Jonny Howson Interview
Morley-born professional footballer Jonny Howson sights kicking a football about on the sidelines of his brother's games for Churwell Lions amongst his first footballing memories.
The 26-year-old himself went on to play for the Lions, before being scouted for the Leeds United youth system and playing 193 games and captaining the Elland Road side.
A January 2012 transfer window move saw him join Norwich City to play in the Barclays Premier League and he's near approaching 100 appearances for the Canaries so far.
Jonny still has his shirt from his playing days with Churwell Lions
We spoke to Jonny about his time with Churwell Lions.
What is your earliest memory of having a football at your feet?
It was when my brother used to play football for Churwell as well. I was a few years younger than him and technically used to go and watch him, but I'd play on my own by the side of the pitch.
When they were training they'd let me join in from time to time. But that's probably my earliest memory playing on the pitch of the side.
What age did you start playing for Churwell Lions and how did you hear about them?
My brother Daniel was playing for them and then when I was old enough I joined when I was about six or seven. So it was through my brother really.
Did you play and were you any good at any other sports as a child?
I played all sorts of sport when I was younger, especially then going into secondary school. It was the usual school sports, a bit of rugby, but football was always the one - I never played for any other clubs, the main thing I was interested in was football.
Do you remember your coach/coaches at Churwell?
Tony Makin was my coach, he was the first and only one I had at the time. He was there for a few years and was one of the dads of the players I played with. We were all really close together and he set us up to what we were.
How did he help you with your development?
I suppose it's the first step on the ladder, it's where you first start learning about football. I suppose if it was any different I wouldn't be where I am now.
It's all different pieces of a jigsaw which all add together and it's where I first started getting into football. It was a good group of people to play with, a good group of lads I got on with, and I enjoyed it and we had a good coach as well.
What was the best piece of advice you remember being given at Churwell?
Looking back at it and what I'd pass on now is to enjoy it. That's the thing I remember and look back on it now with enjoyment. I really enjoyed my time there.
Did you always play in midfield as a child or did you try out any other positions?
I actually used to be a striker, and it wasn't actually until I got into the first team at Leeds did I play midfield. Sounds a bit strange but up until reserve team football I used to play as a striker - sometimes I'd play just in-behind the striker, but the central midfield position I play now I didn't play until the first team at Leeds.
Jonny collecting a Winners Trophy at a football Gala
What was important to you/what is important to children in general when training/playing for a junior club?
I think it's just enjoying it at that age. Whatever you do, whether it's sport or anything in life you need to enjoy it. If you enjoy it you'll get the best out of it and you're going to do the most with it.
A lot is said about grassroots football and developing children, but for me they've got to enjoy it. If they don't there's no point in doing it in a way.
Is there any game you remember for Churwell in particular that stands out in your head?
There's one that sticks out a little bit as I scored a hat-trick! We were playing against Farsley Celtic in a summer tournament in a final where I think we won 4-3. I suppose it stands out a little bit as there were two lads playing for Farsley who I ended up being at Leeds with in the youth team, and then winning it, it stands out a little bit. I scored a free-kick winner to make it 4-3!
Do you still keep in touch with any of your team-mates from your playing days with the Lions?
Yes, probably two of my closest friends I have today I used to play with - that's Daniel 'Curly' Thackray and Mark McDermott. One of them was an usher at my wedding and the other I'm best friends with as well. Whenever I get back to Leeds we meet up and we're always in touch now most days really, just banter and talking about football really. Certainly I've got friends for life there which I met back then. So I've got something from Churwell Lions which is more than football, I've got some very close friends.
Growing up, who was your role model/who did you look up to?
Maybe when I was a young lad I supported Leeds and probably out of the Leeds players Alan Smith was the one. He was a striker and I was a striker, but with regards to role models and who have a massive impact it has to be your parents - your mum and dad.
But looking at it and speaking about it for me it was probably my brother. He's the one who got me into it, if he hadn't played football maybe I wouldn't have. Maybe at the time you don't think about it, being a bit young, but he's the one who got me into playing. And like my parents has supported me through to today and has had a big impact on my career.
Jonny Captaining his side to Victory
You are highly thought of at Churwell Lions and a lot of younger players look up to you as an example of what can happen if you want it enough? What sacrifices did you have to make to become a professional footballer?
You have to give up a lot of things especially as you start to become a teenager, when people start to go out every Friday and Saturday night and you have to stay in because you have a game the next day. So you do have to make sacrifices, but so did my parents they took me all over the country, watching me and running me about, which I'm obviously extremely grateful for. You've got to be disciplined and you probably miss out on certain things that children and teenagers of your age can go and do.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to our players who have aspirations of becoming a professional footballer?
First and foremost you need to enjoy it. And after that practice, it makes you better. Looking back at it now I enjoyed it, I always wanted to play football. Even at school, I would wait for break time and have a kick about with my mates. Then you'd come home from school and you'd go down to the field.
Churwell have some fantastic facilities for a junior club including a 3G floodlit pitch, what were the facilities like when you played?
We used to just train at Bruntcliffe High School. We used to train up there and sometimes indoors. But to have those type of facilities now it's great - they're always going to be available to train, there's going to be no questions about the weather or frozen or waterlogged pitches. And for the children it's great and I'd say make the most of it!
Churwell Lions have produced a number of professional footballers over the years, of all different standards, have you ever played with or played against anyone that you grew up playing with or against at Churwell Lions?
As I mentioned before there was Gavin Rothery and Jonny Lund that played in the youth team who played for Farsley Celtic. Jonny Lund had to stop playing because of his dislocated shoulder and Gavin Rothery went on to Carlisle and York and I played against him when he was playing for Carlisle.
Then there was the lad Tommy Spurr who played against us who is at Blackburn now. You probably have that mutual respect and you know each other from growing up and playing against each other.
So it's nice to see players who have come a similar route to you.
Jonny with his Team mates
Churwell Lions would like to thank Jonny for his time and the Norwich City Media Team for their help in arranging this interview.
We wish you all the best in your future Career and you are more than welcome back at Churwell anytime you are up in Leeds.
Credits & Copyright : Norwich City Media Team