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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

It's All Been A Really Good Journey Said Oates


Former Hereford FC captain Jimmy Oates, pictured scoring against Winchester, has been talking about his football career which started in Australia over ten years ago.

However it was a series of injuries that led him to come to England and eventually full time football with Exeter City.

“We had a Cup match against Fulham at Craven Cottage, that was my first match for the club,” Oates told The World Game.

“I was thinking back three years ago I was playing at some almost Sunday League teams, and then a few years later playing at Craven Cottage. It was pretty massive for me. It was special.

“I’m just soaking it up as much as I can and keep moving forward.”

Oates recalls how he came to England.

"I picked up a stress fracture in my ankle in the last week of the Mariners’ pre-season. I had some other injuries in my calves so I pretty much had to move back home,” the 27-year-old explained.

“I was out for six months before I was even jogging. It just wrote off that season. It was definitely hard to take. It’s your dream to get that first deal and moving on from there, but it wasn’t to be.

“After I left the Mariners I moved back to Manly United for a year to sort of sort myself out. Then I got the offer to come to England to play and study with Hartpury University.

“The head of football there I’d played with at Manly, he offered me a scholarship to go over there and play.

“They’ve got a full-time program set up there so it was an ideal place to go, travel, play and study. So I came over with no real expectations, because I’d had so many problems with injuries I just wanted to do my degree, which was in strength and conditioning.

“Then get playing again and see what happens. My degree was a three-year degree and in my second year Hereford FC came in and asked me to play for them.”

So what about Hereford?

“They were a Phoenix club, they rebuilt themselves from the bottom up,” Oates said.

“They started down at a pretty low league, the ninth tier of English football. I was there for three seasons and we got three promotions in a row. It was a pretty good time.

“We only lost five or six league games in three years. It was a good thing to be part of.

“In my third year I captained the side and we went on to get promoted, win the league and set the record for that league. In the summer, last year, I got a call from an ex-manager of mine at Hartpury University, Matty Taylor, who just got the job at Exeter.

“He asked if I wanted to come in on trial for a few weeks during pre-season. I must have done pretty well and they offered me a contract here. That was a pretty epic moment.

“Coming over here I didn’t have any expectations, but in the back of my head it was a dream to play professional football. It was a big accomplishment of mine.”

Oates played for Hereford in an FA Vase Cup final at Wembley.

“That was amazing, my first year at Hereford. We’d won that league and went to Wembley to play in the FA Vase final,” he said.

“That was incredible. I think Hereford took about 30,000 fans, which was pretty much the whole city. Unfortunately we got smashed 4-1.

“We scored in the first few minutes and we just got complacent I guess. They got one back just before half-time and went on to smash us. But the day was unbelievable and playing on that pitch was crazy.”

Oates still awaits his league debut for Exeter but has played in several cup games.

“It’s been really good, getting back into full-time training,” he said.

“It’s taken a little bit to get used to and to get used to fatigue and the mental side of it, that’s probably been the biggest struggle really. But I’m loving it, the boys have been awesome.

“I’ve played five or six Cup matches. I picked up a little injury early on but the body’s holding up well at the moment."

Finally on his time in English football.

"I’m happy to be over here now. It’s all been a really good journey.”