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Journeymen and Rejects? How about seasoned professionals!

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Jack Ross | 20:44 UK time, Sunday, 15 May 2011

In the aftermath of Inverness Caley's win over Celtic recently I read a comment which described the victors as consisting of journeymen, rejects and kids.

Given the significance of the result and level of performance produced by Inverness that evening, was such a description slightly derogatory and a little underwhelming with respect to the abilities of the players in that side?

Of course, the less dramatic and more accurate way to describe Inverness may have been this: A team made up of seasoned professionals deemed good enough to be sought after by various managers and to have made hundreds of senior appearances, plus others with strong enough character and ability to bounce back from rejection at a club or clubs, supplemented by young players displaying talent which promises a bright future career.

Inverness players celebrate after scoring a goal against Celtic

Inverness recorded a 3-2 win over Celtic earlier this month. Photo: SNS.

I accept my offering certainly does not roll off the tongue but I would argue that it does offer a more respectful view upon individuals who deserve to be given credit for the careers they have shaped for themselves.

Another reason for contemplating this is that as the season ends and clubs announce which players they are not offering fresh contracts to, the football market will be awash with those who could be generalised by the three labels given to the successful Inverness XI.

The first group, the 'journeymen', is interesting. I have often found that this description is used in a far from complimentary manner with regards to a player. How often do pundits or fans refer to someone simply being a journeyman or expressing their displeasure at another journeyman signing?

In truth, the term should be used in a more positive way as it reflects someone who has served their apprenticeship and learned their trade and provides a manager with reliable and experienced performances. Of course, a football team cannot consist of 11 such players, just as it cannot be filled with defenders, but their presence is vital and should be considered invaluable.

What about the 'rejects'? No matter the circumstances, it never sounds like an appealing title to be given and yet in football terms huge number of players may wear such a hat.

Ultimately, there are different ways at looking at being labelled a reject. One is that a player believes he is not good enough, or the alternative is that he maintains faith in his own ability and acknowledges that his rejection is only down to the opinion of one man.

Those who fall into the latter category need to support such a belief with a drive, dedication and displays which make it impossible for them to fall out of the game and find themselves without a team.

There is no doubt that many journeymen and rejects will be seeking new clubs this summer and, at a time when the supply of available players is undoubtedly outstripping the demand from clubs, some will find new employment difficult to come by.

However, several will be given opportunities as managers and coaches understand the importance of the presence of players who have proven they can meet the demands of the game.

Furthermore, these same bosses are aware that there are many players desperate to prove the folly of rejection from a previous club.

On the subject of players moving on to new challenges I must mention my former team mate and skipper at St Mirren, John Potter.

As he looks ahead to a fresh chapter in his career he should be remembered with respect from everyone at the Paisley club as he undoubtedly had that from those who played alongside him.

Respect can be difficult to earn and maintain in football and it is not simply achieved by those fortunate enough to be the most talented. It is afforded to those who are consistently willing to put themselves in the firing line; those who don't go hiding when the pressure or criticism increases or who won't play through the pain barrier for the good of the club.

These qualities that John possesses mean he can be held as another positive ideal of the journeyman player and I am sure other managers will be keen to secure such a player.

If not, then I am slightly concerned he might pinch some of my broadcasting work as he has an ideal face for radio!

The best way to finish this week's blog: I'm Jack Ross, I was a reject and I was a journeyman and proud of it!


  • Comment number 1.

    I think one of the best books - albeit an old one - I have read about this subject is by the former Brighton, Charlton and Plymouth left winger Gary Nelson, 'Left Foot Forward: A Year in the Life of a Journeyman Footballer'. He describes the aspects of being a professional who did not reach the dizzy heights of some but would still be miles better than any punter in the stands or commentator making dismissive judgements on his ability from a studio.

    What I have never truly appreciated before is the dedication it takes, the spectre of career ending injury when you still have a mortgage to pay, playing in the reserves on a wet Tuesday night in front of 100 spectators.

    As for John Potter, I wish him all the best for next season and hope he finds himself a club soon.

  • Comment number 2.

    Given the significance of the result and level of performance produced by Inverness that evening, was such a description slightly derogatory and a little underwhelming with respect to the abilities of the players in that side?


    No. It's complimentary.

    The words cloggers and trogladyte spring, unbidden, to mind.

    Most are footballers, and I don't reserve this for ICT, because they are not bright enough to become plumbers, who, rightly, can earn far more.

    Ross Tokely; "a vital presence, considered invaluable". Aye, right.

  • Comment number 3.

    David Brewster, I will strive to read Gary Nelson's book over the summer-i am sure there is plaenty I can relate to within his story! Thanks for the recommendation.

    therrawbuzzin, your comment is boring, so stereotypical and in my opinion as a former player disrespectful-not really much I can add to that

  • Comment number 4.

    This week's blog is my final contribution so I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those who have taken the time to read and contribute comments to my blog over the past eighteen months.

    I have really enjoyed the opportunity to express my views on the game in Scotland and I hope I have provided a little insight to the game from a players's perspective.

    I trust you all enjoy your summer break from football and wish your respective teams the very best for a season ahead which will hopefully create headlines for all the right footballing reasons.

    Best Wishes
    Jack Ross

  • Comment number 5.

    Your blog has always been worth a read. Sorry to see it go .

  • Comment number 6.

    Jack Ross:

    No my comment is honest and a fair reflection of the greatest problem in our game; the quality of those taking part.

    I've heard your colleague, Murdo McLeod, refer to players being in Scotland "because nobody else wants them".

    I see crowds diminishing as standards plummet.
    I don't blame the players who make their living from the game; I hold the unambitious chairmen who employ them ultimately responsible for this, and indeed the general malaise in the game.

    You may find my comment boring, stereotypical and disrespectful, but, since as you point out, you are an ex-player yourself, of journeyman quality, I'd be most surprised if you didn't.

  • Comment number 7.

    I don't find journeymen or kids a derogatory description for a football palyer. How someone can described somebody who has made it as a proffessional football player albeit from one of Scotland's provincial clubs I do not know. We all know if Celtic turned up they would have won, but ICT did, unfortunately. This is just another example of people bashing the Scottish game and the players within it. Don't they know the constant belittling of the Scottish game and it's players can only have a negative effect and therfore a positive effect for the media providers when the SPL want to sell their rights. Stop bashing the Scottish game.

  • Comment number 8.

    Jack, sorry to see your blog go. All the best with your future media work and look forward to hearing about other writing that may interest younger football fans...

  • Comment number 9.

    @no6 therrawbuzzin

    It would be nice if every club had the money to buy and keep good talented players but unfortunately smaller clubs with limited budgets cannot afford long contracts. Therefore offer short contracts to players who are available for a small outlay and able to help achieve the clubs short term targets, usually to avoid relegation.
    Smaller clubs then can only afford those within reach meaning younger players and 'rejects' from larger clubs deemed not good enough for them. Should these clubs just not compete then and give up because they cannot afford good players?

    I think some credit should be given to the so called 'journeymen' since they are willing to perservere with their chosen career but never knowing what will happen once their contracts are up, now knowing if they have the security for them and their families.

    Also credit for the clubs in giving them and younger players the chance to prove themselves otherwise where would the bigger clubs be able to find some unearthed gems?


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