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Jamo's prepared to wait to be a TV star

WITH his cool dude persona and penchant for a wisecrack you would have thought that Accrington Stanley goalkeeper Jamie Speare would be a natural for TV.

JAMIE Speare ... three penalty saves have contributed to Stanley's proud record.
JAMIE Speare ... three penalty saves have contributed to Stanley's proud record.

WITH his cool dude persona and penchant for a wisecrack you would have thought that Accrington Stanley goalkeeper Jamie Speare would be a natural for TV.

A happy-go-lucky contestant on Blind Date perhaps, sashaying down a catwalk or a sharp-suited stroller on any of those other dating programmes they stick on late at night.

You might think then, that shot-stopper supreme "Jamo" would have been cursing when runaway Unibond League leaders Stanley missed out on a gilt-edged chance to feature on Satellite TV as Stanley failed to make the First Round of the FA Cup last year.

But his perfectly serious attitude towards his footballing trade shines through when he analyses the situation and says: "To be honest, it has always been an ambition to make the First Round of the FA Cup.

"But I'd rather Sky or whoever came down and featured us four or five times in the Conference next season than a fleeting visit this year."

To that end, Speare and his team-mates are looking to reproduce their early-season form and streak away from the small chasing pack again.

Away form in particular has been patchy of late but Stanley still have a clear lead and any repeat of the blistering sequence with which they began the campaign - nine straight wins - would surely leave the other aspirants trailing in their wake.

Speare feels that his team-mates have the talent to see the job through and as he is the only player on the Crown Ground books before John Coleman's arrival in the summer of 1999, he has a good sense of perspective when judging the merits of the club's playing staff.

Jamie says: "I always say that to see the difference in the place from when I came to now you only have to look at the faces on the likes of John Demaine and Frank Martindale, the directors, and of course Eric Whalley, the Chairman. It's almost like an entirely different club.

"Even Tony Black, who had a short spell with us this season and who was here before John, said he couldn't believe the way everything about the place had changed."

Jamie is as concerned as anyone about the run of mediocre away form which has threatened to unseat Stanley but he sees the threat coming from one team with one match in particular down as a huge six-pointer.

"It's no use us looking over our shoulder at teams behind us, you're just going to worry yourselves into making mistakes. I really think Vauxhall Motors are the closest contenders and we still have to play them at their place. But I look at their team man for man against ours and I'm fully confident that we can take maximum points when we play them.

"We are going to win one sooner or later away from home and that could set us off on another roll, but if we win there it could be very significant."

Jamie's agility and lightning reactions have never been more in evidence than when facing penalty kicks. He has saved three out of four this season and while that's only a small part of any keeper's repertoire, it's a handy habit to have and one which can be worth a few points a season in itself.

Jamie said: "When it comes to penalties I always say that the taker has got to beat you, not the other way around. Since the rules were amended and keepers were allowed to move a bit, we have a bit more of a chance. But you still can't do much about a well-struck one into the corner unless you've guessed absolutely right."

A bit modest, there, because I've seen Jamie save at least one well-struck one heading for the bottom corner already this season.

Jamie is impressed with the fine-tuning of the squad manager John Coleman has effected since the start of the season. Often accused of being over-loyal to players he knows and trusts from campaigns both during his Stanley years and even before, Coleman has not been afraid to tinker with a winning formula in a bid to improve it still further.

With the likes of Milke Marsh and Dean Calcutt signed pre-season, he has gradually introduced the likes of Michael Knowles, Black again, Andy Gouck and most recently, Rory Prendergast who was outstanding on debut a fortnight ago.

Jamie says: "John certainly knows a good player when he sees one. I don't think Peter Cavanagh would mind me saying that when we've played Bradford he's had plenty to think about against Deano and Rory, Robbie Williams would tell you the same too.

"John's attitude is, if they are good enough to do the job for us, why not sign them rather than let them go somewhere else? He knows the market through and through."

And even the lack of cup glamour for Jamo and pals could prove a blessing this time round.

"I think the Unibond League Cup has become a bit of a farce, even though we were glad to win it last year, but I was disappointed we didn't progress in the FA Trophy. But we will have our place in the spotlight if we achieve promotion."


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