Part 2 on how to become a Professional Footballer - Kettering to Newcastle United

Click Here to read part 1 - From Ashill to Arsenal, How to become a Professional Footballer

I spent just a few weeks living in Norwich before making the next leap up in my Football Career. The reason I moved to Norwich was so that I could get an extra few hours sleep in the mornings as I was traveling so much from Norwich to Kettering and back 3 times a week. Saturdays were a very early start for me as we frequented teams like Barrow and Gateshead, which to me seemed like the other side of the world.

I remember traveling to Gateshead by train which was a novel experience at the time. Sitting with all the card playing old pros who would gamble their footy wages for the day on a turn of a card. I used to spend most of my time sleeping on the coach rides, probably due to the amount of driving I was doing. Some players would play cards, a few would read and the rest of us find anyway to fill the time before arrival at the ground. Nowadays players team coaches are like a technology show with the latest gadgets on show from Cell phones, laptops, portable DVD players and other technological wonders. In the latter years of my career I used to spend a lot of time messing around with laptops and phones. Of course we used to have our fair share of “lads mags” including such titles as Loaded, FHM, GQ, with the occasional porn periodical appearing on the bus.

Managers would always get mad at the players and their Mobile Phones. I have been in many team meetings where players phones would go off, driving the boss crazy. Most of the managers I played for introduced fines for being late or mobile phones not being switched off. It would get really bad when you were sat in the dressing room after a defeat and the boss is fuming because of a lackluster performance. Then you would hear the muffled sound of a mobile phone from one of the kit bags. Anxious faces would appear on the players, hoping it wasn’t their phone so that they would not be on the receiving end of the managers red faced wrath.

I enjoyed a very fleeting period with Kettering Town, playing for less than half a season. We had a terrific start and were top of the league for the whole of my time with Kettering. We traveled to Gateshead and won, Barrow and won and the highlight was a 1-0 win at Barnet to fend off the tough North London team. Yours Truly notched the winner, beating the off-side trap and rounding the keeper from a long way out. Then calmly sliding the ball into the net. These were great moments in a strikers career and the joy of scoring in front of several thousand people in a pressure situation is almost tangible.

I was starting to see my name on Grandstand and other T/V shows as the Conference results were read out after the matches. It was all a bit strange to see my team on the T/V and to see my name in the National Newspapers on a Sunday. Rumors were starting to fly around about our players being picked up by professional teams. I didn’t even consider that I might be one of the players being watched even though I was having a fantastic season as was the team. The dressing room was an exciting time during this period with all the players guessing who was being watched followed by a routine pre-match announcement by the older pros that Everton or Newcastle scouts were sitting in the stands watching todays game. This passed over my head, as I still didn’t get it that I was one of the players in the frame for a transfer.

I nearly screwed up my chance of making the professional level. I was going to be watched by Newcastle United at our away game against Slough. I had stayed in Chadwell Heath, at my Grans house the night before and had also been having interviews in London for a better job. I was still unconvinced by the thought of being a footballer. Not being worldy wise to the traffic volume in the capital, I set off from East London to Slough on the West side. 4pm would be enough time to drive through the capital and reach the game for its 8pm kick off. Kettering were very anxious for me to be there as they knew Jim Smith was going to be at the game to watch me, and the transfer was almost done. It was 7pm and I was still nowhere near the stadium. I eventually pulled up 10 minutes before kick off. One of the Kettering staff took my car and rushed me into the dressing room, where I grabbed my kit and hastily rushed onto the field. A quick warm up and we were set to go in front of several thousand people and a Newcastle Manager. I had a great game and didn’t seem to suffer from the effects of the drive.

The following week Peter Morris called me to say that Newcastle United had bid £150,000 for me and Kettering had accepted it!!! I was still getting comfortable in the Vauxhall Conference and now another huge jump. Newcastle were in Division 1 and were outside of the play-offs. But I didn’t really follow football very closely outside of the teams I played with. I had no idea of the history of a club like Newcastle United and what a big change this was going to be.

