James Gorfin spent the week as a member of John Askey’s squad putting himself through sprint drills, shooting practice, short-sided matches and whatever else the players have to endure in pre-season
Who among us hasn’t watched a game of football and thought ‘I could do better than this shower’?
Well, James Gorfin used to be one of those people, but now he’s had a week as a professional footballer he’s got nothing but respect for those who kick a ball around for a living.
James became Macclesfield Town’s first ‘Pay to Play’ guest against Stoke City on?Saturday, and although his substitute appearance was curtailed by injury he admits it was a brilliant, unforgettable stint as a Silkman for him.
The 40-year-old spent the week as a member of John Askey’s squad putting himself through sprint drills, shooting practice, short-sided matches and whatever else the players have to endure in pre-season.
And the icing on James’ cake was a run-out against the Potters in the club’s final friendly of the season.
“I think everyone reckons they could do better when they’re watching a game,” he said. “You think you’d have loads of time on the ball but it’s not as easy as that.
“It’s pretty mental how quick the game is, and I did get smashed by one of the Stoke lads when I got one of my passes away.”
With wife Nicky and his kitted-out sons Noah and Xavier watching in the stands James’ game even saw him close to a beautifully-delivered cross from right-back Joe Connor but a groin niggle meant he was stretching to reach the ball and that extra effort saw him limp out of the match shortly afterwards.
But his investment was money well spent, judging by James’ new-found admiration for his local club.
“Obviously I’d have loved to have got on that cross and scored,” he added. “It was a brilliant cross from the right, my eyes lit up but I couldn’t quite sprint quickly enough to get on the end of it.
“I tried to put a burst on and when I stretched, that’s when it went, I felt it straight away.
“I was pretty gutted, it would have been unbelievable if I’d got on the end of that and scored but I probably delayed my late run into the box too much, especially as I couldn’t sprint properly. I’d paused and tried to reach it and that’s when my groin went again.
“I knew straight away I’d have to come off; Pej (physio Mel Pejic) iced me up but all I can do is rest it, I’m limping around and it’s still hurting now I’m back at work.
“Mind you, a few drinks in the bar afterwards helped me to recover.”
In June the club – trying to stay afloat in the wake of recently accumulated debts – put out an offer for anyone who wanted to pay £20,000 for a place in a league game this season.
The scheme drew some controversy and the club withdrew the opportunity once the story on the front of that week’s Express had gone global, but considered offering a place in a pre-season game for a comparatively cut-price £10,000.
And when persuasive player-assistant manager Efe Sodje set his sights on a chance to bring in a few bob he wasn’t about to let it slide.
Sodje and Ryan?Atherton, who’s helping the club with the players’ nutrition and giving dietary advice, charmed James – CEO?of the G2V?Recruitment Group – into agreeing a deal for him to become a Silkman and have a run-out up front against the Premier League side.
His early exit meant James’ game time worked out at around a grand a minute – but he isn’t going to let his injury taint his day.
“I pulled my groin during training on Friday,” he admitted.
“If it had just been a five-a-side with my mates I wouldn’t have played but I wanted to have a go.
“I think a little bit of me had been trying to show that I could handle myself among these players.
“The training was hard even though I do try to keep myself fit. It was such a good week – hard work but really enjoyable.
“I sat in on the team talks and tactical planning meetings, it was great to be a part of it.
“I didn’t know how the lads would take to me coming in but I was introduced to them and they gave me a good reception, which was appreciated.
“I was especially impressed by JP (John Paul Kissock, pictured right) – right from the off he was one of the ones who really went out of his way to help me settle in, he’s a good lad and some of the tricks he was pulling out, even in training, were unbelievable.
“They were all really welcoming though, they were great with me.
“On Monday we did a lot of sprint training – that was hard – but the one that stood out for me was when we did some passing drills, I couldn’t believe how quick it was, the ball was moving around at a right speed.
“It was amazing how quickly they have to react to control it. I enjoyed the shooting drills most – once I’d got used to having the ball fired in at me at pace – but then we had an eight-a-side game, and there was no holding back in that.
“I thought they’d be taking it easy but it was pretty intense, there were a few challenges going in but John (Askey) said he thought I could handle it.
“I got a few bangs but I had to get prepared for the Stoke game; I knew I was going to get some then so I didn’t mind at all.”
And though he holds a season ticket at Manchester United James, originally from Dorset but now an?Alderley?Edge resident, says he won’t be a stranger at the Moss?Rose, adding:?“I’m back at work doing something I’m good at now but I did mention to Efe that if they ever get really short he should give me a ring – I don’t expect they’ll ever be that short though!
“I enjoyed my week as a footballer, loved it. John and Efe are good guys, it’s a really friendly club with some great people there and I hope they have a good season.
“I’ll be coming back down, definitely.”