Jason’s career started at Brentford.
“I joined Brentford on YTS apprenticeship forms in 1990 after impressing in a trial at the age of 16. I wasn’t particularly big and was often played at right or left back in my 1st season there.
After a growth spurt during pre-season I forced my way in at centre half and was playing well. I had been involved in a few reserve games and was pleased with how things were progressing when I got a bad back injury.
I had gone up for a header and landed awkwardly against Fulham at Griffin Park in the FA Youth Cup, it felt like someone had stuck a knife into the bottom of my back. I was out for a number of weeks and kept getting told by the physiotherapist that I was suffering from growing pains and that I needed to fight the pain. Being young and naïve I listened to what I was being told but it was getting worse.
I was in agony every time I tried to train or play matches and by the time it came to being told whether I would be offered a professional contract I already knew what the answer was.
When I was released by Brentford at 18, my dad made me go and see an Osteopath. He advised that I had put two vertebrae out in the middle of my back and it was little wonder that I had been in so much pain and unable to do anything. He was very angry that someone in the professional game had been so negligent”.
Following his release from Brentford, Jason moved to Hayes which proved to be a long and fruitful association with the club making over 300 appearances.
“After talking things through with my dad, I decided to go and do pre-season at Hayes FC in 1992. They were the biggest non-league club locally and it was a great introduction to men’s football.
I spent a good 3 or 4 months playing reserve team football but I was becoming fitter and stronger all the time and managed to force my way into the first team towards the end of that season. I made my debut as a 2nd half substitute in a 3-2 win away to Enfield, who were top of the league at the time. The Hayes dressing room was not one for the faint-hearted and I had to grow up very quickly. After a poor start to the following season, the manager was replaced by Terry Brown.
We didn’t have great resources at Hayes but Browny really galvanised the club. He worked extremely hard at getting a group of young players together that were hungry to progress. We were likened to a ‘pub team’ at times because of some of the shenanigans we used to get up to, especially in opposition teams bars, but believe me we had some very good players in that team. The likes of Jon Brady, Warren Kelly, Lee Flynn, Andy Cox, Darron Wilkinson, Martin Randall and Jason Roberts were all top players and many went on to play at higher levels.
I’m sure the Boro fans will remember Jason Roberts. He was phenomenal in a 5-1 demolition at Broadhall Way in an evening game just before he left Hayes for Wolves. I’m not sure they’ll remember that I scored our 1st goal with a diving header at the far post though!
Not many teams fancied playing against us, especially at Church Road. Unfortunately the ground is not there anymore but we used to love the look on the other teams faces as they came through the gates. Although we didn’t get great crowds, it was an intimidating place to come and some teams were beaten before they even got on the pitch!
We managed to win the Ryman League in 1995-1996 and came 3rd in the Conference the year that Cheltenham Town won promotion. For a part-time team that was a great achievement, it was before they had play-offs and only 1 team won promotion. Imagine that, Hayes in the Football League! I loved my time at Hayes, playing there from 1992-2001, making 337 appearances and scoring 25 goals. I also won 3 of my 8 England Caps whilst at Hayes”.
The next port of call for Jason was Boro, joining in the 2001/2002 pre-season. “I had actually tried to leave Hayes in 1999 and very nearly signed for Yeovil. I had been talking to Colin Lippiatt and had agreed a deal to sign. I had told Browny I was leaving and resigned from my job. Then Colin seemed to go cold on the deal and it didn’t happen. I found out that he’d signed Terry Skiverton instead (What a bad decision that was!). I was really disappointed but after talking to Browny I decided to sign another 2 years at Hayes.
The squad had started to break up and a lot of the players had been cherry picked by the bigger fish. I had made my mind up that if I didn’t leave this time I’d never leave so I told Browny that I was definitely going this time. I’d always wanted to play at the highest level I could and although Stevenage were in the same league as Hayes, I wanted to go and play on a bigger stage. I received enquiries from Dagenham & Redbridge, Woking and Stevenage. I came up to see Paul Fairclough but after being shown around the ground and talking with him I went home a little bit disappointed, I felt that he was unsure about whether I would fit in to a different formation to that I was used to at Hayes.
