Rovers matchday magazine RTID caught up with defender Jamie McCombe ahead of the game against Leyton Orient.
You began your career at Scunthorpe United as a trainee. Did you play for any other teams before that?
I played in a few youth teams, such as Leeds and Barnsley, but that was the first YTS scholarship contract I did when I first turned pro.
Was professional football something you always wanted to do or was it something that just happened?
It was something I always wanted to do as from an early age me and my brother enjoyed playing football. Fortunately, we were both lucky enough to go on and play.
Who did you follow when you were younger?
I was a Sheffield Wednesday fan as a kid growing up and I used to go and watch them. When I got into the academies, we played on Saturdays so I didn’t get much chance to go. I’m still a Wednesday fan, for my sins, but I have no real alliances now.
As a centre back, who were your footballing idols when you were growing up?
We just watched a lot of football. It’d be easy for me to say Tony Adams and people like that when I was growing up, who were good. Although I played centre midfield for a lot of the time up until 16, Paul Wilson, who was then the youth team manager at Scunthorpe, said to me the only way I would play would be if I went centre back.
In your earlier career you played for Scunthorpe and Lincoln City until your move to Bristol City. Was it a big decision to move that far away from local surroundings to a new area?
No, not really. I was obviously quite young then and just ambitious and Bristol City was a team who were in the same division but were a big club. It was a big move for me and I went down there and absolutely loved it. It’s the place I probably enjoyed my football the most and I had a few good years there.
What are the highlights of your career so far?
I don’t know - there’s a lot really. I’ve been promoted a couple of times and played in seven play-off campaigns where we’ve lost. You can look at things like your debut and things like that but the main ones for me are just getting promoted and having good seasons. I really enjoyed the couple of seasons we had at Bristol when we got promoted out of this league and lost in the play off final to Hull at Wembley. That’s probably one of the highlights.
You spent time at Preston on loan last season before leaving Huddersfield in the summer. Was it a surprise when Huddersfield let you go and Doncaster came in for you?
It’s a funny one really. I was doing well at Huddersfield and we just had a change of manager. He had a way he wanted to play and at that same time I was struggling a bit with my back which may have influenced his decision but I have no hard feelings towards him. I’m just glad to be here at Doncaster Rovers, another team on the up and hopefully we can get promoted this season.
What attracted you to finally sign for Doncaster?
Well, I met the manager at the time and with his pedigree as a player and a coach and with what he did at Wrexham, he just sold the club to me. I knew a lot about Doncaster anyway, and I knew the youth team manager, Paul Wilson, from my time at Scunthorpe and I’d played here a few times. Coming from South Elmsall I knew a lot about the club, so when I found out they were interested, I couldn’t wait to come and sign to be honest. I knew Huddersfield were going to let me go so I never even thought to wait for other teams as I just wanted to come here and prove myself again at this level.
What was Dean like to play for?
He was good, he’s a good guy and he’s funny. He’s doing well so I was not surprised when Wolves came in for him. You can’t argue with their decision given what he’s done in his career. He’s serious at times but we had a laugh at times too. Now he has gone it is still a good place to be the atmosphere here is great and I’m really enjoying it here.
We’ve had a brilliant start to the season considering the uncertainty this summer. How has the season gone so far for you?
It’s gone well. At times we’ve not played great football but we’ve been getting results. The gaffer said we’ve set this team up to get out of this league. We could easily go and play tippy tappy football that people want to see but it’s not always successful, whereas, at the minute it’s working. Personally, I’ve had the injury which set me back so I’m just glad to be back in the side.
In the games you’ve played this season you’ve formed a formidable partnership with Rob Jones. What’s he like to play alongside?
Usually you have one big guy and then someone who’s smaller but he’s a good player and a good talker and I get on well with him. We’ve both played a lot of games in professional football so we know the game. He’s a good organiser so hopefully we’re good together. It was good to play alongside him at Stevenage bossing the side as joint caretaker-manager, along with Brian Flynn. He’s the sort of player that keeps you going especially when you go behind in a game.
Finally, when you’re not playing or training how do you like to relax away from the game?
Well I’ve got a two and a half year old and a seven month old so I don’t get much time for relaxing! I just like spending time with the family, taking the kids out and going for nice meals. Things like that really.