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INTERVIEW: Nothing else on my mind other than getting it sorted

Jamie Devitt on contracts, goals and pushing on from here

2 September 2022

Manager Paul Simpson called it as a no-brainer, the player himself called it as a no-brainer, and the fans spent a fair bit of their time talking about it as being a no-brainer … so it probably was indeed a no-brainer when attacking midfielder Jamie Devitt was offered (and signed) his new one-year deal at the end of July.

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Devitt, 32, had returned to Brunton Park on a short-term deal during the January 2022 transfer window and was invited back to train with the Blues once again ahead of the 22/23 campaign kick-off, with him having ridded himself of a troublesome hamstring injury.

No stranger to the Cumbrians he bagged 22 goals in 130 appearances in a three-year stay between 2016 and 2019, and he opened his account this time round with a volleyed finish in the Papa Johns Trophy encounter with Manchester United’s U21 side on Tuesday night.

“I didn’t realise Tuesday was my first competitive 90 minutes in a long time, so it was good to be out there,” he told us. “I obviously love playing football, so it was great to be involved in a game again.

“It was nice to get on the scoresheet but it was just a poor result. We spoke about it afterwards, which you have to do, and it’s important that we move on now.

“I think you go into every game saying that you’re going to win, and at least hoping that you’re going to win, and everything around that game was done properly. It’s just one of those things. They had some really good players and it wasn’t our night.

“The thing now is that I don’t think we can let it affect us. You go back through the game and look at what was done wrong and right, but we can’t dwell on it too much. We need to look forward to the next game and the good thing is that there’s a really positive feel around the place.”

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“Personally I felt really good for getting a full game,” he added. “I woke up on Wednesday morning and I was thinking, hang on, I don’t feel like an old man here. I felt quite good.

“I said before, I love playing football and it was enjoyable being out there. We were having a bit of a laugh down at Grimsby because I started there then that happened with the weather.

“In the dressing room and on the bus we were saying that it just about summed up my luck. These things happen so all I’ll do is keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get picked again soon.”

A player renowned for doing that work with a smile on his face, but also with an extremely serious edge, he confirmed that securing a contract with the Blues in the summer had been his sole focus.

“There was nothing else in my mind other than trying to impress and get it sorted,” he told us. “When it was offered there was only ever one thing that was going to happen.

“I was buzzing when we got it done. I knew come the end of the season that it wasn’t just going to be a case of – there you go, there’s a deal – because of the situation I was in back then.

“I hadn’t proved my fitness, so it was down to working hard over the summer. I think we told people that I got quite ill over the summer, so when I came back I was probably playing catch-up a little bit.

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“Being honest, that was quite worrying, but I have to say that it was proper hard work that we were made to do in pre-season. The good thing is that it was really enjoyable and I feel good for it now.

“Look, I love this club, as everyone knows, so through all of those sessions my aim was to get the contract. The week in Largs was quite tough, and the game against Livingston was a good one, but the weather that day was like a dead heat.

“There was no sun as such, but you couldn’t catch your breath and that made it tough going. Playing 90 minutes in that one gave me real confidence and I haven’t looked back since.”

Clearly comfortable with his lot – just what is it about Jamie Devitt and Carlisle United that flicks all the switches?

“I honestly couldn’t tell you,” he replied. “I think the first year I was here it didn’t go quite as good as we thought it would. I remember saying in an interview at the time that if I’d only had a one-year contract I probably wouldn’t have been offered another one at that point.

“Thankfully I had a two-year deal and everything really feel into place the next season. I’d moved up to the area and there was so much positivity around town, and everyone I met was really nice with me and my family.

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“I don’t know, I honestly can’t put a finger on why it is, but I just love being here. When the gaffer spoke to me in the summer about coming back and training, there was only one answer as far as I was concerned.

“To be fair to him, he did say that he wouldn’t get in the way if anything from another club came in, but I didn’t want to speak to any other club. I wanted to come back here and prove myself.

“And the reaction from the fans, there’s no better feeling. I don’t know what the word is for how it feels when you know the supporters have got your back. It’s just great.”

And the manager went a step further in his press briefings with open praise for a player who adds character and personality, not just footballing ability, to a blossoming group.

“As a player you want to be wanted and the first conversation he had with me told me a lot,” he commented. “He wanted to make sure that me coming in wasn’t just because I get on with everybody, or things like that.

“He wanted me to come in because I’m going to make an impact. That was a big thing for me because I didn’t want to just be here and look like I was enjoying it even if I wasn’t playing.

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“I can’t enjoy it properly when I’m not playing, that’s how I am. You’ll see me around the place, I’m quite positive, but when I’m not playing it does hurt me. My aim is always to get in the team and stay there.”

“The other bit of this is that it is a great group of players,” he continued. “I didn’t have a contract up in Largs, but even then I was made to feel part of it.

“We are a really tight group, and we got together I don’t know how many times up in Scotland and we literally just had a laugh.

“We played a game of cards that’s called Wolf, I think it is, and there’s no money involved or anything like that, it’s just purely about having a bit of fun.

“The manager saw it on one of the nights up there and I think he really enjoyed it. Every single member of the squad was part of it and we had a great time, which obviously helps everyone to get to know each other.

“The serious side of it is that we all want to achieve something this year. The feeling around the club and in the dressing room is that we want to achieve something, and we actually feel like it’ll be a failure if we don’t.”

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Having had a horrible run of luck with injuries, the hope is that it’s now behind him and that a clear run at this season is ahead.

“I don’t want to tempt fate by saying it’s done, but I am feeling really good,” he said. “The manager was really happy with all of the stats the other night, and with all of the injured lads back or nearly back there’s huge competition.

“Everybody is being pushed by whoever it is that isn’t starting, because we all want the shirt. That has got to be good for the gaffer.

“He actually spoke to me before the season kicked off and he said that I might not be a guaranteed starter, and my reaction to that was to say, well, that’s up to me.

“If he puts me in the team it’s down to me to keep that place. I keep saying, I don’t just want to be part of the squad, I want to be contributing every week. I’m here to make a difference.

“I’ve sort of played a different position under the manager, in probably more of a holding role than an attacking one, but he moved me more forward at half-time on Tuesday.

“I love creating and scoring goals and hopefully there’ll be a few more to come. Next up for us all is Rochdale and I think it’s important we do bounce back from Tuesday.

“We want the winning feeling and we want to make this place here proper tough for visiting teams to the point where they don’t want to come.

“It’s down to us to make it that way. We have had a good home record so far and I think we need to keep that going.”

In conclusion, looking longer-term, he said: “I’m 32 now and I’d love to just stay here now until I’m finished and see what happens.”

And that’s not a bad place to end.

Click HERE to watch an interview with Jamie Devitt on iFollow United now.

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