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My predictions…November 27th

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

 

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Not every team playing this weekend but my predictions for my ex-clubs are below.

HEREFORD V LINCOLN CITY

A tough game for 2 sides near the bottom of the League 2 table.  Home advantage to see Hereford through to the next round.

My prediction: 2-1

SHEFF WED V NORTHAMPTON

Northampton to battle but lose by the odd goal.

My prediction: 2-1

NOTTS COUNTY V BOURNEMOUTH

Notts County to build on their midweek victory.

My prediction: 1-0

TORQUAY V WALSALL

Walsall to be in the hat for the draw.

My prediction: 1-1

MIDDLESBORO V HULL

Hull to continue their recent good form.

My prediction: 1-1

READING V LEEDS UTD

A tough game for Leeds Utd. A battling score draw similar to last week at Norwich.

My prediction: 2-2

 

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

November 19, 2010 1 comment

 

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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

 

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My time at Leeds United. Part 5. Not wanted so out of the door

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Under the radar Noel Whelan had crept above me in the pecking order and started the next season in the first team. Noel was a real hard-working player. The sort of player any manager would want  in his  team and someone you knew would give 100%. He wanted to learn too and did everything asked of him by Howard Wilkinson and Mick Hennigan. He wanted to chase lost causes and was willing to close down defenders while I was more concerned with flicks, back heels and trying to score spectacular overhead kicks at every opportunity. I didn’t know it but I was becoming lazy. Noel really kicked on and became a regular in the team and deservedly so.

I didn’t play in the first team until January of that season. It was the FA Cup third round at home to Crewe Alexander. Rod Wallace was injured and Noel Whelan had gone off the boil a tad as young players do from time to time. We won 3-1 and I managed to score my first senior goals. I got 2 that day and was absolutely buzzing again. I kept my place for the next 2 matches after that. Ipswich at home and Blackburn Rovers away.  I did absolutely nothing in either of those 2 matches with the latter being my last Premier League match. Alan Shearer demolished us that day as he so often seemed to whenever he played against Leeds United.

After that performance Howard Wilkinson must have decided that I was not up to Premier League standard and my attitude didn’t help at all. Looking back I couldn’t agree more. I had shown glimpses of a decent player but I had not managed any kind of consistency. A few years ago I saw Arsene Wenger being interviewed and the quote he used was ‘inconsistent means not good enough’. He was relating to his Arsenal team at the time but it made me realise that this was so true about me. That is maybe one reason why we see cup shocks from time to time. Most players at lower league level can produce a performance which is above that of their status but can they repeat it game after game? The answer is no of course . That is one reason why players find themselves in the lower leagues.

But it was a slow process which led to my exit from Leeds United and I was to be in massive denial that my top flight career was over. I had another  18 months to run on my contract. I tended to sulk from time to time in despair at not being involved with the first team. Not the kind of attitude any manager wants to see. Even if I was the best player in the world, which I certainly was not, nobody likes to see people sulking round the place. It must have looked like I was a real brat.

I was offered a loan to Scarborough who were then in the old Division 4. I turned that down. Fortunately an opportunity arose to go on loan to Southend United who were in the second tier. Peter Taylor was in charge at Roots Hall with Colin Murphy his assistant. .

After a couple of games there I found myself out of the team. Inconsistency was to blame again. So I was left with the decision of staying at Southend for another month in the reserves or returning to Leeds and playing in their reserves. A no brainer really. Southend was miles from home with nothing much to do so back I went.

In the final year of my contract Gordan  Strachan had semi-retired. His days of playing at the top-level were at an end and he had taken the role of coaching and playing in the reserve team. This came as a breath of fresh air to me.

So when Gordan Strachan began coaching us there was actually some great technical and tactical input and because he had the career he did I had total respect for him. An absolute legend. He coached and played in the reserve team that season. I felt like I improved greatly. He actually had me running aroung, working hard and scoring goals. But it was too late. My less than perfect attitude and inconsistency  had  caused Howard Wilkinson to kind of give up on me.

