Retirement!!

I always thought that when the moment came I would be carried off the pitch, wave to the crowd, wipe a little bit of dirt on my face and walk off into the sunset. It’s something I had seen before and after all my years playing football I thought it was my right to go out as I had imagined. Unfortunately that was not the way it was going to be for me, and I have delayed posting this Blog as it is so final. But it is time.

I have officially announced my retirement and it is almost with relief that I say my goodbye to the game that has given me so much. A relief as I know I could not give anymore, that the last 15 months of work in the gym for no reward are over. I have had six unsuccessful attempts at going back into training and none has lasted more than a week in full contact playing. Every time I believed wholeheartedly that this would be the time I would make it back. My last comeback was by far the cruelest. We took a trip back to the surgeon and under sedation I received another steroid injection directly into the joint. The surgeon was happy with the operation I had on my hip reshaping the ball of the hip, but it was the cartilage damage to the ball of the hip that the micro fracture had not been able to rectify after a challenge sustained against Southampton in December 2012 that was the worry. We took extra caution in the buildup to my outdoor work, concentrating on bulking up the thigh and glut strength and focusing on core strength sessions.

This time I think we all knew it was the last throw of the dice as we had covered all bases. Both myself and the club had done everything we could just to get to this point. Training with the Under 21s went well, allowing me to be competitive and I felt strong. I went into sessions with the first team and I was surprised at how good I felt, I was back! Then three sessions into training with the team a run down the right flank, no physical contact and BANG! I felt the familiar pain again and limped off the training pitch. Not good enough, my body had betrayed me again after three months preparation in the gym, for the sixth time running, without the payoff of a game, or a substitute appearance. I knew it was over.

I would like to thank all of the medical staff at Reading Football Club, and Head Physio Luke Anthony in particular, who worked so hard to try to get me back playing, who have gone over and above the call of duty. I would like to thank the fans who at the QPR game still sang my name after over a year of me not being able to get out on the pitch for the team. That gesture will never be forgotten by me. Likewise all of the kind messages I have received from my former Clubs’ fans and beyond. I have been lucky enough to address the Gasheads down in Bristol on the pitch and I have visited Wigan, where I was treated so well by everyone at the Club which left me feeling humbled.

So what now for me? I have been lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work within the Media over the last four years and it is something I hope to continue and I look forward to attending the World Cup in Brazil.

My recent qualification in Corporate Governance through the Accredited Get on Board Course will hopefully allow me to continue to attempt to make some impact on football governance and administration. The course has given me real confidence and knowledge about boardroom behavior and structures and I look forward to working further to continue the course’s success and outcomes for its graduates.

The work of the Jason Roberts Foundation is what really gets me up in the morning, and I aim to input a lot of my time into continuing to make an impact on people’s lives through sport and education. The foundation has done so much already due to the fantastic work of so many people. I will now take on a much more involved role which will see me spending a lot more time in the Caribbean to deliver our programmes there as well as the UK. I am really excited about the new initiatives being discussed with a range of new partners and I want to continue giving back through the foundation.

So, as one chapter of my life ends, another one begins: one with new priorities and ambitions. I am now realizing just how much of my mental energy and self worth was dependent on my passion , football. Now is the time to refocus on the things and people that are the most important to me. The game moves on, and so will I.

Many Thanks
Jason Robert MBE

http://www.jasonrobertsfoundation.com
http://www.jasonroberts30.com
@JasonRoberts30

Old records. Dub, Reggae and 80`s music. Do you know about them?

I just took collection of a delivery of old records from a family member who has recently passed away.. Dub..Reggae and 80`s music.

Going  through the records I found something really interesting, much of the recordings are from London studios.

@jasonroberts30

I have picked out a few to discuss..

