#WFC1982 – Richard Jobson & Burton Albion FC

Pre-Season Friendly
Burton Albion FC v Derby County FC
Tuesday, 29th July 2013, 7.30pm
Pirelli Stadium
Entrance £10, Programme £1, Car Park £2
Distance (from Vicarage Road) 118 miles, Attendance 3743
There’s a polished glow about the Pirelli Stadium. A venue that Watford are yet to experience; it’s a well constructed, colour-coded, proper four-sided arena, with very hospitable staff. Three sides are pleasantly safe standing, the other an impressive stand with corporate facilities.
After a lengthy drive up, and being turned away from St George’s Park because Barcelona were in town – “It’s impossible. They don’t want anyone coming in.” said the name-checking gateman – the much shorter drive up the Derby Road brought a more welcoming conversation.

140729 PSF Burton Albion v Derby County (32)w

140729 PSF Burton Albion v Derby County (49)wGranted there was some curiosity as to why a Watford fan would travel up for this friendly – even the affable John Eustace questioned my motives after completing his warm-up – but having pulled in the entrance, life couldn’t have been simpler.
Across Princess Way from the their former home Eton Park – redeveloped for housing, with road names such as Clough Drive – sits a spacious car park encircling the modern stadium. Circumnavigating the venue, I found reception and introduced myself. Collecting my pass and bib, I went upstairs, grabbed a much needed coffee from the press area, almost bump into Craig Ramage and, made my way outside.
Once we’d considered the forecast rain – no, McClaren wasn’t with brolly; he did however have a magnetic board with some primary school counters on – talk from all moved to seasonal optimism. Whilst naturally concerned with George Thorne’s injury, Rams’ photographers were more than content that Eustace could cover. Probably failing to hide my complete envy that we’d even sold him, I sloped off to mingle in the crowd before kick-off.
140729 PSF Burton Albion v Derby County (153)Hinting at the long history of the Bass Charity Vase, “Welcome to this annual event” yelled the announcer. To common approval, line-ups were broadcast, players appeared and after brief formalities, we were off. Brewers’ fans encouraged their heroes to shoot on sight; County’s wanted more patient play from theirs.
140729 PSF Burton Albion v Derby County (116)wWhat all got was an even and entertaining encounter. Derby had the upper hand in the first period, scoring what would be the winning goal just prior to the interval, as Jeff Hendrick headed home when a 25 yard free kick fortunately cannoned off the crossbar into his path. Derby again hit the woodwork soon after the restart but – just edging proceedings – Burton’s Dominic Knowles dipping volley went agonisingly close in the dying minutes. In between, both sides showed good commitment and had fine efforts blocked; Robbie Weir and Knowles had the best for the Brewers.
Though the visitors stood mainly behind one goal, on both sides of the ground supporters mixed both amiably and freely. As with the players, this togetherness really was the theme of the night and, at the end of the amicable evening, fans seemed to depart equally contented.
140729 PSF Burton Albion v Derby County (197)wEven though Eustace’s name was greeted with an incredulous cry of “How old is he?” there had been plenty of mutual appreciation for those on show. The Derby line-up was very stable however, using subs to the full, Burton demonstrated they have a good new crop of youngsters coming through. Thirty two years ago, another such Burton youngster to enjoy the pre-season accolades was Richard Jobson.
East Midlands journalist, Rex Page described then Jobson “Mostly deployed as a wide midfielder… he had pace, skill, aerial ability and strength.”
Having however not made the grade at a number of trials (that offered no feedback) Jobson headed off to a Civil Engineering degree in Nottingham. Thinking he’d “missed the boat” he played recreational football whilst focusing on academia. Richard explained, “Studying was my priority as unlike now; clubs only used to take on 1 or 2 players. It was very difficult to get spotted, as the scouting networks weren’t as comprehensive as they are currently.”
Richard went on “When I returned home from my 1st year at Nottingham Uni to Burton, the Reserve Manager at Burton Albion [Ken Carvell] asked me if I fancied doing some pre-season training with them.” With little thought of anything more, he went along “just to keep fit” before returning to college.
Demonstrating that undoubtedly his life aspiration had altered he explained, “I went back to Uni in October and had to be persuaded by the club to return home to play at weekends.” As it turned out, after just over a dozen games with the Eton Park outfit, Jobson was transferred five levels up the pyramid.
Recognising Jobson’s ability, then Brewers’ boss Neil Warnock contacted managers he knew. Whilst Forest reportedly showed some interest, Warnock instead steered his protégé towards Hertfordshire. Richard had clearly benefitted from those about him at Burton – in the short run in the first team – however the speed of his ascendancy was phenomenal. Page told me that Warnock said at the time: “When Richard came into my side he still had things to learn, but you only had to tell him once. He had massive talent and went from trialist to our best player in a matter of weeks.” Of the transfer Richard added “His assistant John Ward watched me in one game, then Graham Taylor in another game and then they made an offer which Burton Albion accepted.”

albion 1982-83w

Revealing more Page added, “Taylor came up to Burton to watch Richard only once and, saw him rip the opposition apart. The deal was concluded very quickly! At 7.40 the next morning, Warnock rang Jobson and asked where he could pick him up, to take him to Watford. He signed at five minutes to midnight the same day.”
Though his father wasn’t too keen for Richard to quit university before graduating, his son had no such hesitation. “It was a dream come true to play professionally, especially in the top division.” Whilst Richard would eventually go on to make fourteen first team appearances that season, for the Hornets – scoring just once against Luton – six weeks after leaving the Northern Premier League, Jobson was a “very nervous” substitute in Watford’s first ever trip to Anfield.
Fortunately even without Jobson, Warnock steered Burton to third Northern Premier League. They also, Rex told me,  won the NPL Challenge Cup; their first trophy in more than two decades.
Now an Assistant Cheif Executive at the PFA, prior to the Derby match, Richard told me that he was responsible for twenty two clubs. It wasn’t a stadium that he actually played in but given the management continuity – Ben Robinson was chairman in his day too – and their pride in being a well run outfit, it is a club Richard is very happy to visit as part of his role.
Whilst he may never have finished his degree – “Watford made enquiries for me to continue the course on a part-time basis at North London Poly but it didn’t fit in with training etc” – Richard explained that the PFA now “spend a lot of time, effort and money re-educating and training current and former players through the PFA’s Education Fund. Many of them take coaching courses. They always need a plan B.”
Interestingly Rex Page told me that Kevin Murphy, Richard’s senior school PE teacher, said: “Right through school, Richard was always an outstanding player and I think he just needed someone to believe in him.”
140729 PSF Burton Albion v Derby County (67)It’s pleasing at any time to hear that former Hornets are revered elsewhere. Tonight Callaghan, Eustace, Forsyth, and Ramage were all spoken highly of, however (as Page summarised) “very few, if any players, have broken through at Burton and had such a major impact in such a short space of time”. Fortunately for Jobson – like the youngsters in their side tonight – Burton Albion showed faith in him at an early age, before he really had missed the boat.
Final score: Burton Albion FC 0-1 Derby County FC
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Because these articles are initially appearing in the 2014-15 Watford FC matchday programmes, they will consequently have a delayed publication on here.
Richard Jobson programme (1)   Richard Jobson programme (2)
This entry was posted in #WFC1982, 2014-2015, pre-season friendly and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to #WFC1982 – Richard Jobson & Burton Albion FC

  1. NLFG says:

    Reblogged this on Nathan Lowndes, Football Genius and commented:
    Nice story, this

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