Newcastle asked me to come to the North East to meet with them. So I set off in my Austin Maestro (which was quickly traded for a Golf convertible once I signed) for the monster journey to Newcastle. Talk about an adventure!! This was the other end of the country where a Norfolk boy was a long way from his roots and to me it felt like moving countries. The locals (Geordies) even spoke a different language.

I was made very welcome and was shown the Ground, which even then was very impressive. I last played in St James Park in 2000 and it was an amazing place. 55,000 people although the atmosphere then was a bit flat as Charlton beat them 1-0.

The meeting was with the Manager Jim Smith and the Chairman. They offered me £400/week, which I was already earning with my job at Norwich Union and my wages from Kettering. Although it was a bit intimidating I never really felt overawed by the situation and didn’t really grasp the seriousness or opportunity that was in front of me. I told the Chairman that I wanted £600/week, which should go up every year. I sat there and waited for his reply. He left the room, presumably to talk to Jim Smith about it. Then after a short period of waiting, returned to tell me that they agreed. Deal done they thought.

Not for me though. I had to go home and think about it for the weekend. I told Jim Smith that I was going home and would let him know over the weekend.

His face was a picture. “Going home,” he said. “I would have walked to Newcastle if they wanted to sign me”.

“Yes, but I need to think about it and talk to some family and friends before deciding” I told him.

I don’t think he was very impressed but that was how I left it and returned to Norfolk. Kettering called me and asked why I hadn’t signed, and I told them that I was going to think about it over the weekend. So they selected me for the team to play in their next match.

Saturday I got on the team coach and the older pros were all asking me about my trip to Newcastle, so I told them what had happened. They were full of advice and started to fill my head with ideas. One asked me how much Kettering had paid for me from Kings Lynn. “Nothing” I said.

“Exactly. And now they want to sell you for £150,000. You should get some of this”.

“Really”, I said.


“And another thing. Why are you playing this weekend? If you get injured the whole deal is off”

“oh”, I replied.

Kettering didn’t play me that weekend. I got home and on Sunday received a call from the manager asking me what I was going to do.

“I don’t know,” I told him. And then proceeded to ask for some money from the transfer. He told me no, they wouldn’t give me anything. That’s it then. I’m not signing I thought.

10 minutes later and Jim Smith called me. “Have you decided yet”?

I must have sounded like a real idiot. I still did not know what to do. I was going to be moving a long way from home leaving family and friends. I wasn’t convinced that I should agree to the move. I still hadn’t got into my head that I could be a professional footballer.

“eeeeeerrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm” was my reply I think.

Jim Smith continued chatting and eventually I just gave in and agreed. I don’t know why I wasn’t more enthusiastic about the whole deal but that’s what happened.

He gave me my instructions and I was set for the North East.

Part 3 from “Newcastle and beyond” coming soon

Part 1 - How to Become a Professional Footballer - From Ashill to Arsenal

Iraqi Soldiers Report

I havnt' blogged for a while so today I am going to catch up with the latest report from Iraq plus part 2 of my rise to the premier league.

All the text below is written by a US soldier serving out in Iraq.

"...This week Bush said "evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

OK folks was he talking about those elusive Iraqi terrorists or Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby or maybe all of his administration. Evil is also such a strong word that a world leader should avoid using lest history judge in someone elses favor. The "Axis of Evil" by the way, two of the three countries were our allies at one time. Does that mean we have had Evil allies? Many of the artillery rounds used for IEDs are American 155mm rounds we sold to Sadaam Hussein. So in the end around the Reagan administration's actions in the eighties are killing American soldiers today.

I just wish he would stop using soldiers as political leverage stating that changing plans would be letting us down. Everyday he is letting us down. Politically he wants to draw down troop strength but we do not have enough soldiers to do the job correctly now. We get blown up by IEDs because there are not enough of us to cover the ground we are asked to cover. The left wants troops brought home so they can say the right was wrong(trust me I would like to go home) but if no one replaces those troops the ones remaining here are at greater risk of injury. The right wants to stay the course and also lower troop strength because they want to be re-elected.

