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Interviews

INTERVIEW: I loved every minute

Midfielder Jamie Devitt on moving on to a new challenge

13 June 2019

Popular midfielder Jamie Devitt confirmed last week that he had decided to move on to a new challenge as he called an end to a three-year stay at Brunton Park which had seen him bag 22 goals in 130 appearances.

A favourite with the fans, and within the dressing room, he scooped the coveted players’ player of the year award in both of the last two seasons, complementing that accolade with a number of similar awards, voted for by a variety of fan groups.

With that in mind it will come as no surprise to learn that it hasn’t been an easy decision for the 28-year old playmaker to make as he now looks elsewhere to ply his trade.

“I think everybody knows how much I loved being in Carlisle and playing for the club, so it definitely hasn’t been an easy decision to come to at all,” he said. “From the manager to the staff who are around the place every day, they’ve all been superb.

“There isn’t one person I don’t get on with and that’s because they’ve done everything to make me feel welcome. I may only have been there for three years, but it feels like it’s become like a little family to me.

“Everybody talks to you about all kinds of things, as soon as you walk in the building, and you’re always greeted with a smiling face whichever department you go to within the club. I’m not just saying that, it really is how the people are there.

“They put everything in to making the club as good as it can be, and that’s why it was hard when I went up last week to say goodbye to everybody. Like I’ve said, and I do mean it, it’s a good place and I’ll miss a lot of the people.”

Having been offered a new deal with the club, we wondered if he’d come close to putting pen to paper before eventually deciding that it was time to look for a new direction.

“I don’t mean this in a harsh way, or anything like that, but it’s a decision I needed to make with the offer that was on the table,” he explained. “I have a little boy who is six, and another little one on the way, so when I spoke to David [Holdsworth] about it I let him know straight away that I couldn’t really sign a one-year offer.

“That was the only stumbling block, to be honest. The money side was ok, to be fair, it was just the length of the deal. I spoke to the manager on the phone and I told him the same thing. I made it clear that it wasn’t about the money, or anything like that, it was just about the length of the deal that was there for me.”

“I’ve had a lot of offers from other clubs, and they’ve been for two and three years, and with that being the case I just feel I need to look after my family first and foremost at this moment in time,” he commented. “The thing for me is that you’re only in this game for a short amount of time and you have to look after yourself and your family while you’re still involved.

“We don’t earn lots and lots of money, even though some people think we do. If you look at the likes of Bury and Bolton, their players haven’t been paid and some of them are really struggling because of that.

“It’s only a short career and that’s why the biggest thing for some players is to make sure they have a bit of security behind them. You get that with the length of the contract.”

But is he leaving with any feelings of regret?

“Look, I’ve loved every minute that I’ve been up at Carlisle,” he told us. “There’s no bitterness whatsoever towards the club now that I’m moving on because it’s a great place to be and they’ve looked after me from day one.

“I’ll have Carlisle saved on my phone so I can keep checking results and news, let’s put it that way. Hopefully they’ll be doing really well because all I have is good memories.

“Picking up the awards, voted for by the fans and the players, was unbelievable and it was really nice to get them for the past two seasons. That just tops off how good it’s been for me.

“The only real regret I have from my time at the club is that we didn’t get promoted. That was a failure in my eyes because, and with the quality of the players we had, we should have been able to get up. It’s the only thing that’s disappointing about my whole time there.”

Having notched 10 and 12 goals respectively in his last two seasons with the club, he did concede that his close relationship with the woodwork through his first season had been more than a minor source of irritation.

“The number of times I hit the post or bar through that first season was incredible,” he agreed. “It was the woodwork and everything in between for a long, long time. It got to the point where I was thinking ‘what the heck is going on here’ because decent efforts just wouldn’t go in.

“Everybody goes through spells like that at some time or other and it’s good that I can look back it now and smile about it. If the goals had been moved a foot either side through that season I’d be talking about a bag full!

“If you remember I smacked one against the post in the first game of my second season here, against Swindon, and I walked off the pitch thinking it was a case of here we go again. Luckily things got better for me after I’d finally hit the back of the net for the first time.”

And his debut at Portsmouth is another game he’ll remember ... but for the wrong reasons.

“I’d only been on the pitch 28 minutes and I was sent off,” he recalled. “It was probably the longest day of my life. I couldn’t believe it had happened to me.

“I was sat in the dressing room after getting the red card and all I could hear was 17,000 fans screaming and shouting. I had my head in my hands and it was such a horrible feeling.

“Again, let’s be honest, I don’t think I played to anywhere near the levels I feel I can get to during my first season here. The fans and the club stood by me through that and it helped me massively to have that backing, because I was concerned about the fact that I wasn’t producing what I felt I should have been producing.

“If I’d been on a one-year deal back then I’d have been shown the door, and rightly so, because my performances just weren’t good enough. I just couldn’t quite get going, and I have no idea why it was like that.

“I’m just pleased I got through it because the relationship I now have with the fans has come off the back of much better performances.”

So does he feel like he’s developed as a person and a player through his time here?

“A million percent, yes!” he said. “I’ve become a much more consistent player and that’s been shown with me hitting double figures for goals over the last two years.

“That’s something I’d never achieved before, so I’m definitely finding better levels of consistency. I owe a lot to Carlisle and to the managers I’ve worked with for that. Everybody, fans included, has stuck by me when I haven’t been playing at my best, and that’s massive for any player.”

A showreel of his goals throws up some absolute stunners, with long range thunderbolts complemented with precision strikes from free kicks which had everyone off their seats.

“Looking back, it’s probably fair to say that I’ve scored the best goals of my career so far while I’ve been at Carlisle,” he told us. “It’s all part of the reason why I leave with so many good memories.

“We’ve had good times on the pitch, I’ve made some really close friends and I’ve built up a strong bond with the supporters. That doesn’t happen everywhere you go, believe me.”

News of his departure was followed by a personal statement released on Twitter which, he admitted, brought a response which left him feeling somewhat emotional.

“When I looked at social media I was expecting to get some negativity to the statement I put out, but there wasn’t anything like that at all,” he said. “There’s been so many people getting in touch to wish me well that I can’t even reply to them all, and it’s been nice to read. I can only thank the fans for how they’ve been with me.

“I took my little lad to the cinema on the night I released the statement and I can’t even remember anything about the film. I must have written about six or seven different messages, before deleting them again, because it was really hard to put what I wanted to say into words. That’s where all my concentration was because it’s quite a big thing.”

Whatever happens going forward, one thing he does know is that his next pre-season will not be at Brunton Park, as he closes in on securing a deal at a new club in the coming weeks.

“I met up with Danny [Grainger] last week, and I see Luke Joyce every day, because he lives near me, and one of the things we all talk about is how hard it’s going to be for me not to be going back into Carlisle,” he told us. “I suppose there aren’t many of the group who got together a few years ago left up there, it’s basically a whole new team, but it will be strange not to be pulling into the car park on the first day back.

“I still don’t know what I’ll be doing next, to be fair. I’ve concentrated on having family time and time with my friends recently. It’s actually been a busy few weeks, so my head is all over the place in terms of what I’m going to do. I need to get my thinking round what clubs are saying before I make any decisions.”

If that brings him back to Brunton Park, and he finds the top corner with a thumping free kick, will that spark one of his trademark celebrations?

“I don’t think it would, no,” he concluded. “Emotions are a big thing in football, so there could be an importance attached to any goal, but personally I don’t think it’s something I’d deliberately do.”

Everyone at the club wishes Jamie all the very best as he moves on to his next challenge.


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