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Former Stevenage, Oxford United and AFC Wimbledon striker Jack Midson says lockdown could have prolonged his playing career at Sheppey United


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Sheppey forward Jack Midson says the Covid-19 lockdowns may have added an extra couple of years onto his career.

The 37-year-old is expected to be back in action this Saturday for Sheppey’s FA Vase match at Littlehampton Town, just days after the latest month-long restrictions ended.

Sheppey United's Jack Midson has enjoyed his time at Sheppey United this season Picture: Paul Richards
Sheppey United's Jack Midson has enjoyed his time at Sheppey United this season Picture: Paul Richards

Midson has plenty of football behind him, with a long list of clubs that include Oxford United and AFC Wimbledon but he’s not ready to retire yet.

He’s enjoying the experience at Sheppey after making the decision to drop down to play for the Southern Counties East Premier Division outfit.

“I am naturally quite fit and I look after myself,” he said.

“I joke about it a bit but these two lockdowns have probably given me an extra couple of years on my career. We had a big break that rested all my joints and my body.

“We played a lot of games in a short space and then we’ve had another break. I would have kept going and it would have taken its toll by the end of the season but I have made the most of a bit of rest.

“I try not to look at how old I am, it is just about how I feel. I feel good, I look after myself with the nutrition and exercise. Mentally I just keep myself busy and my two kids keep me on the toes!”

The Sheppey players maintained their fitness levels during the latest lockdown by training remotely, which included group sessions over Zoom.

Midson has had to put his own football coaching on hold, however, something he does for a living.

It was the chance to coach the youngsters at Sheppey and the opportunity to play for a team on the up that meant moving to the Ites was a better option than moving elsewhere.

“I didn’t want to sign for a club too far away,” said Midson, who moved to Maidstone almost a decade ago after first joining Wimbledon.

“Going to Hemel Hempstead last year three times a week, on the M25, it took its toll and now Sheppey is just 20 minutes door to door, instead of three hours.

“I can spend more time at home and that journey isn’t in the legs either. I feel better and in the long run I am probably financially better off with all my coaching opportunities at Sheppey and around the club.

“The kids I coach at Sheppey come and watch me play and are on the sides shouting my name and that is brilliant. The whole package is perfect for me.”

Sheppey United's Jack Midson. Picture: Paul Richards
Sheppey United's Jack Midson. Picture: Paul Richards

Midson has had plenty of clubs but money has not been the focus in his career. While at Wimbledon, where he was regularly top scorer, he was offered the chance to move to Rotherham, under Steve Evans. He turned them down.

He was content with life, having just settled in Kent.

He said: “People think football is pretty glamorous, but unless you are Championship or Premier League you can’t buy a house everywhere you go, you end up renting and it is dead money really.

“From my time at Eastleigh and Oxford I saved up a bit of money and decided to relocate to Kent, buy a house and travel into Wimbledon from there. I have been here ever since.

“Rotherham came in for me for, offering £300,000. It was 50-50 whether I was going to go.

“I was top scorer in League 2 at that time. Terry Brown was manager of Wimbledon and he said he didn’t want me to go. I had just secured my house and started a family and I would then have to relocate to Rotherham.

“I could have done it, they had just built a new stadium and they eventually went into the Championship, it would have been brilliant but I could have gone there and not played.

“I was more than happy with the aura surrounding Wimbledon, it was a brilliant place to be. I was secure in Kent, banging in goals and happy.

“Even though it would have been good money at Rotherham, money hasn’t always been my priority.

“I have made enough for what I need, I am not greedy, I have just enjoyed playing at a good level and scoring goals.

“People say why drop down to Sheppey’s level? I am scoring goals and there is no pressure on me. I am relaxed and I have other opportunities for my future, rather than a quick fix for a few hundred quid for a year.”

Prior to Wimbledon, Midson spent a couple of years at Oxford United, helping them win a place in the Football League, winning in the play-offs at Wembley.

While there he was able to indulge in one of his other sporting passions, tennis. He has also coached that sport.

He had once played Peter Crouch after meeting through a mutual friend but the day at Timmy Mallett’s house was one he won’t forget in a hurry.

He recalled: “Timmy is a big Oxford fan and went to every home game. I got to know him well and he invited me to his place for a game. I turned up and Chris Evans was there having lunch so I played him too!

“I was thinking ‘what am I doing here?!’ It was quite surreal but we had a good laugh.

“As for Peter, he is so unorthodox, you cant get anything past him, with that 20ft wingspan of his!

“I am going to see if Matt (the Sheppey chairman) can build us some courts out the back at the club!”

Midson has stuck to football as a career, however. He’s already had a go on the management front, assisting his partner at M&M Coaching Sammy Moore at Leatherhead, Concord and Hemel Hempstead, but he’s happy enjoying playing at Sheppey. The management can wait.

He said: “I felt I needed to concentrate on playing for a couple of years.

“I have really enjoyed it so far, scoring a few goals. It is a lower level but there are some good players in there.

“I was surprised when Ernie (the manager) announced I was captain, as it was my first season there and there are a few other experienced players. But I have enjoyed it, they do call me skip and look up to me. I am pretty down to earth.

“If I take a step back and think about my previous experiences, an appearance at Wembley, top scorer in League 2, you think ‘actually, I have done alright!’ For me I just think, I am just in the same team as you lads, I’ll just crack on and be like one of

you.

“They are a good honest bunch, no bad eggs, they are having a right go at some of the fitness drills that are being put in our WhatsApp group, and fair play to them. They are not professional players and hardly semi-professional but the way they are keeping themselves fit is probably why we are doing so well.

“Hopefully this break hasn’t affected the momentum but we have strength in depth in the squad and good characters to carry on as we finished.”

Read more on non-league football in Kent

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