Problem is commanders on the ground are saying we need more troops to do the job. Sound like any other war we have been in. Oh that's right we are not allowed to compare to "that" war, its unpatriotic. How about a frightening little statistic for those who hate to compare. ~500,000 troops in Vietnam at its height and 50,000 KIA over 10-15 years. That is 10%. We have been at ~100,000 troops in Iraq over the past 3 years and lets say we maintain that for 10-15 years. 2000 KIA in 3 years x 5 to reach 15 years and you have 10,000 KIA. That is 10%.

Someone needs to have the guts to speak the truth, whether it is the President, Congess, or the press. Are we here to force democracy down the throats of Iraqis or are we here to gain a foothold in the center of the arab oil fields, so we can continue to watch NASCAR and drive 6mpg SUVs? Are we here fighting a war or are we building a democracy? Soldiers cannot do both at the same time. We cannot succeed by destroying a mosque with insurgents firing from it one day and the next we build a clinic. Destroying the country at the same time we are rebuilding it only makes the US military seem foolish.

The press and the government state that Anbar province is really the only trouble spot. Americans need to look at a map of Iraq. Anbar takes up ~1/3 of the land mass of Iraq. Restated, only 1/3 of the country is completely lawless, the rest just can't stop suicide bombers and the murder of Iraqi lawyers, government officials, and soldiers on leave (Iraqi soldiers on leave cannot take their weapons with them because many never return to duty, so they go home unarmed, easy targets for insurgents). Back to the top of the page, there was a time in this country that giving up the name of an American spy was a crime called treason. Not a social slap on the wrist indictment with the probable promise of KBR or like board positions. I bet Libby would spill the truth if faced with the maximum penalty for treason(execution) and the offer of plea bargain. I obviously have had way too much time to read the news this week."

Jungle Dome Web Project - Part 5

We are getting very close to the release of our new website, which although it currently exists it is being revamped with a more stylish design fitting with the Mayan Heritage of Belize. Richie Simpson our Web Designer has been working on converting some of our Belize Images for use on our new site.

I have uploaded some of the banner designs he has used that will appear through the site. As explained in previous posts about the Jungle Dome web project we are using the Mayan Symbols as part of our Navigation scheme for the website.

The template is very nearly completed and we should start bringing over the page content in the next few days. Although Richie has decided to use this weekend to better use, checking out the Belize Tour Guide Olympics at Barton Creek Caves this Sunday.

As for me I am on a golf marathon with one of our guests and will be back on the Roaring River 9 hole course this weekend.

Part 1 of the Jungle Dome Web Project
Part 2 of the Jungle Dome Web Project
Part 3 of the Jungle Dome Web Project
Part 4 of the Jungle Dome Web Project

How to Become a Professional Footballer - From Ashill to Arsenal

By day he was a number crunching Executive Pensions Administrator. But at the weekend he turned into a fierce center forward with a left foot that could knock the head off a pin from 50 yards. I thought that would be a great superhero introduction to my new articles, which I have named from “Ashill to Arsenal”.

Ashill because that is where I grew up in Norfolk and Arsenal because it has a good ring to it. And if you need a connection, Arsenal was one of the last teams I ever played against before quitting my career as a professional footballer.

I started playing football for Ashill my local village team when I was just 12 years old. I soon outgrew the team scoring too many goals and although I enjoyed playing football with my friends it just wasn’t challenging enough. So I moved to Kings Lynn Football Club who played in the Beazer Homes Midland Division. It wasn’t a very dramatic move for me as I languished in the reserves for a season, not really making much of an impression.

I had just completed my Btec National Diploma in Leisure and Tourism studies at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in Kings Lynn and was ready for a job in the real world. I couldn’t find the job I wanted and so I opted for the safe option that a lot of people take in Norfolk, working for the mighty Norwich Union. I became a Pensions Administrator, which involved pushing large volumes of paperwork around. I didn’t enjoy the work much but soon realized I had a love of computers, hence all my blogs (Escribbler and Belize Jungle Dome Blog) and websites ( and that now exist.

I was quickly promoted into the IT department where I fixed other peoples computer problems from inside of the Norwich Union Company. I enjoyed doing this but was still pursuing my football career. Which brings me back to Kings Lynn Football Club. The start of the new season at Kings Lynn heralded my head-spinning rise to the glory of Professional Football that followed in a short period of just 8 months. I played a few pre-season friendlies and was doing very well in the games, scoring goals and causing all kinds of mayhem on East Anglian defences.

