year.

The season began at home to Shrewsbury Town. We were on the end of a heavy defeat to start off the season and it set the tone for a disappointing campaign. The squad was older and weaker. Teams had found a way to play against us and we found ourselves towards the wrong end of the table. Because of this we never had much of a settled team. We changed personnel, formation and tactics but our form never matched that of the previous season.

We played MK Dons away which we lost 5-0. It turned out to be the last match under John Schofield. The team looked like conceding goals too often and we didn’t manage to be as much of a threat in attack. I thought his departure was a little bit premature at the time but nothing surprises you in football. I have a lot to thank John Schofield for. He rejuvenated me at a time when my career was coming to an end. I don’t think that the circumstances at Lincoln City when he left were all his fault but I honestly believe that he would be a success if he were to manage again. The abuse he took from some sections was disgraceful. I even heard one fan threaten to stab him as he walked past the dug out toward the end of one match. When you consider what he did for the club it does make you wonder what some people expect.

So Peter Jackson was installed and immediately gave the whole place a lift. I had a couple of niggling injuries at the time of his arrival and, again, wondered what the immediate future held for me. We turned into a gritty, hard working team who ground out results to steer us away from danger. It wasn’t all that pretty but confidence grew and we did enough to be safe. I had a lot of time for Peter. He managed to turn things around really well and had everybody playing for him.

Unfortunately his illness meant that he was away from the club for a lengthy period of time. It was obviously a tough time for him and thankfully he won his battle against cancer. He won Manager of the Month before he left for his cancer treatment which shows the form we were in up to his departure.

Iffy Onoura took over temporarily and it was just a matter of keeping things ticking over.  There were quite a number of us who were out of contract that season. I felt like I had to perform to get anywhere near an offer. At my age even that may not have been good enough. We were told that no decisions were to be made about any of us until he season had finished. I had to accept it even though it was frustrating. I honestly didn’t have a clue if I was to be offered one until I walked in to see Iffy at the end of the season. Normally you get a feel for certain situations and if I was honest then I didn’t feel that confident.

 I was one of the fortunate ones to be offered a contract. To be honest there were a few scenarios that could have occurred. I could have been released, offered a contract on significantly less money or offered a contract on the same terms. There was little chance of a pay rise seeing as though I was 33. So the outcome was as good as could be expected, a 1 year offer on the same terms. I was very happy with that although there were a couple of other stipulations relating to my off the field activities. I was running a soccer academy at the time and Lincoln City were concerned that there was a conflict of interest between my academy and the club, who have their own coaching set up. It was a shame but it forced my hand a little bit. The dilemma I faced was to play for Lincoln City under restrictions or move under no restrictions. I can see it from both sides but I was 33 and knew that there were not too many years in the tank remaining so I had to choose for the sake of my future.

 
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