Lovers Dub.. Marketed by S&G Record Shop, Roman Road

The Jones Girls..Keep it Coming

Winsome – Homebreaker.. Fashion Records, Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction

Ragamuffin Style – Geensleeves.. Records, Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush

King & City Sound – Summer Breeze..  Cha Cha Music, Craven Park Road, Harlesden, NW10

Do you have any memories of these studios… memories invoked by these songs or similar…and other songs produced by those studios which you can recommend to me?

I am hoping to add to my collection, what would you suggest and what are the tips for building up a Vinyl collection without spending over the odds?

Please use my Twitter @jasonroberts30 with #dubreggae  if you have a comment ( it`s the “communication channel” I have at the moment.. )

Thanks!

Jason Roberts

Our Game is always evolving

Our Game is always evolving, and one of the biggest recent impacts on the game has been the emergence of the “squad” and “rotation”..now let me be clear the very best players will always play, regardless of formations, tactics and rotation, but the principle of a squad of 23 experienced players contesting 11 starting positions come game day have moved the goalposts.

“Never change a winning team” was the mantra and the accepted way of doing things as I made my way through the leagues, but as more teams brought into the squad ethos, not just the top teams but teams in the second tier Championship as well.

In my opinion squads and rotation changed the culture within the dressing room dramatically. Whereas before you would have a core of 11 players who notwithstanding injury or dramatic loss of form would always play, with maybe 3 or 4 real options on the bench then some young prospects. Managers or Coaches now pick teams for individual games, previous recent form is now measured alongside energy levels, training form and tactical considerations for any specific opposition. This could result with players in form being left out for a variety of reasons, but how does this affect the players? In ways it can result in a dampening of the competitive edge of players. Coaches contend that players should put the team first and play the role needed by that team, but all players strive to be the focal point and the best player in the team right?

Nobody dreamt of being a sub when you acted out winning the World Cup as a kid in the park did they? At its worst, it can lead to a “shrug your shoulders” attitude towards selection. Alternatively, when you have a real squad mentality it can be inspiring. In our recent promotion campaign at Reading, Jay Tabb came to epitomise what it was to be selfless in the pursuit of success, here was a man who trained harder than anybody, was a revalation every time he turned out for the team and picked or not, and it was mostly not, he never complained.

In light of his attitude and sacrifice for the team how could anyone else complain about their own personal situation. It is my opinion that without Jays example our team would not have achieved any success, and he was as crucial to our promotion as any other single individual.

I have had my own taste of being an “impact” player, and I must confess, I found it very hard to wrestle with my ego enough to become content with it. I found it hard to feel part of the team and my frustrations would often lead to me agitating for moves at regular intervals. Even now, after all I have previously written, that is how I feel a professional should act, “if you don’t rate me, I will go somewhere where they do and prove you wrong” and I am sure many players would agree.

I am quite sure I was never once “rested” without verbals between me and the manager, usually in the privacy of the managers office. As I read that back, I think that says more about me than anything, and in our new game I wonder what is more of an acceptable attitude, one of a team player, even if it does not include you? Or the ruthless ambition of an individual?

Jason Roberts

The Jason Roberts Foundation

Official site of the Jason Roberts Foundation  Welcome to Jason Site - Google Chrome 17.10.2013 191019

Since 2007 my biggest personal achievement outside of my family has been my charitable work. I like many people within my profession do much work with charities with or without the cameras there and it has always given me a sense of pride and perspective to be able to give back to a cause, community and overall society through that work.

2007 I decided that I was undertaking so much work for charitable causes that the natural step would be to start my own, so I did. I must admit, at that time I was not sure how it would work, but I knew that I had a desire to impact issues and causes close to my heart and founding a charity was the ideal way to do that and I have been blessed to have volunteers and staff who share that vision. In 2010 I was awarded an MBE for my services to Charity and Sport which in my opinion is held by me on behalf of all of the people who have given time and effort to the JRF and it’s many programmes.

In the 6 years that The Jason Roberts Foundation has been established we have impacted many causes and issues in the UK and in the Caribbean, two parts of the world very close to my heart. Issues including obesity, education, mentoring, women’s participation, coach education, establishing leagues, providing equipment. We have raised funds for orphanages other charities and organizations and our programmes are too many to list since our inception.