I was also driving a ridiculous amount of miles in my Austin Maestro, leaving Ashill in the early morning to head East to Norwich for work. As we were on flexi time I would leave early on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I could train with Kings Lynn. This meant a 25 mile drive east, followed by a 50 mile drive west to Kings Lynn, almost passing my house in Ashill on the way. A 2-hour training session and then a 25 mile drive east again to return home late in the evening. This was quite exhausting but I loved playing football and was happy enough to do the driving. Dad would often keep me company for which I am grateful. And he still goes to “The Walks” to follow the progress of Kings Lynn.

At this time I was not even thinking of a career as a football player. I never considered myself good enough although my performances were starting to get noticed by some bigger teams including Kettering Town in the Vauxhall Conference, or what is now known as the Nationwide Conference. I was also starting to experience the rather large egos that haunt the inside of dressing rooms up and down the country. Ex pros who seemed bitter at their rejections by Professional teams and who seemed to think they were still the best players in the world. I used to steer a very wide path around these guys, feeling uncomfortable in their company.

I was also approached by Norwich City who had watched me in a game for my local village team Ashill who I still enjoyed playing for occasionally. They invited me to Trowse training ground to take part in training sessions. I loved this but this was really stretching my time thin on the ground. Added to the training and games at Kings Lynn, plus working for Norwich Union, I was now trying to find time to train with Norwich City. Looking back I think if I had pursued this harder I could have got a contract with them. But I wasn’t 100% committed and I think they were a bit hesitant also.

None of this halted my progress as I continued to score goals and Kettering Town invited me for a training session. I didn’t even know where Kettering was but set off in the evening. I remember pulling up outside the stadium and being a bit overawed by the site of a large stand. I think the stadium held 4,000 + people but it was very professional and organized. I nervously walked into the dressing room. Of course no one even batted an eyelid and if I thought that the Kings Lynn dressing room was full of bruised egos, this place was 10X worse. Most of these players had all failed to make the professional game or were on the downward slope of their careers. But I did make some really good friends in my time at Kettering. And I did sign for them and had a terrific few months with the team as we topped the conference, piping even the infamous non-league outfit of Barnet and the animated character of Barry Fry.

Peter Morris the manager of Kettering called me the next day at my office at Norwich Union. He asked me if I wanted to sign for them and how much money do I want!!! Well that wasn’t an easy question to answer. But I have never had a problem asking for things but this was a little different. I had no frame of reference for this. Kings Lynn were feeding me tidbits of cash to pay for my travel expenses and I had no idea what to ask for. I wanted to go and play for the team but didn’t want to scare the manager by asking for too much. I mumbled £100 over the phone to which he replied ok and proceeded to give me the details of the next game and where/when I should turn up.


I under priced myself I thought. In hindsight I should have asked for more because this money only just covered my travel expenses. I was now having to drive 25 miles east in the morning for work, leave at 3.30 pm on a Tuesday and Thursday for training, followed by a 2 ½ drive to Kettering for a training session. Then after training a further 2 hour drive home. I used to get back to the house at midnight and would have to sit and watch TV for an hour because I was so wired from the driving. I was doing too much I thought.

So I made the decision to move to Norwich to cut down my traveling time. And that is where I wind up Part 1 of "from Ashill to Arsenal".

Part 2 coming soon


What an accolade. I made the Guardian Newspapers feature on RETIRED FOOTBALLERS' STRANGEST JOBS

It seems I have one of the wierdest post Football careers. Other players include :

  • Germany's world and European champion Thomas Hässler : started a record company in 1996. Here's his website :
  • Danish international Ivan Nielsen : Plumber
  • John Connelly, formerly of Manchester United, Burnley and England : Fish and Chip Shop
  • Leeds United and Doncaster Rovers midfielder John Stiles : Comedian
  • Leeds and Scotland goalkeeper David Harvey : Farmer
  • And of course yours truly

Although if anyone reads this from the Guardian Newspaper please change the blog link to this blog, not my Belize Jungle Dome Blog.