The following day I was due to go and speak to Woking, Colin Lippiatt was now the manager there. Whilst on my way to Woking, I received a call from Cloughie. He had heard that I was signing for Woking and was virtually begging me to go and meet with him again at Stevenage. Something in me took over; I turned the car around and went back up to Stevenage to meet with him. I signed that night”.
The decision for Jason was not a difficult one in the end…
“The club didn’t need selling. Once I looked out onto the pitch and the stadium I just knew it was where I wanted play. It had nothing to do with money either as I could easily have earned more elsewhere. I just thought it would be the best place to progress my football career”.
Jason first game in Boro colours was a baptism of fire – a pre-season friendly against North London premiership opposition, Tottenham Hotspur which ended in an 8-0 defeat at Broadhall Way.
“I remember Cloughie announcing the team and I was number 3. The left back, Paul Sturgess was given number 5. I went over to Cloughie and asked if it was ok for us to swap shirts so I could be number 5. Cloughie replied “You should be happy that you’ve got a shirt 1-11”. I thought, “Fair play” and put the 3 shirt on. To be honest that was the least of my concerns… I remember Gus Poyet scoring a hat-trick in about 20 minutes! I came off at half-time 5-0 down and thinking ‘what have I done?!’ We’d only had two training sessions before that game and I felt as if I had someone else’s legs!
I wore number 3 for the whole of that season. Cloughie departed midway through the season and Wayne Turner took over. For his first game he asked if I’d prefer to be number 5. I’d been pleased with the way I’d been playing and didn’t want to change my luck so I told him I wanted to stay as number 3 so I kept it all season.
The following season, the League changed to squad numbers with the name printed on the back of your shirt. That was when I switched to number 5. I remember a couple of the Boro faithful coming up to me and complaining because they had bought shirts with ‘Goodliffe, 3’ on for the FA Trophy final, only for me to change my number to 5 for the following season. I felt really embarrassed”!
Jason scored 15 goals in the red and white of Boro and remembers his first goal well, along with his second that happened minutes later.
“I remember being 1-0 down at home to Nuneaton. It was the 90th minute and I managed to get up above Terry Angus at the far post to head back across goal and into the far corner. It felt great to score but the feeling was wiped out almost immediately when they scored again to make it 2-1. From kick off we forced a corner and I was able to score with another header to make it 2-2.
I think my best goal would have to be the one against York City at home. We were 1-0 down, Stampy had just been sent off and the lads were in need of some inspiration. The ball came in from a corner and Jefferson Louis went up for a header with a York defender. The ball came out to me just inside the box and I managed to have a quick touch sideways before sending a right foot half-volley screaming into the top corner, not bad for a centre half”!
Whilst talking about Darryn Stamp (Stampy) Jason recalls the fact he used to travel with him commenting “We hit it off from the moment he arrived at Stevenage and he’s a real top bloke. I used to do most of the driving because he couldn’t handle the fact that everything was so much quicker ‘down here than up north’”.
When asked to recall his most memorable match, Jason has little doubt in his mind
“The one that I probably remember the most is beating Accrington Stanley 5-0 at Broadhall Way. I had been out injured since November after rupturing my Anterior Cruciate Ligament in my right knee. I had worked extremely hard to get myself fit for the start of the following season, only to tweak a groin in the final pre-season friendly. That meant I then missed the opening games at Dagenham & Redbridge and at home to Aldershot, both had ended in defeat.
Accrington was my first game since returning from injury, I remember the fans singing ‘We’ve got our captain back’. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck, it felt so good to be back out there on the pitch. That game we battered them and I scored two goals with headers from corners. I particularly remember the first one, a bullet diving header from a Danny Bulman corner. It meant so much to me after being out for so long and a lot of built of frustration came out in that celebration! It even made the front page of the Non-League Paper”.
Jason has a number of anecdotal stories about his time at Boro; with two in particular Boro supporters may remember or have heard about…..