Some time after that a chance to go on loan Grimsby Town came along.  Their talisman striker Clive Mendonca was struggling with injuries which paved the way for me to get some games under my belt. I managed to score my first league goal of my career in my second match at home to Sunderland. It was screened live on ITV on a Sunday afternoon, before Sky had bought lower league football. It was a rare header in a comfortable victory. Again though the consistency factor affected me and I found myself out of the team after 5 or 6 matches. You could say that I was a confidence player at that stage. Thinking about it though who isn’t a confidence player? Gradually the rejection from Leeds had affected me. Since my Leeds United debut to my time at Grimsby I found myself to be quite a different player. At Leeds I was always looking to score a goal, to get a shot off from almost any angle. I wasn’t scared to miss. A year or two later I found myself always looking to pass and take less responsibility and find the easier option. Was it confidence? I’m not really sure but I certainly was less of a player because of it. That season fizzled out and it was back to Leeds where I was now out of contract.

Being out of contract didn’t worry me at all. Leeds did offer me a contract though. Not because they wanted me particularly but from a legal point of view. If they offered me a contract then they could ask for a transfer fee for my services. Brian Laws, Grimsby Town manager mentioned that he would be interested on signing me permanently but not if there was a fee involved. If I was free then he would consider it was his thinking. I didn’t pull up any trees while on loan at Grimsby but my age and pedigree was enough to have him interested. It was time to move on though. I was 20 now and needed to be playing on a more regular basis.

So over that summer I just waited for the phone to ring. And waited….and waited….and waited. I even bought an answer phone so as not to miss all of the phone calls that would come my way. That was a waste of money because the phone didn’t ring once.

Ouch !!

Back to Leeds then for pre-season training. They held my registration and had to keep paying me on a month- to-month contract. Surely in pre-season I would be on the move? Actually no. Nothing. I heard a sniff of Bradford City showing some interest but that quickly disappeared. September was now upon me and the first team were preparing for a UEFA cup tie away to Monaco. There were 23 players training, including me, and an 11-a-side practise match was being selected. I found myself being the odd man out. No surprise really. I had asked to leave. But when Mick Hennigan asked me to play the role of a linesman I had to draw the line somewhere. Although I was on the ‘least wanted’ list I wasn’t going to let them take the p**s out of me. I refused point-blank, grabbed a ball and jogged over to the other training pitch to train alone. I must have been shouted to return three or four times by Mick Hennigan but I was not backing down now. At the end of the session Howard Wilkinson came over to tell me that he was giving me a free transfer.  It felt very strange. Even though I knew I would be leaving I didn’t think it would be in this manner.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

 

Scunthorpe United vs Leeds United

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

As two of my former clubs go head to head today I thought I would preview the match.

Scunthorpe come into this game in fine form. They are currently on the back of some great away results. The victories at Preston and Watford were just at the right time and have propelled confidence amongst supporters who were beginning to doubt the squad. The addition of a couple of loan signings has invigorated the playing staff and has given everybody a much-needed kick up the backside. Another three points for The Iron today could see themselves knocking on the door for a play-off spot.

Leeds United come in to todays match off the back of two straight defeats and  a disastrous score line in their last match. The 0-4 drubbing sounds like perhaps worse than it actually is. Bellamy is clearly playing way below his level and Cardiff are hotly tipped to be in The Premier League next season. The away victory at Middlesbrough was an excellent performance with a great second goal which was good enough to win any match. This shows that consistency is something that is currently lacking from the team. I see Leeds Utd as a team who can beat any team on their day.

So the form guide is saying that Scunthorpe United will possibly be favourites for this match.Many of Scunthorpe’s points have come away from Glanford Park so far this season. If Leeds United can perform like they did against Middlesbrough then it will make for an interesting afternoon.

My time at…Leeds United. Part 4 Egging..and the South Africans arrive.

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Self-confidence had rocketed since my arrival in the First Team squad. They say that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and I would say that unfortunately I had found myself on the wrong side of that line at times. Don’t get me wrong, you do need confidence to be a professional footballer. All of the top players have it but they manage to churn out an 8 or 9 out of 10 performance every week. Eventually this affected my performances but in a negative way. The problem was that my niave, 18 year old mind  was saying ‘ all you have to do is turn up and it will happen for you.’

Well, gradually my performances tailed off and I was out of the first team.You could say that I was being rested and I probably said that to myself but my form had dropped away significantly. Anyway it was the end of the season barring The FA Youth Cup Final. It was a two-legged affair against Manchester United. There was a lot of bad blood between the two clubs at that time. Eric Cantona had made the switch from Leeds United over to Manchester earlier in the season and he was ripping the Premier League apart. In that Manchester United youth team were the likes of  David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Keith Gillespie, Robbie Savage and Chris Casper. They were a cracking team and were strong favourites to beat us having won the same trophy the year before. The first leg at old Trafford went to us 2-0. A goal  each from myself and Noel Whelan. There was roughly 30,000 on the night even though Old Trafford was being renovated.

