Chaplains Corner - Jack Hamilton

This week Grant Hamilton spoke to Jack Hamilton for our latest Chaplains Corner interview.


I’m going to start with a fun question. You are the director of an amazing new football film and you can choose any 3 footballers, living or dead, for the leading roles. Who would you choose and why?

I would choose Lionel Messi because I think he’s the best football player ever. Then I would pick Alan Shearer, as he is someone I looked up to when I was growing up. He also played for Newcastle and I support Newcastle. My 3rd choice would be James Maddison, who plays for Leicester. (I remember him at Aberdeen). Yes he was at Aberdeen and I like him a lot. He’s doing really well in the Premier League for Leicester.


Here’s a question I wasn’t going to ask you. How did you end up supporting Newcastle and do you ever watch them?

Yes, I was there on New Year’s Day when we got beaten 3-0 by Leicester. I’m from the Berwick area, down by Eyemouth in the Borders Region. My uncle supported Newcastle and had a season ticket and he took my dad and I to a game when I was small and I’ve supported them ever since.


Here’s an easy question for you. How have you found settling into the Queens squad?

It’s been good for me. The boys are different class with me and the gaffer, Sandy (Clark), George (fitness coach) and Gav (physio) have all been really good with me. Obviously I’ve got my car school as well; Scott Mercer and Michael Paton and others like Dan Pybus and Semps (Callum Semple) and Dobbs have all been really helpful.


How important is it to have people in the dressing room that you can talk to in confidence?

To settle into any dressing room it is really important to have people around you that you can relate to. It’s so important to find someone you can talk to and people you feel comfortable around. When you have that kind of personal support it just makes you much more relaxed in all circumstances and ultimately it helps you play better. The dressing room is a hard place if you are lonely and it would have to have a negative effect on your confidence if you were in that situation.


The first time I ever came to training and heard players talking about their ‘car school’ I remember thinking that we had a major gambling epidemic in the squad (both laugh). I was convinced that being their chaplain was going to be a nightmare!  

So moving onto my next question, you might need to think about this one. Are there special challenges faced by players on loan that other players with a contract don’t have to think about too much?

Yes; you are trying to pick up experience and develop but you also really have to impress. It’s also not just a case of impressing one management team. You have to impress the manager of your loan club so you can actually play and get good reports sent back to your original club. It can also be a challenge just settling into a new club. That isn’t as easy as people might think or say it is. Obviously, as well, you need to try and be playing. You don’t really want extended periods where you aren’t playing. You want to be out there playing and getting as much experience as you can.


From the perspective of a young player like you, what makes a good loan? When you are arranging a loan, what’s your ideal scenario?

Obviously you want to play, and to play at the highest standard you can. For me as a young guy, I want to see some development and I want to gain good experience by playing as much as I can in the first team.


You are currently on loan to Queens from Livingston so for Queens fans who may not know, what does your working week look like at the moment?

I train with Livingston every Monday; then on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I’m at Queens, with a match normally on the Saturday. Livingston sometimes train on a Wednesday or a Sunday and when they do that I will usually go and join them. It can be quite hectic but it’s good.


Do you feel like you fit in well with the group at Livingston? You don’t feel like a visitor when you go back?

No, I feel completely involved there. I’ve been at the club for a while and they are also a good bunch of boys. The management and other back room staff try to keep me connected with things and I still have to text the sport’s scientist my RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion). RPE is my own assessment out of 10 of how hard I thought a game or a training session was. I also have to send a record of how many minutes I’ve spent training and at the gym. I see everyone on a Monday and get regular texts from various people so it’s no too bad at all.


You played for Penicuik Juniors for a while after you signed for Livingston. What were the most obvious differences you remember between a junior team and a full-time professional outfit like Livi?

I came through the youth system at Livingston and in the first year of my professional contract I was loaned out to Penicuik. There was a massive difference playing in the Junior leagues. It was a tough environment and very macho. The players all have jobs and they come into training straight from work. It helped develop me as a player and toughened me up a bit. I was only 17 when I went to Penicuik.  


That last answer leads me in nicely to my next question which is - What clubs have you been loaned out to so far and can you tell me something you learned at each one?

My first loan was at Penicuik and I realised that it is a bit tougher playing in the men’s game as opposed to youth level. As a young striker I just got used to getting hit all the time (ironic laughter). After that I went to Berwick Rangers, my home team, who were still in League 2 at the time. Again it was a bit rougher than I was used to but the standard was higher and you had to be a bit sharper in your play.

After that I went to Alloa and that was a big step up for me as I was only 18 and playing in

the Championship where the standard was much higher. After playing at Alloa I then joined Queens where I am now.


I guess if you had a choice you would always prefer to play full rather than part-time football?

Definitely, yes. When I was at Penicuik and I saw builders and plumbers arriving at training in their work gear it just made me take a step back and think about what a privilege it is to just concentrate on football.


So I have a couple of easy ones to finish. What have been your best and worst moments in football so far?

My best moment is probably scoring against St. Mirren for Livingston in the Premier League on my first full-time start. It was a very good day for me.

My worst moment is probably (embarrassed laughter) getting sent off against Dundee on Boxing Day, 2018. I pushed Darren O’Dea in the shoulder and he went down holding his face and got me sent off. It wasn’t a good dressing room after that and it wasn’t a good car journey home.


Were your team mates annoyed with you or him? They were annoyed with me. The staff and the gaffer were pretty angry and I just had to learn from it (laughs nervously). That’s what happens sometimes.

(For the record: Darren O’Dea did eventually apologise and was given a 2 match ban for simulation – not that it made Jack’s day any better!)


As your loan at Queens progresses, what are your hopes for the rest of the season?

It depends doesn’t it? Obviously I’d love to stay until the end of the season and play a lot of games, score as many goals as I can and get as fit as I can. I’d then hope to go back to Livingston and play in their first team.


How long do you have left on your deal at Livingston?

This is my last year so it is very important. I hope to have a contract offer to sign before the seasons ends.


Right, I promised a couple of questions but this is definitely the last one. Which people in your life have had the biggest influence on your career so far and how did they help you?

Probably my mum and dad. My dad played football when he was younger. He was with Norwich up to the age of 16 and then he went to America to study on a scholarship. He got a bad injury over there at the age of 17 and never really played much again after that. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to football and he helped me a lot as I was growing up. He and my mum have taken me all over the country, as well as my gran and grandad. My whole family have really helped me a lot.


That’s great to hear Jack and unless you want to keep talking, I’m happy to stop here.

That’s fine by me (laughs).


Thanks for your time.