Lowry on rise to professional game and dealing with injury

Lowry on rise to professional game and dealing with injury

Lowry on rise to professional game and dealing with injury

Newquay’s Jamie Lowry in action for Plymouth Argyle during the 2012–13 season

24th March 2021

By Tom Howe

In January 2013, Newquay-born right-back Jamie Lowry made the 143rd and final appearance of a six-year professional football career that was cruelly curtailed by injury. Today, he is responsible for passing his knowledge and experience onto the next generation of young footballers in the West Country.

The Lowry family name is synonymous with sport in the local area. Son of Mick and Ann, Jamie and brother Phil would be found, nine times out of ten, kicking a football around and their passion helped launch the now thriving Newquay Youth.

Mick, working with Derek Martin amongst others, helped launch the career of a whole generation of footballers in the town and their influence remains today, with 19 of Newquay’s 20-strong squad coming from within the locality.

Jamie’s is just one of a number of success stories. Having been recommended to Chesterfield by his grandfather, who lived in Derbyshire, a period of work experience resulted in a successful youth scholarship at a Football League club he would go on to represent on 122 occasions.

“Every single moment of the day was spent playing football,” said Lowry, who celebrated his 34th birthday last week. “That is one of the things I try to pass on to younger players I am coaching, you have to be obsessed with football to stand a chance of getting better. Derek [Martin] was a big influence on my career when I was younger at Newquay and, obviously, my dad was too. With my brother, we were constantly playing football with our friends at the Sports Centre or up at Tretherras School, just playing football non-stop.

“My grandad knew the chairman [at Chesterfield] and I went up there when I was in year ten for work experience. I trained with the youth team who were a lot bigger and older than me. It was an unbelievable experience. The youth manager at the time asked when I finished school, would I like to come back up on trial and see how it goes? I took the opportunity and the day I went into the office and was offered a scholarship for the youth team is one I will never forget.

“I had my grandparents up there and my dad’s brother and sister so I had lots of family. It wasn’t too bad but it was tough being away from mum, dad and friends. I had to start again and make new friends there but the lads were really good. I was just happy playing football every single day. Some people can get too obsessed with I need to do this or I need to do that, but I wanted to play football and enjoy it with a smile on my face. That can take you a long way.

“My three years in the youth team were massive. We won the Youth Alliance League in my final year with the youth team. I remember all the silly things really. Long hours of practicing, cleaning the manager’s boots and the changing rooms. It was such a good grounding and foundation. It gives you values and morals to build on when you either make it pro or go on to your next step.”

Under the management of Lee Richardson, Lowry came off the bench to make his professional debut in a League Cup tie against Premier League side West Ham United in the October of 2006.

In front of 8,000 supporters at Saltergate, a 19-year-old Lowry found himself up against international stars such as Rob Green, Danny Gabbidon and George McCartney, while trying to keep Marlon Harewood, Bobby Zamora and Nigel Reo-Coker quiet in his defensive capacity.

It worked, as Caleb Folan’s strike three minutes from time saw the Spireites secure a memorable 2-1 win over Alan Pardew’s charges.

“To be offered a two-year deal after my scholarship was incredible,” continued Lowry. “It was a dream come true to become a professional footballer. I was on the bench when we played West Ham in the Carling Cup third round. The right-back at the time, Alex Bailey, was a really good friend and really supportive. He helped me develop a lot in the role which is where I played when I came through.

“He had a little injury in the week and that is why they put me on the bench. He broke down in the 60th minute so I got the nod to go and play. It was live on Sky and was a sell-out against a Premier League team so there were a few butterflies but once I had the first touch of the ball my nerves settled and it felt like any other game really.

“It was a dream come true. We talk about it now with the youngsters we are coaching. Playing any level of professional football is an achievement. Millions and millions of kids dream about it and to represent that club was fantastic. They were really supportive of me.

“Being a professional footballer is everything and more that you have dreamed of. You don’t realise what it is like as a kid. Playing in front of thousands of fans and people singing your name, that experience and those moments in life are something I will always cherish and look back fondly upon.”

Lowry began the 2009-10 season in electric form but, come October, ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during training. He wouldn’t make another professional appearance for some 16 months.

“It was really difficult. I was going to be 23 that season and I had started really well, scoring seven goals in 14 games. Just out of the blue in training, there was nobody really near me, but I hyperextended my knee and ruptured my cruciate ligament.

“That was the first real, proper injury I ever had. Looking back now and reflecting, I didn’t really know the extent of the injury or what it would take. It was a really, really difficult time and I had some complications. I had [the knee] restructured again two weeks after the first operation and had to have two more smaller operations after that – four knee operations in two or three months.

“I had quite a few setbacks and problems. That made a difficult journey even worse but that is football and that is life. It definitely changed me as a person and my physical ability. I had quite a lot of energy and was quite quick but this knocked me back a couple of yards in terms of pace and I had to adapt my game.

“I never felt the same as I did before which is why it came to an end pretty early.”

Upon his return, Lowry admitted he ‘didn’t feel himself’ and, despite a handful of appearances off the bench, couldn’t break his way back into John Sheridan’s League Two championship-winning team.

The following season, Lowry dropped back into League Two where he played ten games on loan at Crewe Alexandra.

He started to pick up a bit of form, returning to the Chesterfield squad for their Football League Trophy northern area final second-leg win over Oldham Athletic. However, he didn’t feature in the Spireites’ win over Swindon Town at Wembley a month later and was released at the end of the season.

A permanent transfer to Crewe appeared to be on the cards before further knee problems were highlighted during a medical examination.

Touching down for a holiday in Barbados - a chance to get away from it all - Lowry received a phone call from Argyle first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell. Little did the pair know at the time, that particular call would play such a pivotal part in shaping Lowry’s future.

Next week, Lowry discusses his season at Plymouth Argyle and subsequent departure from the professional game, his return to grassroots football and player-management with hometown club Godolphin Atlantic and his new role bringing through the next generation at Home Park.