The article I recently wrote on my retirement from Football has provoked an unusual amount of interest. I even had Sky Sports Email me today asking me to do an interview. I replied telling them of course I will. When are you coming to Belize? Guy Havord (reporter) declined the offer telling me he was a coward and wanted nothing to do with the Jungle and that he doubted Sky Sports would stump up the cash for a visit. What a bunch of Cheapskates. Get yourself down here. I will give you a Suite and a 10% discount!!! I will even take you to some Central American games.

I would love to see the faces of the local people living around me in the Jungle, if I was interviewed and shown on Fox Sports.

I remember approaching the Sky Sports boss many years ago about developing a website. I always believed that the Internet would be a huge hit from the very early years. I didn't get much of an answer then, although I do see that they have a good site now. Its strange how big businesses were slow to see the benefit of the internet in the early years. I guess innovation is difficult for large corporations to cope with. Although now News Corporation the owners of BSkyB are diving into the web in big style buying up other sites such as Property finder

A good friend of mine works in the record business and lamented on the rise of Napster and other file sharing sites where people can download free songs. Of course everyone wants to see Artists receive their share of profits from record sales but I think the point of this was that larger Record Labels just got lazy and didn't do their research properly. You gotta give the customer the best experience you can and surfing for music is the ideal way to purchase it. Loads of time to enjoy snippets of music without fighting for headphones in shop stores. And the success of Napster and itunes has proved that people will pay for this privilege.

Speaking of itunes my son must be the youngest user of the ipod. At just 3 years old "Dora the Explorer" has become a real hit with Lucas.

Read the Full Articles RETIRED FOOTBALLERS' STRANGEST JOBS from the Guardian :

Part 1 and Part 2

Winds of change in the Premier League maybe aren't as strong as I thought

I wrote an article on October 29th about the Winds of change in the premier league. At the time Manchester United had just lost 4-1 to Middlesbrough.

But just 10 days later the league is starting to take its usual format, with the big guns starting to loom on Wigan and Boltons shoulders. Although Chelsea still have a comfortable advantage I was probably a bit hasty in writing off Man Utd. It must be weird for Arsenal and Man Utd to be in the position they are after so many years of domination. I'm sure Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson will be stunned with the catching up they need to do. They used to be fighting each other with their infamous physcological warfare. And now they are having to chase Mourinho, the new kid on the block and that must be hurting their pride.

I wonder why Arsenal sold Viera? Surely they must be regretting that decision. When I played against him I thought he was a fantastic player. So strong and very competent with the ball. He rarely mis-placed a pass and constantly broke the oppositions play up.

Coming Soon - How to become a professional footballer

I am starting work on a few articles about my rise through the ranks of the amateur leagues in Football from my humble beginnings working at Norwich Union to playing for Ashill, my local Village team, signing for Kings Lynn FC, my short period in the Vauxhall Conference with Semi Pro team Kettering Town FC, to my eventual signing for Newcastle United FC. Then on to Wembley Stadium with West Bromwich Albion before reaching the peak of my career at Charlton Athletic

It should be real Roy of the Rovers stuff and I am looking forward to digging up long lost memories of my experiences with Jim Smith, Ossie Ardiles, Kevin Keegan, playing at Wembley in the Play Off finals and other stories on the path to becoming a Professional Footballer

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You gotta be crazy...

Iraqi frontline update

For those of you who don't know about these Iraqi updates, I have a friend whose brother is serving in the US army in Iraq. He sends these reports back from the frontline about what it's like to be out there. As I have stated before I object totally to the invasion of Iraq but do not print these articles to prove a point either way. I add these articles to my blog so that people can get an real life view of what life in Iraq is like for a soldier, without the media editing and bias that inevitably comes with all reporting. Needless to say this article inidicates what an impossible position all the troops out in Iraq face.

Read on.....

"....Sometimes it is tough to figure out what to say every week here. The problem is that sometimes nothing happens here then other times I do not even have time to sit down at my desk. This week has been a mix of that. For any of you at home you already know another soldier was killed this week. He was responding to secure the helicopter crash site (in the news) early in the week when his vehicle hit an IED. He was killed instantly and the other soldiers in his crew were hardly even shaken up. Mentally that has been tough for them, he was their leader.

