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THE PLAYER LOWDOWN: Jay talks Sporting joy, injury woe + socially distant teaching

This feature sees us catch up with former Sporting goalkeeper Chris Jay. He talked about how this time with the Rouslers was a mixture of great memories and injury frustrations, plus how his job has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

With 60 appearances to his name, Chris Jay is second in the all-time list of goalkeepers at the club – prior to joining, it was actually a game against Sporting which led to him becoming the Rouslers’ number one.

“I was playing for Coleshill Town in a pre season friendly versus Bromsgrove. The following day, I was flying out to Thailand on holiday when Smudge (Paul Smith) got in touch with me about joining Bromsgrove.

“I spoke with Smudge at length and he shared his vision and aspirations for the season ahead. Following the conversation, I instantly knew the move would be a great one and I jumped at the chance of joining.

“When I joined the club, I wasn’t aware of how big the club was and how big the fan base was, home and away. My first game was away at Atherstone and the following from the supporters was first class – from that moment I knew it was a massive club and one I was proud to play for.”

However, his debut didn’t end up being a positive one, as he explained.

“Unfortunately, in my first game, I broke my thumb in the warm up, but continued to play the whole game. I found out after the game following an X-ray at Solihull Hospital and was out for 10 weeks.

“My time at Sporting was marred with a couple of serious injuries, the other being when I tore my groin against Racing Club Warwick.”

Despite this, Chris was able to look back fondly at the great times he had at Sporting.

“Throughout my time at the club, we had some unreal performances, home and away, which were great to be apart of. In my second season at Sporting, being named as vice captain was a fantastic feeling for myself and one I enjoyed massively, alongside the skipper Jonah (Craig Jones).

“Everybody at the club – the staff and the players were brilliant. There was a real togetherness in the dressing room, from the day I signed, and it was definitely up there with the best squads I’ve been apart of.

“Being a part of the squad that won the league and got to the semi final of the FA Vase was something I will never forget. I was absolutely gutted to have missed the remainder of the season through injury, missing out on some of those unforgettable matches at a packed Victoria Ground – it was hard to accept.

“Supporting from the sidelines was tough, but the occasion for the club was incredible. Every single player in the squad that season was first class and it was such a shame we couldn’t get to Wembley for the club and the fans.”

After leaving Sporting, he went on to be player/coach at Highgate United, with Paul Smith.

“I played two games during the season, but unfortunately my groin still wasn’t right. However, I continued coaching the keepers for the duration of the season.

“I made the difficult decision, due to work commitments, to step away from football this past season. I still continue to look out for the Bromsgrove scores and am still in contact with several players from my time at the club. It’s great to see the club doing so well and progressing to where it belongs.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me at the moment, but I would certainly like to get involved in coaching in the future – only time will tell.”

Outside of football, Chris talked about a special occasion and how his work in teaching has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I recently celebrated my first wedding anniversary on April 20th and I’m currently working as head of PE at a school, at home, due to the closures due to the pandemic. It has been hard adjusting to my new work settings!

“I am currently planning towards the schools reopening on June 1st, in accordance with government plans. I’m planning activities and lessons, ensuring the children are socially distant.

“I will ensure I come down and watch a game in the new season and see some of the familiar faces. I hope everyone at the club, the fans, the staff & all of the players are all safe and well during these tough times.”

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