“I remember being slated by the Boro faithful during a match at home to Dover in 2002 for kicking the ball away at a free-kick when we were losing 3-1. Let me tell you the story…
Wayne Turner came up to me before the game and said that I needed to get booked in the game as otherwise if I picked up a booking in the last 3 games then I would be suspended for the FA Trophy final. I had spent my whole career being told by managers not to get booked and here was Wayne telling me that I had to get booked…Heaven! I remember thinking to myself that wouldn’t be too difficult!
Well, I think I must have given away about 20 fouls that day. I just went round all game like a mad man kicking people, elbows, late tackles, swearing at the ref, I had tried so hard to get booked. The ref had spoken to me on at least 3 occasions telling me that it was my last chance but he just wouldn’t give me a yellow card!
We had been awful, were losing 3-1 and it was the last minute of the game. I was starting to panic that I still hadn’t been booked and there was no way I could miss the Trophy final. Trotty had just given away a free-kick on the edge of our penalty area. I went up to the referee and started having a right go at him. He told me to go away, as I turned I picked up the ball and kicked it about 70 yards down the pitch (it was embarrassing!).
The Boro fans were unaware of the situation and gave me loads of stick, but I just had to do it. Finally the ref pulled out a yellow card, he said to me “Jason, I’ve tried so hard not to book you today but this time you’ve given me no choice!” I thanked him, shook his hand and turned away with a massive smile on my face, knowing that I’d be leading the team out at Villa Park. The crowd were still hammering me”!
The second story surrounds a poke in the eye – not by an opposition forward but by his then young son saying good bye to his dad….
“I was leaving home to go and meet the coach at Waltham Abbey as we were playing Dover Athletic Away. I called out to my son Ben that I was going, he came running up to me to give me a kiss and cuddle goodbye. As I bent down to pick him up, he went to put his arm round me and poked me straight in the eye!
I didn’t feel too bad at the time but I had to pull over 3 times on the M25 as it was just watering so much that I couldn’t see. By the time I got on the coach it was virtually closed and I knew that I was struggling for the game.
When we got to Dover, their club doctor had a look at it and advised that I had a scratch right across the eyeball and wouldn’t be able to play. I just couldn’t stop it watering. I felt so embarrassed, especially when my dad turned up to watch me and I had a great big patch across my eye”!
Whilst at Boro, Jason played under 4 managers – Paul Fairclough, Wayne Turner, Graham Westley and Mark Stimson. When asked, which manager influenced his playing career the most, Jason commented
“Paul Fairclough signed me at Stevenage and I’ll always be grateful to him for that. Sam McMahon was the captain (and a great player too) but Cloughie encouraged me to be a leader. We played some great football under him but were finding it hard to find the back of the net as a team and ended up struggling below half way. Our best form was in the FA Trophy but the club decided to change things before the end of the season.
Wayne Turner was a fantastic coach and I really enjoyed his training sessions. I learnt a lot tactically and technically on the training ground. Unfortunately, Wayne came from a full-time professional environment and found it very difficult to understand the mentality of a part-time footballer that had been working all day and had then rushed to a game. There was a divide between the players that were already at the club and the ones he had brought in. Results had started to suffer because of it and the club made the right decision to change things.
Graham Westley definitely had the biggest influence on me in my time at Stevenage. The first thing he did was take the captaincy from me and give it to Steve Watson, whom he had brought with him from Farnborough.
He tested people mentally as well as physically and a lot of the players couldn’t handle it and bailed out. I saw it as a challenge to prove to him that he needed me at the club and I worked very hard to do so. Graham gave me the opportunity to become a professional footballer, to concentrate 100% on being the best footballer I could be.
He took me on to new levels both physically and mentally. It was tough at times and very demanding but he introduced me to things like Nutrition, Yoga, Pilates, and Sports Psychology. All these things helped me to get more from my body and enhance performance. He was driven to be successful and I wanted to be part of it”.
Jason played with a number of very good players during his 6 years at the club but one stands out for him “George Boyd -That boy has so much talent it’s frightening. He did things on a training pitch that made people look stupid (although he knew not to do it to me!). He was a great lad, with a great attitude. He worked very hard on his game and it’s great to see him doing so well.
