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INTERVIEW: Playing in games breeds confidence

Midfielder Jamie Devitt on a very good season

18 May 2018

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INTERVIEW: Playing in games breeds confidence

Midfielder Jamie Devitt on a very good season

18 May 2018

United midfielder Jamie Devitt spent the first part of last week clearing a space on his mantlepiece for the five Player of the Season awards he scooped up at the end of season dinner, held at the Shepherds Inn following the final game of the campaign against Newport.

The nippy wide man heads into his third season with the club in August having notched 10 goals in his 92 appearances – all 10 of those goals coming this season.

Speaking about his haul of awards, he said: “It was nice to receive them because it means a lot to be recognised for what you’ve tried to do through the season. I had to do a little speech on the night and I think everybody could tell from how bad that was that I wasn’t really expecting any of it.

“I can’t thank the fans enough for voting for me and obviously the Players’ Player award is a massive one to get. You work with these lads every day so to have them voting for you is amazing. I’d like to thank them all for doing that.”

It was a season for the 27-year-old where a goal against Colchester in October appeared to be the boost he needed, and he never looked back as he grew in confidence and became an ever-present in the starting line-up.

“It’s weird how football works,” he told us. “One week you’re not in the team and the next week you’re playing and contributing to good results. It shows everybody that you just have to keep going and doing things properly. If you do that eventually your chance will come, and you’ll be ready to take it.

“The good thing for me was that my confidence kept growing as each game went by. I was trying different things and that meant I wasn’t just stuck with doing the simple passes all the time. As more things worked it meant I found that I was pushing myself even more.

“Playing in games breeds confidence and you get to a point where you feel good with what you’re doing. I started to score a few goals as well and that was important for me.

“I remember speaking to a friend of mine from Morecambe in February, just after I’d scored for the third game on the bounce, and he asked me what my target was. I told him then that I wanted at least ten for the season, and he laughed at me as if it was going to be impossible.

“I took that as a bit of a challenge and to be fair to him he was the first to ring me to say well done when I scored my tenth goal.”

As for the pick of the bunch, he commented: “The goal at Morecambe was voted as the third best in the Goal of the Season category, but I think that was probably because it went in off the bar. That always make them look better.

“I was talking to Danny Grainger about it on the night, as the goals were being shown, and we both felt the one I got against Colchester was probably better than that one. Obviously that was also my first goal for the club, so that made it more special for me.”

Another string to the bow was deputising on penalties, a duty he admitted is one that he relishes.

“When Danny was injured we got a penalty, and I’ve always wanted to take them anyway,” he confirmed. “Having two people in the team who can take them is good, and we haven’t let the team down yet. Hopefully that will continue.

“It’s not something that really bothers me because if you make your choice and hit it right they tend to go in. I do always back myself to score from them.”

His run of 10 goals in 36 outings was preceded by a prolonged spell which saw him hit the woodwork almost every other game, before eventually breaking his duck with a slotted finish in that October away game.

“People must have thought I was aiming for the woodwork because I seemed to hit it every time I had a shot!” he joked. “It’s impossible to say just how frustrating it was because it was doing my head in. All you can do is keep going and when that first goal went in it was like a huge weight off my shoulders.

“I’m just pleased that I added to it because I always feel that I should be chipping in. My intention is to do exactly the same next season.”

The one thing missing from the season was a place in the play-off places, a target every member of the squad had set from day one of pre-season.

“It was a massive, massive disappointment that we didn’t make the top seven,” he said. “For me, it was the only other thing that could have made the season better. It would have been fantastic to have got there.

“It wasn’t meant to be and all you can do is congratulate those teams who got in there by staying the distance over the course of the season. The table doesn’t lie, and they all deserved it.

“We all want to be successful so as far as I’m concerned we have to aim to be involved at the top end when we get to this time next season. To be fair to the lads, we kept going right to the end, but we probably had too many draws at times when we really needed three points.”

“Every player who played gave it everything, even though there was talk about lads not knowing about their contracts or who the manager would be, and that shows how much players like that mean to the team,” he continued. “When lads have an attitude like that it builds a strong dressing room.

“We have to make sure we welcome the new lads in pre-season and get that going again. It’s always a strange time of year because lads you’ve worked with every day are moving on. The manager and his staff have moved on as well, and we’re all waiting to see who the new person will be.

“He will have his own ideas and we’ll all need to buy into that to help him and the club push on. We’ll all be behind him from day one because that’s what we’re about. It’s a new challenge for everybody and it’s one I’m looking forward to.”

The next few weeks, of course, are about recharging the batteries before it very quickly becomes time to go again.

“It’s going to be nice to spend time with the family and I think I owe them some of my time,” he said. “They’ve put up with my mood swings all the way through the season and that can’t be easy.

“A good holiday with them will be a nice way to thank them for what they do for me, particularly when I’m at my lowest.

“I’m sure in a couple of weeks I’ll be ready to get back to it, but at the moment I am just looking forward to a break from it all.”

Click on the play button at the top of the article to watch all of Jamie Devitt's goals from this season.

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