So back to Elland Road for the second leg. It was live on Sky Sports too. Interest was that high that the kick-off was put back about half an hour. I scored one of the best goals of my career that night. An overhead kick from about 12 yards. Even Leeds United fans still ask me about it today. We eventually won the tie 4-1 on aggregate.  By this time Kevin Sharp had made his senior league debut too. Three mates living together in the same digs had played first team football. Maybe we all got a bit above our station.

So the end of the summer brought the Under 18’s European Championships to England. Our squad was made up of the Leeds United youth team ,Manchester United youth team plus the likes of Sol Campbell, Darren Caskey, Julian Joachim, Robbie Fowler, and Kevin Gallon.

I started the first match against France. I was replaced by Robbie Fowler who came on, scored, and kept his place for the rest of the tournament. We won the tournament and I played a bit part really.

It turned out to be my last appearance for England at any level. I did not know it at the time. I just thought that I would make the natural progression to U21 level at least.

So back to pre-season training at Leeds United. Brian Deane had replaced Lee Chapman as the target man. Phil Massinga and Lucas Radebe had come all the way from South Africa. They were a couple of years older than myself, Noel Whelan, Kev Sharp, Mark  Tinkler and Gary Kelly but they did hang around with us. To be fair to them both they came with the very best intentions. They were both great lads but swore blind that they didn’t drink. We invited them out loads of times at the beginning with them turning us down on each occasion. Well, bordem must have been a factor because one night they gave us a ‘yes’. Well, they liked the taste of it that’s for sure and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Bacard & Coke was their favourite tipple. In the end they were out on it more than us!

 All of us young lads loved a night out . In fact ,we loved an ‘all dayer’  even more. There were many weeks if there was no scheduled reserve or first team game that we would find ourselves in a pub by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. We would always end up in a club called Mr Craigs. There was free entry if you played for Leeds United and we all felt like celebreties in there. Although I enjoyed a night out with my mates I don’t want to paint a picture of on obsessive drinker. I never went out two days before a game which was the ruling of the club at the time. Boredom then was sometimes difficult to surpress, particularly on a night time.  There were 4 of us in digs so what do you do?  We spent a lot of time in front of the TV and also with the Atari. For those that are too young to know what an Atari is: let’s just say that it was the closest thing to a PlayStation ! At the time this was cutting edge gaming. Sonic the Hedgehog was a big part of my life at that stage. But I had passed my driving test, had a car so what would you do if you were bored??

Egging. Yes, egging. This consisted of driving to a petrol station to buy all of the eggs they had available. We then patrolled the streets of Leeds looking for our victims who we could throw our eggs at from the car window. There was a technique to it. Obviously we didn’t want our victims knowing it was us so we would choose people who were walking in the opposite direction that we were travelling. Initially we didn’t want to be in an area where there were too many traffic lights just in case we were spotted although as we became more experienced this gave us more of a buzz. It might not seem that funny reading this but can you imagine splattering some unsuspecting person with an egg and seeing their facial anger that they didn’t know where it came from? We tended to use the Headingly area of Leeds as our preferred target zone. There was always plenty of people stood outside plenty of pubs so we didn’t have to be that accurate. Just lob one in that  direction as we drove past and see what happened. So if you ever got egged in Headingly between 1993/95 there was a good chance that it was either me, Kevin Sharp, Mark Tinkler or Gary Kelly !!

We even carried it over to Tuesday afternoons on home match days. After lunch the first team squad were assigned to the Hilton Hotel in town to prepare properly for the evenings match. I knew if I was playing or not ,most times not, so I found this time to be particularly boring. We always seemed to be on one of the highest floors with plenty of people walking past minding their own business.

We actually got busted. Somebody must have spotted us and we were dragged into the managers office to explain. We denied the whole thing. Luckily for us Gary Kelly was part of our Tuesday afternoon operations squad. He was a regular in the first team and a real prize asset to the club so they would have had to discipline him if they were to discipline all of us and they didn’t want to upset him too much.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

 

My time at..Leeds United.Part 3 A Yorkshire derby and stitches.