One particular strand of the JRF’s work which has given me great satisfaction is our disability programmes which have run at the heart of the foundation from the start. From 2010 our programmes have attempted to highlight and impact some of the disability issues in both the UK and Grenada and have attempted to use sport to do that.

See this link  for our 2010 Grenada Disability Programme:

jasonrobertsfoundation.comUserFilesfileSEC_JRF.pdf - Google Chrome 18.10.2013 091330

And see the Youtube below for one of our UK initiatives:

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The issues that exists around disability in both regions differ greatly but are both very important, in the UK issues seem to be very much around awareness and opportunity. Whereby in the Caribbean the more practical issues of right to play, attitudes towards disability, equipment and good practice. I have been told by experts within the field that the Caribbean is where the UK was 30 years ago in that respect.

I aim to do more work around these issues and at the foundation we have some excellent partners who have already done so much work in conjunction with the JRF and I aim to keep you up to date through my as to our journey into making some headway around these issues both in the UK and the Caribbean.

Jason Roberts

@JasonRoberts30 on Twitter

Nationality, Comme ci, comme ça

My Mother was born in French Guiana South America and my Father was born in Grenada West Indies. I was born in the late seventies in Stonebridge Estate, North West London.

It seems strange while I am writing this to imagine that my parents had traveled from such far flung places to meet in such a place. Now I am very fond of Stonebridge, but I wonder what my grandparents thought as part of the Windrush generation when they saw the 20 floored visions of architecture that greeted them, alongside signs of no Blacks no Irish. As a young man I often visited Grenada and I felt part of the Island, it’s people and it’s culture, even if they called me “English Bwoy”.

I watched my 3 Uncles make their way in a game that did not want them and it culminated in one of them, Cyrille Regis being selected to play for England which he did with pride even after the death threats, racial abuse and the bullets through the post. Nevertheless as a family and a community we were immensely proud of his achievements. My uncle has recently disclosed the offer to represent France and the move to St Etienne which was offered to him as a young man before he chose to represent England. His decision may have changed my life, as my mother Nilla being the only french speaking one of his siblings had been earmarked to accompany Cyrille had he decided to go, alongside her young son Jason..oh well.. Comme ci, comme ça .

This is all relevant to me because the subject of Nationality, where you are “from” and who you should represent is very much in the news at the moment. It is a debate that is very interesting to me and one that I feel quite strongly about as in my experience it is such a personal thing. You are what you feel and in my case I felt just as Grenadian as I did English. Culturally I felt like I identified with Grenada and with the farm of my Great Grandfather where my Great Grandmother is buried in the back yard. I also felt English and supported the national team and wanted nothing more than success for club and national sides.

As my own personal journey progressed into football there where rumours of a call up to the England U21 squad and I know scouts we’re monitoring my development. I cannot say 100% that it would have happened, or that I was ever at a level that I would have received a full call up throughout my career but it would not have mattered to me because as a 19 year old an offer was made to me to represent Grenada at International level and I did not hesitate for a moment before accepting the offer. The pride and sense of achievement I have felt representing Grenada has honestly been the highlight of my footballing career, a tiny Island of 100,000 population has provided me with my finest footballing moments, win, lose or draw. My International career has never stopped me identifying with and supporting the England national teams within any event or competition.

I feel English and whenever I am not here I recognise just how English I am with many attitudes and ways and view of things, but I feel just as Grenadian even though I have never lived there or spent longer than 6 weeks at any one time. Man United’s new young star Janazau has the option to represent several countries and debate has raged as to if England should offer him the opportunity to represent the three lions. In my view of course they should if it lies within the laws of recruitment the offer should of course be made and the player should make a decision on how he feels culturally and how he sees his career progressing. Only the individual can make a call on how he views his nationality if he has choices and  there may be several reasons as to why he may legitimate feel that way.