I remember telling a couple of scouts that I knew at bigger clubs to keep an eye on him as he was going to be a top player. They didn’t do anything at the time and although it has taken him a little bit longer than I expected, he has now made it to the Premier League. I really hope he manages to show them what he’s about”.
Jason remembers well the 2002/2003 season where Boro were in real danger of being relegated from the Conference. “I remember losing 1-0 away to Kettering on Boxing Day. We had gone bottom of the League and the coach windows had been smashed during the game. There I was sitting in the back of one of the supporter’s cars getting a lift home and wondering how it was all going wrong. It was a horrible place to be and I was frustrated that there were players there that it didn’t seem to hurt as much as me but thankfully Graham brought a new energy to the club and we managed to finish 12th that season”.
Part of the rescue that season was the injection of 7 players from Farnborough Town “I remember sitting on the coach for a game away at Tamworth when the 7 of them got on. It was a really weird atmosphere and definitely created an ‘us and them’ situation but we were in a desperate position with a team that wasn’t good enough so it needed to be done. All 7 players went on to have a massive impact and were great signings. People think that I had a problem with Steve Watson, I didn’t. I got on really well with Steve and he was a big part on why we improved the way we did. He was a good captain and led by example in everything he did. He was a great trainer and people aspired to be as fit as him. Unfortunately for him, the supporters felt aggrieved on my behalf and he didn’t really get the recognition he deserved.
Barry Laker and Michael Warner were also massive players for us. I don’t think I ever saw Micky make a mistake, let alone have a bad game. He read the game well and allowed me freedom to attack the ball knowing that he was covering round me. Barry was deceiving, he didn’t look the biggest but he was great in the air and very strong physically. I remember spending a couple of months with him in the gym when I was out with my cruciate and I’ve never seen anyone lift weights like him, he was a beast! Both of them were good mates, very consistent performers and I really enjoyed playing with them.
I knew Nathan Bunce and Rocky Baptiste from my Hayes days so that was easy, you always knew what you would get from Buncey and Rocky was always likely to nick you a goal out of nothing!
Danny Carroll had a great knack of getting goals from midfield. He complimented Gary Holloway and Steve Watson well as they would do a lot of the graft and Danny could then concentrate on arriving in the box at the right time.
All of them were good lads that played a massive part in steering us away from the danger zone”.
Jason was always a supporter’s favourite and was voted Player of the season in two consecutive years -2001/2002 and 2002/2003 “It’s always a great feeling to know that you are appreciated by the supporters. I was very fortunate to be at the top of my game in those first two seasons and I managed to keep that bond with them until I left the club. I’ve been fortunate to have had a good rapport with supporters at most of the clubs I have played at and it was great to win the awards back to back.I was also very fortunate to be made England captain for a fixture versus USA at Broadhall Way. The weather was awful and the game really should have been called off. Thankfully, we managed to play the game and it was great to captain the side in front of my home crowd. It made for a special night and one I’ll never forget”.
When asked about his biggest frustration whilst in Boro colours, Jason gives a typical honest appraisal of his time with Stevenage “My biggest frustration was not winning anything. I managed to lead the club to two major cup finals but lost them both. We were always thought of as one of the top sides in the League and but despite having some very good players we never quite managed to put it all together consistently”.
Reflecting on his time at Boro generally, Jason is candid again “Obviously my biggest disappointment was losing out in the play-off final against Carlisle at Stoke. That was my opportunity to get the club into the League and also fulfil my own ambition of playing at a higher level but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
I had 6 great years at Stevenage and I’m proud to have captained such a great club. I played some of the best football of my career in my first couple of seasons and was at my peak when I suffered the cruciate injury. When I came back, I’m not sure I was the same physically but I was definitely a better player. I understood the game better and had more of an influence on my team mates”.
Jason is really pleased to see Boro’s recent success “Phil Wallace has worked extremely hard to put the infrastructure in place and has always made sure that the club doesn’t overstretch itself financially. My reason for joining in 2001 was because I could see potential of the club and although I didn’t manage to do it in my time; I am delighted to see them doing so well”.