Most Iraqi people do not want the insurgency around, but those same people do not want us around. Iraqis rarely get blown up by IEDs. They know where the bombs are and the trigger men do not target Iraqis. Many in the US think IEDs are like mines, we roll over them and they blow up. Most of them are triggered by someone using a phone, a garage door opener, doorbells, or hand held radios (motorolas).

Local Iraqis, including the Sheiks who get contracts to build things (paid in US dollars), know where the bombs are but do not tell us that info. They say they will be killed if they talk but really they just don't care if we get blown up. One sign on patrol that tells us we are about to be attacked is that the streets will empty and shops will be closed. The people know we are being targeted but don't feel they need to tell us by who or what. Soldiers are then supposed to remain professional when they ask the shopkeeper about the attack. He says "no ali baba, no muj, I know nothing" but he closed his store, he knew something.

If the Iraqi people do not care about the soldiers why should the soldiers care? That is where this war is heading for the US and I do not want to see US soldiers end up there. The leaders try to keep things professional and so far they are succeeding in our unit. Soldiers who break the rules are quickly punished or in some cases arrested but soldiers become bitter when their friend is dead and the shopkeeper whose shop is right next to the crater says he knows nothing.

The politics at home bother me, the media and their version of truth bothers me, but what bothers me most is watching men lose some of their humanity for a cause that even George Bush does not truly want to commit to...."

Feeding Crocodiles on Ambergris Caye, Belize

Belize Adventure, Adventure, Adventure

What to do and see in Belize. We have just been to Ambergris Caye, Belize for a few days break. This is one of the Tropical Islands off the mainland of Belize. And one of the nightime activities is to feed the Crocodiles in the Lagoon side of the Island. And here is a picture of one of the locals providing some tucker for a hungry croc, something that even Steve Irwin the Crocodile hunter would be proud of.

And while I was chatting to one of the locals from Ambergris Caye, they told me the story of one guy who was hand feeding a smaller croc and lost his finger!!! We certainly don't subject our guests to any risks like this, but the local people just do it for fun.

This reminds me of the time at the Belize Jungle Dome when we had just finished the swimming pool. The kids who live on the other side of the soccer field were dragging a 14' Crocodile along the outside of our fence. They had ropes aroud each leg and its snout with 2 kids on each rope. The boys were between 5 and 13 years of age and all came from the same family. When I stopped them to ask what they were doing they told me they were going to put it in our Swimming Pool.

Jungle Dome Web Project - Part 4

We are getting closer to the final template design for the Jungle Dome. This page shows our "monkey eyes" banner across the top. Each page will have a different 600 X 100 banner running across the top of the page. we have some stunning pictures from Belize and with some editing can create these banners.

Click here to view our Belize Banner Slideshows

The Mayan Symbols will run horizontally across the top of the page, giving the site an ancient appeal. We are trying to find correct Mayan symbols that represent the pages they are hyperlinked to. Under the Images will be the text links. These text links are carefully selected to represent common search terms for Belize Vacations/Holidays.

The main content of the page is going to be edited down from our other site so that viewers will not have to scroll down the pages to see everything.

There will be one smaller image on each page running a javascript slideshow of 15/20 images relevant to each particular page, so that while you are reading the information viewers can see the images as well.

Still to be added is the Belize Jungle Dome Blog Headline Animator that looks like this ::

Belize Jungle Dome Blog

The text titles of each page will also reflect the common search terms used for people looking for an adventure holiday in belize.

Hopefully by the end of this week this template will be completed and we can start adding all the content.

Part 1 of the Jungle Dome Web Project
Part 2 of the Jungle Dome Web Project
Part 3 of the Jungle Dome Web Project

Richie has also completed the Logo for the side of our vehicles.

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

When I was at Charlton Athletic in the 2000/2001 season I was struck down with a very mysterious illness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E or what was commonly named yuppie flu.

All my life I have been a very fit and sports crazy athlete enjoying all kinds of sport and recreations such as Football, Cricket, Squash, Scuba Diving, Running, Pool and loads more activities. Becoming a Professional Footballer was the perfect outlet for my endless bags of energy.