October 19, 2010 1 comment

 

Obviously now I realise that making your debut was the ‘easy’ bit. Staying there is the difficult part. One thing that has stuck in my mind from my debut game against Notts Forest was the following day. The players who had played were given the day off. I was in training with the ‘fringe’ players, the ones who perhaps were selected to be a part of the squad but didn’t make it in to the 13 players selected for that match.We were just warming up with a simple little passing drill. I remember thinking ‘well Jamie, you are now a Premier League player so you obviously know how to pass a ball 10 yards’. Hence my attitude was not what it should have been. I have learned since that when a young lad works his way up to first team level managers and coaches look out for signs of this nature. They want to see the player wanting to improve and push on. Although my new-found attitude probably wasn’t so apparent  to others it was something that may have cost me more matches at the highest level. To be honest though my good form in the youth team and reserves was not affected in a negative way and I didn’t have too long to wait until my full debut in the Premier League. I came in one Tuesday morning for a normal days training maybe hoping to be in the travelling squad for first team game at Sheffield United. Anyway I soon found out that I was in the starting line-up that night against the Blades at Bramwall Lane. Talk about straight in at the deep end. Relegation fight and a Yorkshire derby all at the same time. Mark Tinkler also got the nod for his full debut so we were in the same boat together which helped. I quickly rang my Dad from the payphone in the dressing room area. Yes, I said payphone. We were still in the ‘ not every body has a mobile’ days. Some of the ‘big hitters’ had them and they were the size of a shoe box in those days but sure enough both my Mum and Dad made it across to Sheffield for the match that night. In the hotel that afternoon during lunch the topic of discussion between the other players was about when they made their debuts. I was sat next to Gordon Strachan who spoke of when he made his debut. I can’t remember the exact date but it seemed like a million years ago to me. When you are 18 years old a 37-year-old can seem like a really old man, even the legendary Gordon Strachan. When I was a senior pro and the boot was on the other foot I was so mindful when speaking about my younger days to players that I didn’t want to come across as an old fart.

Lee Chapman was dropped for that match as I recall. Frank Strandly was prefered to Chapman while Rod Wallace was left out to allow me to play up front. Although this was a really big match I think that Howard Wilkinson had become fed up with a lot of performances of some of the older pro’s. We lost the match 2-1. I didn’t really affect the game much although the atmosphere was something I will never forget. This left us in real danger of relegation with a very difficult home match on the Saturday against Blackburn Rovers who were beating everyone at that time. Strandly had scored against Sheffield United so I didn’t expect to keep my place. Surprisingly he was left out for Lee Chapman to return and Rod Wallace was put right midfield with Gordon Strachan playing left midfield. Somehow I had kept my place. Development at that time was taking place at Elland Road but the attendance was still nearly 40,000. It really was a must win game. Colin Hendry was up against me that day. I remember that it was Colin Hendry because he elbowed me in the head after about 15 minutes of the match causing me to leave the pitch to receive stitches in a head wound. He didn’t want some young kid scampering round him all afternoon so he tried to take me out. It was touch and go whether I would return or not. The doctor seemed to be taking ages putting the stitches in and Howard Wilkinson was close to making a sub. Luckily I was bandaged up in time and as I ran back on the pitch from the tunnel I remember receiving a loud roar of applause. Fans do love it when a player comes on all bandaged up. It looks like he really wants it. To be honest I did want it. This was my big opportunity and I wasn’t going to let a few stitches get in the way. From that moment the Leeds United fans took to me. We ended up winning quite convincingly 5-2 with the master Gordon Strachan scoring a hat-trick. Although I didn’t get on the score sheet I had a good game. I was subbed with a couple of minutes to go to a standing ovation. After the game in the dressing room Howard Wilkinson made a point of mentioning that I was now ‘ready’. I was buzzing.

That night I was out in town. You don’t think I was going to sit in all night and pat myself on the back do you? Not a chance. I ended up getting patted on the back by what seemed to be half of Leeds. I also had the war wounds (about 6 stitches) which made me look like a real warrior.

Are you Jamie Forrester?

Are you Jamie Forrester?

 Are you Jamie Forrester?

I got it all night and loved every minute of it. What a life I thought, I’ve made it. I was even asked to sign a pair of knickers from some young lady. That didn’t seem to happen when I played for the youth team!

Now I do realise that this was a special time in my life. But when I look back I really do wish that I could have kept my feet a little closer to the ground.