Jason has been back to Broadhall Way a number of times since his departure “When I was released in January 2007, I joined Rushden & Diamonds until the end of the season. I returned to Broadhall Way with them but missed the game with injury, although I did get to go on the pitch to pick up my 50/50 winnings!
I have been back a couple of times to watch but never as a player. I’m quite happy about that though as it wouldn’t have felt right returning for the opposition”.
In closing the conversation about his playing career with Boro, Jason was asked how he would liked to be remembered by the Boro faithful “I’d like to be remembered by the Boro fans as someone who wore his heart on his sleeve and gave everything that he had in every game he played (even though that didn’t always do his body any favours!)”. Jason will get no arguments from Boro supporters on that score!
Jason when talking about leaving the club commented “When you have spent 6 years at the club and built up such a strong relationship with the staff and supporters it becomes very difficult when it is time to leave.
Mark Stimson had taken over from Graham at the start of the season and obviously wanted to put his own stamp on things with his own players. It was obvious from day one that he didn’t want me at the club and the disappointment at the time was that he wasn’t honest and say it to me. He was quite entitled to change things and I would have understood that it was time to move on but I would have respected him more if he had just told me straight. I remained professional throughout but I knew that it was time to move on. I didn’t want to be where I wasn’t wanted and felt I deserved to be treated better.
I was 32, I’d had a couple of bad injuries and I just wanted to play football. I asked to leave but was told that I was still part of the plans, so I then asked to go out on loan. Thankfully, the club allowed me to go on loan to York City, it was a great club with fantastic people and I really enjoyed my time there. I initially only signed for a month but I enjoyed it so much there and we were playing so well that I stayed for 3 months in the end, winning the player of the month awards in October and November. In total, I made 14 appearances and scored 1 goal.
When I returned to the club in the January, Mark told me that I could leave. It hurt at the time because I had given everything for Stevenage and now it had come to an end but I understood that I didn’t fit into his plans. When I look back now I’m pleased I left when I did. Overall I made over 150 appearances and scored 15 goals and I’m proud to have captained the club during that time”.
|Place of Birth||Hillingdon|
|Nick Name||“I didn’t really have a nickname (unless the lads called me something I didn’t know about)! Mostly it was ‘Jay’/‘Gooders’ or ‘Skip’”|
|Boro Career||2001/2002, 2002/2003, 2003/2004, 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2006/2007|
|Boro Shirt Number||5 ( no3 for the first season)|
|Superstitions||“When we won a football match or I had a particularly good game I would always want to wear the same pants again for the following game. This would obviously continue for a long period of time when we were on a good run. By the end of the season I was often ‘swinging’ as they had worn out but I just couldn’t bring myself to change them”.|
|Influence on career||“My mum and dad. They always encouraged me to be the best I could, to never give up, to win and lose with dignity and not to have any regrets.My dad has watched me wherever I have played home or away. I remember him travelling to places like Morecombe, Halifax, and Telford etc. He even came to Italy when I made my debut for England (along with my wife, 2 uncles, 2 brothers and 2 brothers in law!) He’s always been there to talk through games with and offer advice when I’ve needed it”.|
Jason signed for Rushden and Diamonds until the end of the 2006/2007 season, making 7 appearances for the club. “I didn’t like the place from the minute I got there. Everything just felt so false and I couldn’t wait to leave. I had become a bit disillusioned with it all to be honest. I had only played for two clubs in 14 seasons and now suddenly I had played for 3 clubs in 4 months!
Next port of call for Jason was AFC Wimbledon “I didn’t want to start moving from club to club and that’s when I decided to go and join AFC Wimbledon for the 2007/2008 season. Terry Brown had just taken the manager’s job there and I knew straight away that’s where I wanted to play.
I dropped down two leagues to the Ryman Premier but was getting bigger crowds than anywhere I had played before, it was unbelievable. They were so passionate to just have a football club to support and fortunately they took to me straight away.