Then all of a sudden in 2000 after a home game against Tottenham I felt like I was carrying heavy weights around the pitch for the whole 90 minutes. Not knowing what was wrong I assumed that I had a flu coming on and so the following week I did very little in training hoping to recover for the next game. I never wanted to miss matches and as I had been Charlton’s top scorer and the Division 1 Top scorer in the previous season I was keen to play in the next game. My start to the premiership season had given me 4 goals in 8 games including 2 goals against the almost complete England back four that were playing for Arsenal.

Needless to say I was confident and looking forward to the season. I played the following week against Newcastle and we beat them 1-0 at St James Park but I was so fatigued, I slept the entire journey home. And spent almost the whole of the next week laid up in bed. I then played my final professional game against Coventry City at home scoring with my last touch of the ball before Curbs had me removed from play. I couldn't move on the pitch.

The club sent me for tests, which revealed nothing abnormal. I then went to see the leading UK expert on the subject who gave me a graded recovery program, which involved a slow but steady increase in activity. I almost reached the fitness level required to return to full time playing but relapsed one more time. This is when I made the extremely difficult decision to quit Football at the early age of 30 years old, at the peak of my career. With new contract talks just begun at Charlton and a year to go on my contract it was financially a bit of a disaster for me. I had also been approached by Austria about playing international football for them but had to turn it down. But I was so depressed with the whole situation and physically I was a wreak.

I remember having to pull over on the side of the road after one training session because my vision had become blurred and I couldn't see the road in front of me. Sat on the A2 between the Charlton training ground and my home in Greenwich I finally decided to quit and walk out on my contract.

I sat in the dressing room at the Training ground after my 1 lap of the football fields, on my own, looking out the window at the rest of the team going through their paces. I couldn't really believe that what I was about to do would end my football career. However for my own health I felt that I had to make this decision. It's never easy going to see the boss in any job and often when you are visiting the football team manager it is with a sense of trepidation. Normally you are summoned to the bosses office to be told you are dropped for the next game (although fortunately for me I was rarely dropped from the starting line up). But this time I was dropping Charlton and my career as a Professional Footballer.

I knocked on Curbs office and proceeded to tell him that I wanted to quit. I dreaded every day going to the training ground to pound out my 1 lap of the field only to go home and collapse in bed for the rest of the day. So that was it. At the peak of my career and about to realize my dreams as a football player I quit due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Charlton were very sympathetic to my situation and I'm sure they understood that I was happier quitting football rather than continuing what seemed to be a fruitless task of recovering from my illness. Professional Football is hard enough when you are fit and healthy so trying to play with CFS was impossible.

Still up until today I cannot put my finger on what causes this illness. 2 days ago I had a medical. My blood pressure is fine; my heart rate is great, oxygen levels great. Lungs fine. I even thought that I had Diabetes, as my father and his father both suffered with this illness. But my blood sugar levels have never showed this as the culprit. Even though many of the symptoms such as Dizziness, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue are all shared by Chronic Fatigue and Diabetes, I don't seem to have Blood Sugar level problems.

It is a very frustrating illness and one that has taken me several years to learn to live with. When I was a professional athlete I was used to pushing my body to its limit of physical endurance day after day in training. And I loved doing it. Now I cannot even come close to pushing myself to exhaustion because I would be laid up in bed for days even weeks. So I am very happy to have changed careers and to be living the Tropical Lifestyle, where I am able to spend a lot of quality time with my family and enjoy my work in Belize without having to suffer the consequences of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on a daily basis.

Go to the start of My Blog

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Resources

Action for M.E
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Happy Birthday to My son Lucas - 3 Today

Lucas is 3 today and we have taken him to Ambergris Caye the Tropical Islands of Belize, for his Birthday. We have taken his buddy Jimmy with us and are staying on the beach at Banana Beach Resort. Yesterday they spent the afternoon kicking around in the sand and climbing coconut trees. Last night we were whizzing around on Golf Buggies with Lucas driving.

Here we are about to take off from the Belize Municipal Airstrip on an Island Hopper.

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