Hamon: “I looked at it as another game of football”

Stopper reflects on a winning Football League debut

Exeter City goalkeeper James Hamon was understandably delighted to have made his Football League debut in a 3-2 win against Shrewsbury Town at St James Park.

The Guernseyman had only featured in a single first-team game beforehand for the Grecians, in City’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Coventry City.

He received the nod ahead of Christy Pym to begin between the sticks – he was twice beaten by James Collins, who first struck from distance and then netted from close-range – but ultimately played an important part in earning three points.

The former Guernsey FC stopper pulled out some critical saves throughout the fixture to keep Exeter in the game, which set the hosts on course to peg back and overturn the result through two goals by Tom Nichols and one by David Wheeler.

“It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” said Hamon.  “It was a great experience, and that second half was one of the best buzzes I’ve ever felt – let alone on a football pitch; in my life.  It was great.

“Two years ago I wouldn’t have even dreamt of being here.  I had given up playing football and I was just trying to concentrate on golf.

“To be here today has been a great experience and it’s something I’ll treasure.  You remember your League debut forever and ever, and I’m pleased it is out of the way now and it was a great three points to top it off.

“I found out that I was starting in the team-talk before – I had no idea.  I prepared like I was going to play, as I do every week, but I still thought I would be sitting on the bench.

“Tis says his bit before we get changed and go out for a warm-up, so that’s when he announced it – so I was really happy.

“I was told with not a lot of time to think about it and get nervous.  Personally I wasn’t very nervous at all – I just looked at it as another game of football.  That’s what I had in my head and what I was focused on doing.

“It was a great feeling and hopefully I’ll get that more and more in the future.  If I keep playing it would be great for me personally, and hopefully I can do my best and see where it takes me.”

Collins’ first goal came 13 minutes into the game – Hamon was disappointed that he didn’t do better with the shot from outside the area.

The Shrews striker’s second came just after the half-hour mark – this time there was little else that the stopper could have done, after having performed some heroics just to keep out James Wesolowski’s initial effort.

And he made a critical save before the break as Collins tried to turn in his third – as the striker broke the offside trap and was bearing down on goal, Hamon stayed big and made what would prove to be a hugely important save.

He revealed that he wasn’t going to let the disappointment of the first goal affect him, and went quickly banished it to the back of his mind.

“I was very disappointed [with the first goal] – it shouldn’t have gone in and it was poor from me,” admitted Hamon.

“But that’s something that happens – all goalkeepers make mistakes.  It’s something that you’ve got to get on with and move on from, and I think I did alright.  I’m not going to sit back and start kicking myself over that – it’s move on to the next now.

“For Shrewsbury’s second I just made myself big and it hit me on the chest, and unfortunately it fell to their player about six yards out, rather than a red shirt.

“But if it had been to a red shirt, it wouldn’t have been so dramatic and the second wouldn’t have been so good and we wouldn’t all be buzzing like we are now.  So everything happens for a reason – the second half was a great performance from the lads and we got what we deserved.

“It’s what we practice [for the one-on-one] – Mel [Gwinnett] always says make yourself big and make them beat you, so that was what I was focused on doing.

“When he came through I was just thinking ‘stand up and if it hits me, it hits me’ – luckily it hit my right foot and stuck between my legs and I managed to grab it.  I like making saves – it’s what I’m there for.”

For the most part, Hamon was a bystander in the second period as his outfield colleagues turned the screw against the Shrews.

Nichols netted within seconds of the restart, Wheeler rose to guide in a cross after the hour-mark, and then Nichols struck again in the first minute of added time to complete a turnaround.

He continued: “That was probably the best half of football I’ve seen since I’ve been here from the lads.  It was a great team performance.

“I didn’t have much to do but I still had to stay focused and stay in the game, keep organised and talking to your back four.  It was just a great feeling to snatch it late on.”