So there followed a period of a few weeks when I played continuously in the first team. I was being recognised in Leeds all the time. People were telling me how good I was and how good I could become. My dad was the proudest man in the world. He couldn’t  hide it though. I was living his dream too. He loved the game and wanted it so bad for me. He did get a bit carried away at times filling my head with things that didn’t need to be in there and I was still only 18. I tended to listen to everything he had to say. In all honesty I would never have made it as a professional if it wasn’t for him. He was at every match when I was a kid, rain or shine. And then there was the endless hours of playing in the park. All he used to do was cross balls in to me to finish into an open net. His service was spot on every time. In the end I had to admit that I didn’t quite have enough to be a top player. That admission didn’t come until quite a few years later though.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

 

My time at…Leeds United. Part 2. Suspended..and 1st team debut.

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

 

Paul Hart was my Youth Team coach. What a brilliant coach he was, still is. Apart from my parents I would say that he has been one of the biggest influences on my career. My time in France had made me question if I wanted to be a footballer and he really got a hold of me and sorted me out. For a while anyway. He had previously done a similar job at Notts Forrest with success and it was to my fortune that he was at Leeds Utd. He was not the sort of man who you wanted to get on the wrong side of. That happened to me once though. There was a bit of a contractual wrangle which got a bit out of hand. My contract stated that I was to pay £70 per week landlady. It was after about 6 months that the club discovered that they were paying it for me. I knew it at the time but obviously didn’t tell them. I was called in by Paul Hart. He suggested that the money I owed should be paid back although they would allow me to pay in over the remainder of the contract. It was a good whack as I was not on a large amount as a young pro at Leeds. How times have changed. I really didn’t want to take a hit like that so I said ‘No’. I don’t think Paul Hart expected to hear me disagree with him but I figured that it was their mistake and I wasn’t going to pay it. There was a bit of a stand-off for a few minutes along with some threats and eventually he told me to f*** o** out of his office and that I was suspended. I didn’t bother arguing. When Paul Hart said something he always looked as though he meant it. So as I walked out of his office to my car it felt like an eternity. All I could think about was how I’ve just kissed goodbye to any chance of becoming a footballer. What was I doing?

Anyway, before I reached my car I was recalled into his office and told to ‘sit there’ while he tried to sort it out with the club secretary. He came back, angrier than ever, and told me to f*** o** once again but this time until the following day but from then I had to pay the £70 myself. I couldn’t argue.

I was pretty pleased with myself that I stood up to him that day. Not that I ‘won’ or anything like that. Whether I was in the right or not wasn’t really the point. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and not be bullied, especially when you are a young lad finding your way in the world. I had total respect for Paul Hart all the way through my time at Leeds and didn’t want to fall out with him again

From when I signed the goals were flowing very regularly. We played in the Intermediate u19’s league against other youth teams from the region. Confidence was high and we managed to begin a bit of a cup run in The FA Youth Cup. At the same time the first team were having a shocking season. It got to March or April  time and they hadn’t managed to win away from home. The reigning league champions. Relegation was being spoken about and things were not how they were supposed to. Some big names had come in with big transfer fees on big money. Steve Hodge, David Rocastle, Scott Sellers. And they didn’t manage to hold down a place in the team. I had played a few reserve team matches. I was scoring most weeks for the u19’s that they wanted to have a look at me. My first reserve game was away at Barnsley where they stuck me left-midfield. I was disgusting. Didn’t have a clue how to play left midfield. There were that many players it was the only way I could get a game. Mick Hennigan, Reserve Manager and First Team coach commented on how I wasn’t ready to play ‘messters’ football. He was an ‘old school’ South Yorkshireman. Not the greatest coach in the world but loved football to it’s core. Anyway, the goals didn’t dry up and the First Team kept on losing so I eventually found myself making my debut. I was on the bench in the days when only 2 subs were selected. It was at Notts Forrest and was live on Sky Sports. Myself and Mark Tinkler were the 2 selected subs. I ended up getting about 6 minutes. Jelly legs or what. While I was on the pitch I could see Brian Clough wearing his famous green jumper. So surreal. I only touched the ball a couple of times and gave it away every time because I was so nervous. So there it was. I was now a Premier League player. Unfortunately, for me this was the start of what I now look back on as me turning into bit of a Big Time Charlie for a little while and must confess to being a little too big for my boots. Just imagine it. I had just fulfilled a childhood dream. Stupidly, niavly, though my young 18 year old mind took this as having ‘made it’. To this day I look back and hate myself for the attitude that developed.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

 

 

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