One Man’s Odyssey through the Lower Leagues of English Football
‘Football is a game of lows punctuated by a few highs.’ – Gordon Strachan
Ben Smith, professional footballer. Recognise the name? Of course you don’t. That’s because most of Smith’s seventeen years in the game were spent outside the vaunted, big-money environs of the Premier League, and this unique sporting memoir is all the richer because of it.
1995, and a young man named Ben, with a dream of playing professional football, arrives at the training ground of one of England's biggest clubs to begin his journey. Aged just sixteen, he shares pre-season sessions with the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright at Arsenal. Surely his career can only go one way from here? The next seventeen years duly see him descend from Highbury to obscurity in a career that involves seasons playing for Reading, Yeovil, Weymouth, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Southend, Crawley, Kettering and Sudbury AFC, and features three promotions, one relegation and some very memorable FA Cup games.
Smith candidly describes the contract negotiations, the insecurities, the fear and realities of injury, the house moves, the impact on his personal life, the wet Saturday afternoons playing in front of 500 people, and the many teammates, opponents and managers who left an indelible mark on his career.
This is the memoir of a quintessential journeyman footballer. Honest, intelligent, brutally unsentimental and often hilarious, forget The Secret Footballer and the usual ghosted life stories of pampered Premiership stars; Journeyman offers a real insight into what it is like playing season after season, with no financial safety net, in the unfashionable far reaches of the English game.
Ben Smith enjoyed a seventeen-year career as a professional footballer at clubs including Arsenal, Reading, Yeovil, Hereford, Crawley, Shrewsbury, Weymouth, Southend and Kettering. He has successfully studied for a degree in management, as well as attaining his UEFA football coaching badges. This is his first book.