In an exclusive interview, I managed to catch up with ex-Imps forward Jamie Forrester. I spoke to him about a vast array of topics, ranging from his time at Sincil Bank, what forced him to leave the club, who his favourite strike partner was, and much more!
Written by Matt Scrafton.
Ask any lower league football supporter about Jamie Forrester and the vast majority of them will only have positive things to say. The much travelled striker was a household name in the English football league for almost two decades, taking in clubs such as Leeds United, Northampton Town, Grimsby Town, Hull City, Scunthorpe United, Bristol Rovers, Notts County and of course Lincoln City.
When asked about his time at the Imps, Jamie proclaimed he had “only fond memories of playing for Lincoln City. Although I was reaching the end of my career, I enjoyed every minute of playing for them”. His spell at the club lasted from 2006 to 2008, initially on loan from Bristol Rovers but eventually a move was made permanent after netting 5 times in 9 games. During this time Lincoln finished the 2006-07 season in 5th position, the fifth consecutive campaign that the Lincolnshire club had finished within the play-off spots. Jamie suggests that the pressures of the playoffs was perhaps taken for granted by the Lincoln support; “at that time many fans saw it as a given that we would always at least reach the playoffs. I think it was taken for granted slightly, but I’m sure the Lincoln fans look back at that era as the good days”.
With 148 goals to his name from 411 appearances during his distinguished career, Jamie is fittingly remembered as a reliable goalscorer in the lower leagues. And whilst this is true, it ignores the other side of his game that shouldn’t be overlooked, i.e. his link up play, spatial awareness and intelligent movement that meant he was always in the right place at the right time. Lincoln fans can certainly relate to this following the partnership and understanding that he built up with fellow frontman Mark Stallard under the management of John Schofield. Jamie spoke positively of that particular stage of his career, suggesting that it was great to be part of a free-scoring team and priceless for him at his age to see the athletic young midfielders doing all the leg work!
|Mark Stallard & Jamie Forrester scored 33 league goals between them during the 2006-07 campaign|
Although he featured for the Imps predominately under the stewardship of Schofield, Forrester was initially brought to the club by Lincoln legend Keith Alexander. When queried about the influence ‘Big Keef’ had upon him, Jamie stated that “I only played for Keith for 6-7 weeks before he left for Peterborough, but I learned a great deal from him. He has this knack of getting the best out of his players, and I was no different when he managed me”. The positive feeling must have been mutual too, as Forrester scored on his debut for the Imps in the 5-0 rout of local rivals Grimsby Town, with an exquisite lob from outside of the box. Jamie suggests that while that goal was one of his most memorable during his time at Sincil Bank, he also looks back on the three hat-tricks that he scored during that season, against Mansfield Town, Barnet and Rochdale respectively, as goals that he'll never forget. Forrester eventually left the club in 2008, citing differences of opinion with the board regarding his newly found Soccer Academy as the main reason for his departure.
The diminutive striker also featured for a number of Lincoln’s nearby clubs – namely Hull City, Grimsby Town and Scunthorpe United. When asked what differences there were between the clubs, Jamie replied “Grimsby were over-achieving at that time, Scunthorpe were beginning to realise their potential during my time there, and Hull were starting out on their climb up the league ladder, and were a sleeping giant of sorts”. It’s not often footballers can feature for local rivals, never mind four, and still remain respected and admired by all of them – but Forrester has managed it with ease.
|After an unsuccessful move to France, Forrester kick-started his career with Leeds United|
In fact, it seems that Forrester managed to fit in well with every club that he has played for: “I have enjoyed it at every club I have represented for different reasons, from on the pitch; to friends I have made off the pitch. For example, I didn’t play regularly at Bristol Rovers but loved it there because the city was a great place to live and I had many great friends there at the time. Conversely, at Northampton, it was a great time on the pitch because I was lucky enough to score a few goals for them”.
It was only outside of England that Forrester has struggled. At the age of 16 he moved south of England to France to join Auxerre after being scouted playing for England schoolboys, but failed to make a first-team appearance, returning to Leeds United after complaining of homesickness. In 1999, he moved abroad again, leaving Scunthorpe to move to Dutch side Utrecht, where he only managed one appearance more than he did in France after not receiving enough playing time.
Ever since retiring in 2009, Jamie has kept himself busy with a number of different ventures. Initially Jamie remained in football to coach youngsters whilst working with the Jamie Forrester Soccer Academy. However, he has now moved into business and set up his own company, CommunityBusiness Solutions Limited, a firm which specialises in reducing energy bills for its clients. Despite this, rumours circulated last year after the Richard Butcher memorial match that Jamie could possibly return to Lincoln City after they were relegated to the Blue Square Premier. Forrester suggests that he would have came back had he been asked, but unfortunately for the Imps faithful it never reached that stage. Jamie has also begun working on a new sports Channel - Sports Tonight Live, where he has turned his hand to TV presenting on The Basement Show, which takes a light-hearted look at Football Leagues 1 and 2.
Thanks to Jamie for taking the time to speak to me. You can follow him on Twitter Follow @Jamie_Forrester
You can also follow me on Twitter Follow @mattscrafton90