Jon Challinor joined Exeter City in 2005 and went on to play for two years at the club helping the Grecians to Wembley for the Play-Off Final in 2007.
He began his career with Rushden & Diamonds and went on to represent a number of clubs in England, as well as in the United States of America with Kalamazoo Kingdom. He joined City after two years with Aldershot and turned himself into somewhat of a fans favourite at St James Park.
Following his departure from the club he went on to play for the likes of Mansfield Town, Newport County and York City. The former City player spoke to Ben Strange to recall some of his first, best and worst moments…
... day at City
Well, it was the day before pre-season started and I’d met Paul Buckle out on holiday. He wanted to find out my situation and I said to wait until I returned. When I first turned up at the training ground I was like, wow, in terms of the facilities and everything that was being said about the club in terms of how it wanted to progress. The facilities at the Cat & Fiddle were second to none, especially the pitches they had. Just to have a base to call your own really sold it for me. To turn up on the first day at a base, go out and train and enjoy it was everything that I wanted.
... goal for the club
I remember that, against Dagenham & Redbridge away in a 2-2 draw. It was about seven games into the season and all I remember was cutting in from the left and having a strike. I remember the celebrations and all the comments from people saying: “About time you scored!” It was a relief to score but it was a moment I’ll never forget.
... match at St James Park
It was that far back I struggle to recall it! Even so, I used to love playing every home game because of the support the team had week in, week out, it was amazing. Thankfully, the fans took to me and even when I went back with opposing teams I got a good reception and that meant a lot to me. To this day I have fond memories of the club and the fans, it was probably one of the better times of my career.
... moment at the club
The play-of semi-final in 2007 when we played against Oxford United. We went to their place and everyone had written us off but that man Stanno (Adam Stansfield) scored and it was a night to remember. It was one of those great games and to win it in the second leg at their ground, it was just an unbelievable night.
... player you played with
In the team that we had at City we had a lot of potential. The likes of Dean Moxey, George Friend, Dan Seaborne and Matt Gill all went on to play higher. To play within the squad that we had, and I know they went on to back-to-back promotions the following year. I think that’s one of my biggest regrets, that I didn’t stay to help fulfil that potential. Dean Moxey and I used to compete for the same position, but when I moved into a more advanced part of the pitch, he used to fly down the left-hand side, which he’s still doing now! I used to love playing with him.
... manager you worked under
Hands down, Alex Inglethorpe. When he was talking to me about joining City he came and met me in person. The way he spoke about people, the club, the players and what they were trying to do. The way he treated me, he made me feel welcome and he wanted me there. Gary Mills at York City helped me to get what I wanted, which was a promotion. I wish I’d had done it at Exeter but to do it, especially late in my career when everyone had written me off, was something special.
...moment at City
Obviously, the Play-Off Final at Wembley where we lost to Morecambe. I ended up leaving the club after that which is one of my biggest regrets. Even though we lost that match, to pull on a City shirt and play for the club was special and I have fond memories throughout.
... decision that's gone against you
I’ve been sent off before when I shouldn’t have but nothing sticks in the memory that was too bad a decision. My first ever sending off was, I feel, a legitimate tackle but I soon got over it as its part and parcel of football.
... injury you had
It took me a while to get into the Football League, and I achieved it with York, I never really had a bad injury until then. But it eventually came against Gillingham at Bootham Crescent and it was actually caused by one of my teammates. He kicked my standing leg and I broke it which spelled the end of my career at York. These things happen, I’d had many years in the game and I’ve been generally lucky with injuries.