We’re a League One and Two website; that’s what we do. We see the beauty in lower league football, the reality of our game when the money, pomp and glamour are stripped away.
We exist in a world where players and fans do often mingle at events or in sponsors lounges afterwards, where clubs must engage with the local community because when times are hard, that’s all they have. We enjoy football at its basic level, no money, attitudes or politics, just two football clubs often struggling to get by fighting for points and places. It’s not always pretty on the eye, but it has soul, feeling and is grounded.
It breaks our hearts when a promising young player getting regular football moves to a top flight club. All top clubs snap up young talent, but often those players are not seen again. We really liked Chester City defender Sam Hughes, but after being dragged from the National League to the Premier League with Leicester City, he disappeared.
The same could have happened to Jamie Fielding, the 19-year-old Hastings defender given a contract offer by the Foxes. He could have become another of the lost generation, playing Under 23 matches few care about instead of developing into a real footballer.
He chose not to do that. This week he signed for Stevenage and that is both refreshing and exciting in equal measure.
“I am ecstatic. It is a great football club and it was an easy choice for me,” Fielding told the Comet. “It has been a great season for me progressing in men’s football but this is the next step for me now to establish myself in the Stevenage First Team.”
Fielding is a natural leader on the pitch, an old school centre half not frightened to put himself about. That talent will now be exposed to regular first team football, something that is far better for any youngster than a posh academy and behind-closed-doors matches against other privileged kids.
In choosing Stevenage over Leicester, Fielding has opted to put his faith in the power of playing football. The coaching at Stevenage, with respect, is likely to be of a lesser quality, if only because of the numbers and the facilities. However, he’ll still receive professional coaching and just because a side is in League Two it doesn’t mean they’re not skilled at what they do, only that they have fewer resources to throw at it.
Fielding will be in the dressing room, living the banter, the heartbreak and the joy. He’ll experience hostile crowds, disappointment and delight, all of which will help build his character. Who knows, with some good performances he might even attract more attention and end up as a regular in League One, or the Championship.
There’s a famous quote from the film Trainspotting which ends with the words ‘choose life’. Jamie Fielding has done just that, he’s chosen real life, real football and we sincerely hope he sees the benefit of it.
If he does, other young and exciting players might get their break in the lower leagues and not spend four of five crucial seasons festering away in an academy, lost to the football world