Colne FC

After his appointment as Colne boss last May, Nathan Rooney secured one of his key targets early on when the Reds signed recent Fleetwood Town youngster Jamie Cooke. Upon his arrival being announced, the former Carlisle United first-team coach shared his delight, adding: “No doubt Jamie will play at a higher level in time.”

Chairman Ryan Haigh would also speak of the versatile talent as the sort of addition the Lancashire club had been looking for ever since Alex Curran earned his move to Stockport County two summers ago. Indeed that kind of backing has stood him in particularly good stead, with the 19-year-old feeling suitably able to thrive this season.

It is Colne’s name that still sits top of the tree in the Northern Premier League North West Division, though the frustration of entering a fourth month without the season resuming continues to be felt by all at this ‘non-elite’ level of the game. Whether this year or next, though, the young Scouser feels total belief in their chances of earning promotion, and cannot wait for the opportunity to get right back at it. In the meantime, here is a one-on-one with the man himself…

 

You’ve done some impressive stuff in the time you’ve had this season, how on top of your game have you felt, and how at ease with your surroundings?

Yeah, I’ve felt really good. I’ve took the season and the new environment really well and I’ve enjoyed everything so far. I’ve come into a bit of a new position and kind of just felt really suited there. I’m enjoying it there because I’m being more involved in goals and just in creating things. I think that’s a big part of my game, creating chances and obviously scoring goals. With the team this season, I thought we started really, really well and maintained our performances. We’ve been going really strong.

On that point about your position, where have you mostly played growing up and throughout your football up to now?

I’ve been put a bit of everywhere really! When I first started playing football, I was a goalkeeper, and then started playing centre-back, and eventually moved into midfield. I’ve been playing midfield for most of what I can remember really, joining Fleetwood, and then in my scholarship years, I kind of moved back to centre-back because of the personnel at the club. We didn’t have many centre-backs because one of our lads James Hill was smashing it and was in the first team, so we needed that cover.

So any time your team hasn’t got a keeper on the bench, and the starter gets sent off or injured, you’re the man to step in?!

Exactly, I’m the man, I’ll happily take that job!

You were a very early signing for Nathan after he took the Colne job last year, how much of a previous connection was there between the two of you?

I knew Nathan really well through Fleetwood. He trusted me a lot as a player and thought a lot of me, and still does, which is great for me personally. When I was Under-15s / Under-16s at Fleetwood, Nathan was the Under-18s manager, and he trusted me a lot and used to bring me up for training and games, so I used to play up for my age. It was great of him that he had that trust in me and I do get on really well with him.

How have you personally coped with the circumstances of this season, with all the uncertainty from one week, or even one day, to the next?

Yeah, it’s been really tough, I think for everyone really, with the amount of uncertainty and nobody really knowing what’s going on and what’s going to happen. So it has been really tough, but I think what has really kept me going is actually that uncertainty, and keeping ready, keeping myself fit and motivated to be ready to go again. It can just come back whenever, you never really know what’s going to happen, so just keeping fit and keeping my mind occupied, and focused on that next time I’m back out on the field.

Having spent a good while at a professional club in Fleetwood, to then adjusting to not being in a full-time environment, what is the current set-up for you? Besides keeping going with training, are you studying, working?

What I’m doing at the moment is just training myself, doing my own running sessions, some football work to just keep my technical work going. Just getting to grips with myself, and learning about myself and my body, how I can cope with certain things, because I’m only 19 now. Kind of just pushing myself to some new limits, and that keeps you motivated with the change of training. I’m also doing a personal training course to get my PT licences. That’s not really to go into a job so much, it’s just to have that knowledge and to keep working on myself to be the best version I possibly can.

How old were you when you joined Fleetwood?

I was about 14/15. I’d never been at another academy before; I’d been trialling at places but Fleetwood took the leap and signed me. I signed there and it was great, I enjoyed my time there and got a scholarship. The coaching staff there have always been an absolute credit and really looked after me, and still do, because I still keep in contact with some of them. It’s really good to have that relationship with them.