I managed to captain them to two promotions in my two seasons there (Ryman League 07/08 and Blue Square South 08/09), winning the player of the year in my first season. I remember playing a top of the table clash v Chelmsford in the Blue Square South, I think the crowd was 4,900 capacity and there were about another 600 fans locked out. The atmosphere was electric. I had a great time at AFC Wimbledon, the supporters appreciated me for the kind of player I was and I had a great relationship with them.
In total, I made 69 appearances and scored 4 goals in my two seasons at AFC. When we got promotion to the Conference, I was 34 and it was the right time to leave as they were looking to go full-time”.
After leaving AFC Wimbledon, Jason moved to Sutton United, making 57 appearances in total, finding the net 4 times in the process “I signed for Sutton United for the 2009/2010 season. The manager, Paul Doswell was ambitious and I knew as soon as I met him that I would enjoy playing for him.
After a slow start we finished the season really strongly and finished 2nd in the Ryman Premier to Dartford, but unfortunately we lost in the play-offs to Kingstonian.
I had been struggling with my knee again and had another operation. When I came back for the start of the following season 2010/2011, it still wasn’t feeling great. It was becoming harder and harder to recover after games and after one particular game when I managed to dislocate my jaw I was left thinking whether I should still be putting my body through it.
I had a talk with the ‘Dos’, he wanted me to carry on for a while but I had made my mind up and took the decision to retire at the age of 36. I had spent so much of my career trying to lead by example and demanding the same high standards from others but I was now struggling to reach those levels myself and I found it quite an easy decision in the end”.
Following Jason decision to retire from playing, coaching and management was next on Jason’s to do list.
“When I left Sutton I received a number of calls asking me to carry on playing. I had to explain over and over that if I could play I’d still have been at Sutton but I just couldn’t play anymore.
I received a call from Boreham Wood asking whether I’d be interested in becoming an Assistant Manager. They had been promoted to the Blue Square South and were struggling at the foot of the table with only 1 win from 13 games.
I got on really well with Ian Allinson and we managed to steer them to 14th. At the start of the following season a few things happened behind the scenes that I wasn’t particularly happy with and I decided to leave.
I then received a call from Dave Anderson who was manager at Harrow Borough, in the Ryman Premier League. He offered me the Assistant Manager’s role and I decided to join him. They were in the bottom 3 when I joined them but we managed to steer them away from the relegation zone. It is always going to be a struggle at Harrow due to finances but we managed to finish 15th this season with a strong finish.
Dave allows me the freedom on the training pitch and the dressing room to express myself, put my ideas across and also learn the financial side of things. It has been great working with someone of his experience and I’ve enjoyed my time there so far.
I’m keen to progress up the ladder and feel I’m capable of coaching/managing at a higher level. I’m taking my coaching badges, which are necessary to give me those opportunities but I recognise that the vital ingredient is experience which is why I’ve not been in any hurry to get there.
When Jason was asked as to who he would model his management style on he commented “I’ve been extremely lucky to have played for some of the most successful managers in Non-League history. If you look at the CV’s of the likes of Terry Brown, Paul Fairclough, Graham Westley and Mark Stimson you will do extremely well to find anyone with more success than them.
There will be things, good as well as bad, from my experiences of being on a training ground, in a changing room, in the dugout or on the playing pitch throughout my playing career that will be taken into my coaching/managerial career as it develops. I have my own beliefs on how things should be done, both on and off the pitch, and I’m sure there will be certain aspects from all of the managers I have worked for that will be valuable to me”.
Back at Boro again!
As the history website was completing the interview with Jason, news broke that Jason was returning to the club as 1st team coach.
The announcement on 13th May 2013 on the official website ended with a sentence that sums Jason up “ His experience, desire and winning mentality is a perfect fit with the existing management team as they prepare for the season ahead “
Jason commenting to the history website said following his appointment “it all happened very quickly it’s great to be back – I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to work alongside Graham and Dino and I am really looking forward to the season ahead”.
The history website would like to thank Jason for all the time and effort that he put into the interview – it is greatly appreciated.
Welcome home Jason – it’s great to see you again in Boro colours!