In any case I hope that Januzau follows his heart when he makes his decision and that whatever his decision, when he pulls on his International jersey he feels the pride and emotion I do when I represent Grenada.

Jason,  @jasonroberts30 on Twitter

The Strike Partnership is Dead…..

Striker..Front Man..No9..Frontrunner.. Centre Forward..Goalscorer..Deep Lying Forward..False No9

All different ways to describe a Central Attacker..but last week I was asked if they are different jobs..and the decline of forward partnerships

In my experience there are different kinds of Central Attackers who perform different jobs.

A Centre Forward is someone who can be the focal point of attacks, can hold the ball up threaten with pace and cause the opposition defense to stay honest and drop the necessary depth to allow the whole team to dominate possession. Ideally pace, power, strength, fitness are needed. In the age of many teams playing 1 up front..this type of Attacker is in vogue.
Drogba is the epitome of this striker..

Striker
Natural Goalscorer..call it what you like but players like this come alive in the box..they are focussed on the goal at all times, sometimes to the detriment of hold up play, open play runs..but his currency is goals. You may have to accommodate him with the correct partner to supplement his game, and he probably will not be able to be relied on to play up front on his own but he will reward you with goals..there was a time when every team had at least 1 or 2 of these, but at the moment this type of player is not in fashion. Due to tactical demands.
Romario is my favourite example

Deep Lying Striker
This Player traditionally needed a striker to balance with, but in the era of False 9′s teams are playing with a player like this up top on his own.. Touch, technique, appreciation of space and movement are key to this type
Zola is an example

The Strike Partnership is dead because of rotation, not allowing a duo to develop a relationship (can you think of a strike partnership that play regularly in the Premier League) Teams are being picked on the premise of tactics, balance and affecting the opposition
This has affected the Goalscorer more than anyone..for instance, in what era can a player with Jermaine Defoe’s goalscoring record not start every week, in the past teams would be made around his type of player. Lineker, Rush, Allen, Owen whatever they could not do you would find a partner to balance their talents..

Now make no mistake in the end all Central Attackers will be judged on goals, and the best players will always come out on top regardless of their type but losing 3-2 but scoring a brace will not keep you in the team, tactically Managers will make decisions based on how they can win games, not by how can they assist a front unit to score goals..at Bristol Rovers myself and Jaime Cureton scored 52 Goals in a Season, but the balance was not right and we did not make the Play-offs..I would have swapped half of our goals for success..

At Wigan my partnership with Nathan Ellington was hugely successful because we could both cover most bases and our understanding was incredible, the team balance was excellent..and in truth we just tried to pass to each other as much as possible

A frustration for me at Blackburn was that myself and Benni McCarthy did not get more game time together, I don’t know our stats but I remember we scored 9/10 goals in 4 games at the end of one season, and I always felt that partnership would have been successful, but a mixture of form, tactics and Roque Santa Cruz’s amazing performances put paid to that. I played up front on my own for a Sam Allardyce team at Blackburn and it was a tough lonely job..winning free kicks and troubling the defence was a large part of the brief..goals were hard to come by, but results were good..a top ten finish was justification enough, although at times it felt like I was sacrificing myself for the team.

Like any Fashion, the Striker will be back in vogue soon enough..but he will be asked to do many other jobs too, or he will find himself out of the team without doing much wrong..

The Strike Partnership is dead in my opinion though..2 strikers at the top level is seen as a luxury now and being outnumbered in midfield is unthinkable, I do not agree with that as I think a responsible 2 will ensure that 1 drops into a position to attach himself to the deep lying midfielder and hell maybe I am just a romantic..I miss every team having a partnership that would just roll off your tongue.

Yorke & Cole
Shearer & Sutton
Collymore & Fowler
Stoichkov & Romario
Hasselbank & Viduka
Klinsmann & Sheringham
Owen & Heskey

Now…how could that be a luxury…