Were there any senior pros in that time at the club who particularly helped with any advice? Would you get much interaction with (former first-team manager) Joey Barton?

Not so much with Joey Barton, it’d be now and then, but (former assistant) Clint Hill was very interactive. There were a few senior players in there like Bobby Grant, who was great and was part of the lads and really looked after us. Having someone like that in there helps and settles you at the club, makes you feel comfortable, because there’s obviously some characters in there. He was a great man to look up to, especially him being a Scouser as well!

Whereabouts in Liverpool have you grown up and is that still where you are today?

I grew up in Aintree, and still living there now, just by the racecourse. I’ve always lived there, with my mum and dad and my sister.

I think I’d be right in saying you’re a red. How much of the family is red, how much is blue?!

I’d say mostly red! My uncle and cousins, they support Everton, so there’s sometimes a bit of a clash every now and then!

Back at Colne, are there any big personalities in the team? Who’s lively, funny, slightly off the wall even?!

We’ve got Deano, Tom Dean, who’s got the banter. Sam O’Halleron as well, he’s got great banter. You’ve got (ex-Premier League defender) Ryan Taylor in there who’s quality; just knows the ins and outs of the game really. To play with him, with his experience, is amazing really. Lee Pugh, again, similar to Ryan, just knows the ins and outs of the game and gets you up for the game. Hakan (Burton), he’s a great footballer, and great person off the pitch, he looks after everyone there.

We did mention Nathan earlier but what kind of coach, what kind of manager would you describe him as?

He’s a great manager, he engages with everyone and makes sure he knows how everyone is and how they’re feeling. He wants the best for everyone in there. He’s good with his banter as well! He’s got a bit about him, but when he needs to be serious and professional, he really is. Having worked with him in the past, it’s good to be back with him, especially settling into a new club.

What have your overall impressions of the club been so far, from the admittedly more limited opportunity that you’ve had to properly get a feel for it all?

The club’s been great with me. It’s a really homely club and makes you feel at ease when you’re there. The fans are really welcoming, especially with me coming into it, they’ve been really good with me. I know there hasn’t been as many fans there due to the restrictions, but when they have been there, they’ve been unbelievable, extremely loud. Having that just gets you up for the game even more, it really does help. They really took me in as a player and trusted me. The whole of the club has and it’s been great to be a part of.

Most importantly, did you have to sing in front of the team after you joined?

I didn’t, I got out of it, I think! There were a few lads who did. We were having an away game and we stopped off at a hotel for some breakfast, just to prepare for the game properly after a long journey, and a few of the lads had to get up and sing. Luckily, it was time to get a move on, so I didn’t have to!

If you had have had to get up there, which song would you have gone for? Anything you’ve got in the bag?!

I’d probably go with an Oasis song. Maybe ‘Champagne Supernova’, something like that. Something that people can join in with.

Is there a team DJ in the dressing room, anyone who likes to dominate that side of it?

Yeah, we’ve got Harry Cannon who’s the designated DJ. He’s good with it as well, to be fair, he’s got some good tunes on him.

We mentioned the PT course, but that and football aside, what else do you enjoy doing? Was there anything new that you took an interest in when lockdown first started last year?

Just spending time with family and friends really. Obviously it’s harder now with the restrictions and you can’t really see many people, but it’s really good to just do that, especially with living away for two years, I didn’t really see much of them. I love to get into some series as well; I’m into the Prime documentaries or Netflix, I love watching some of them. Honestly, though, that’s it really, it’s just training and repeat, that’s how the day goes!

Finally, looking ahead at this point, what are you setting your sights on for the next year or two, and beyond that? To really try and push back towards the professional game?

Well yeah, definitely, I’m really looking towards going back into professional football and into that full-time environment again. I really enjoyed it when I was there and I kind of miss it. That would be the goal, and just to enjoy myself really. That’s the most important thing, because if I’m not enjoying myself, then something’s not going right! Obviously focusing on what we’ve got at stake now with Colne and pushing for promotion, which would be great for the club and great for me personally. I think we can really do that if the league carries on.

Interview by @chris_brookes

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