James Mortimer-Jones is hoping to celebrate a decade of service at Cirencester Town with promotion this season.
‘Jonah’ has been a fixture in the Centurions’ midfield for most of the past 10 years and is now assistant to manager John Brough at the Corinium Stadium., but he is still registered as a player.
“I’m extremely proud to have been at the club for 10 years, which is something I never imagined after joining as a 28-year-old,” Mortimer-Jones said.
“It’s been amazing to be a part of this club for a decade and I couldn’t get away if I tried now as my son George and daughter Connie are now playing for the junior teams!”
Mortimer-Jones started out in men’s football with Carterton Town in 1999, when he was 17.
“There was a wealth of experienced players who really took me under their wing and gave me plenty of constructive criticism there,” he said.
After more than 300 appearances for Carterton, he moved to North Leigh in 2006.
They narrowly missed out on the Hellenic League Premier Division title to Slimbridge in his first season, but they went on to win the league the following year, with Mortimer-Jones playing every minute of the successful 55-game campaign.
His next stop was at Didcot Town in the Southern League, where he won promotion via the play-offs in his first season and he remained there until 2010, when he switched to Cirencester.
“We played against Cirencester in the FA Cup and drew 0-0 and I found that my old coach Steve hale was now working there,” he said.
“We got chatting in the bar after where I told him it was a local game for me as I had moved to Fairford with my now wife Amy.
“In the replay I played well and scored a half decent goal to put Ciren out, so the last thing I was expecting was to be informed that seven days had been put in for me on the Thursday!
“Steve rang me after the week had passed, but I was not keen as I’m not a fan of players moving during the season especially so early on but he convinced me to meet Brian Hughes who insisted I met him at the Corinium Stadium.
“After being shown around the ground, arena and training pitch and talking about what standards he expected and what he thought I could bring to the team, I felt two feet taller and signed there and then. I knew I really wanted to play in Hughesy’s team.”
Mortimer-Jones helped Cirencester win the Southern League Division One South & West title in 2013/14, when they clawed back a 12-point deficit and won their last seven matches to finish on 92 points.
“Scoring on that final day with my son George there at his first football match was a dream come true,” Mortimer-Jones said.
“We had huge characters on the pitch and the perfect blend on the management in Hughesy, Kev Willetts and Warren Evans.”
Mortimer-Jones lists his biggest disappointment at Cirencester as the sacking of Hughes in September 2016.
“I always give 100 per cent, but my form was poor at the start of the season and I had a niggle so we decided I would sit out a game or two,” he said.
“The game I was back for I was on the bench and had to watch people not try a leg in a poor 1-0 defeat at home. If I could go back and play any game it would be that one.”
As he has reached his late 30s, Mortimer-Jones has been helping out on the coaching side at Cirencester, working as number two to Charlie Griffin and now Brough.
“I’ve enjoyed my time as a number two so far and working with Charlie was great he’s got so much passion and belief,” he said.
“He’s a very positive guy, we played very exciting football in a ‘if you score 4 we will score 5 ‘ sort of way! It wasn’t great for your heart!
“With Broughy I get opportunities to get ideas across and take plenty of coaching, I’ve never been a ‘yes man’ so we bounce ideas off each other quite well. We try and do things professionally as we can.”
Brough’s side have won their opening two league matches of the 2020/21 campaign without conceding a goal, although they were knocked out of the FA Cup at Saltash United in the first qualifying round.
But after finishing last season in fine form before the abandonment, the goal for this term is clear.
“We want promotion, whether that’s coming fifth and scraping through the play-offs or winning it by 20 points, we don’t care,” he said.
“There are some good sides in this division that will be pushing for them top spots.
“We’ve had a tricky start but we’ve ground out some results.
“The FA Cup game was disappointing and we know we must do better as a group, but we have a good squad of players who understand that it’s a long season that they will all have big parts to play.”
James Mortimer-Jones’ Cirencester Town dream XI
GK: Glyn Garner – most professional player I’ve known at Ciren, great organiser.
Def: Shane Anson – very strong player and if the ball gets past the player won’t!
Def: Leigh Henry – wins everything in the air, good with both feet and a superb tourist.
Def: Gethin Jones – very calm strong defender, who gets his share of goals.
Def: Aidan Bennett – played well over 300 games with him and he’s dependable in any position.
Mid: Jamie Reid – loose cannon, but I’d prefer him on my team. Had bundles of energy before his chocolate knee.
Mid: Nathan Davies – would run around looking for block tackles! Could play a bit too.
Mid: Lee Smith – big player in our title winning season, with brilliant game management.
Fwd: Tommy Anderson – still got time on his side to make a career out of the game.
Fwd: Ben Whitehead – goals, goals, goals and still time for him to move up the leagues.
Fwd: ‘Sir’ Charlie Griffin – all round game is unbelievable. A big character on and off the pitch.