In the next instalment of the #MyJourneySoFar series, we speak with Ryan Watson to get a detailed in-sight into how he got to where he is today...
Developing a love for the game...
“My passion for football came from my Dad. He was a massive Tranmere Rovers fan, so we used to go and watch them when I was a kid and I just fell in love with it from there.
“When I used to play for Everton people would think I’d get stick from my friends because I’m a Liverpool fan, but to be fair the majority of us within the academy were Liverpool supporters so the Everton fans were in the minority which is quite funny when you think about it!"
Idolising players and the story behind moving from Everton to Wigan Athletic…
“David Beckham was a big idol of mine when I was growing up, mainly because of his different haircuts and nice football boots, everyone wanted the ones he was wearing. He was England captain at the time as well so he was a role model for me, as was Steven Gerrard and Zinedine Zidane would be in my top three as well.
“I was offered a scholarship at Everton but it’s a funny one really because Dave Watson, who used to captain Everton, would come down and watch his son play in the year below us. He was youth-team manager at Wigan Athletic at the time and wanted to sign me.
“Everton were signing quite a few players from all over the country, so the pathway was harder, and I thought I’d have a better chance of getting involved at Wigan, so I went there. I was away from home already whilst I was at Everton, living in a house with other players in my team, but joining Wigan allowed me to move back home and I commuted there from the Wirral.
“That was hard work at sixteen years old though, obviously I couldn’t drive at the time so I’d get the train to Liverpool, then a train to Wigan before getting a bus to training, and then the same route home.”
A move to Leicester City, special memories and my first taste of the Cobblers…
“Following that spell, I moved to Leicester and was there for three years. I was at the club when the first-team got promoted from the Championship, and then they won the Premier League so it was special to be involved in and around that and it’s something I’ll never forget.
“It was a great club for me to be at, and out of the three teams I’d played for up to that point I definitely developed the most at Leicester, both as a player and as a person. They gave me the opportunity to go out on loan, both times at Northampton, and I really grew up and matured a lot and that set me up for the rest of my career.
“I loved my loan spells with the Cobblers, I got quite a bad injury during my first spell which was really disappointing because I was playing well up to that point and really enjoying working with Chris Wilder and Alan Knill.
“I came back the second time which was also great because the lads were flying and went on to get promoted, but I feel I wasn’t quite up to my normal standards and possibly rushed back slightly early from my initial injury.
“I hadn’t really trained enough or played many games before re-signing, but it was great to be back nonetheless, and I could always see myself coming back permanently later down the line."
A first permanent contract in the EFL, relegations & promotions…
“I then joined Barnet which was my first permanent club in the EFL, although unfortunately it didn’t work out as well as we all hoped because there was a lot of changes in management and we went on to get relegated.
“I moved down to London after I signed and didn’t really know anybody and everything was new to me, but on the flip side it was good to try a new environment and helped me grow as a person as well as play regular first-team football.
“That’s football, there’s a lot of ups and downs and that was summed up by winning promotion to League One the following year with MK Dons, so things can change really quickly. I enjoyed my time there and we had a tight-knit group.
“I’ll never forget we played Mansfield in a huge game at the end of last season, which pretty much meant the winner would get promoted automatically. Thankfully we won the game and got over the line."
Joining Northampton Town on a permanent basis and being delighted to be back…
“After a year with MK Dons I then re-joined Northampton, and I was massively pleased to do so, this time on a permanent basis.
“I came to meet the manager and straight away it was a no-brainer for me to come back. I had a really good feeling from our meeting, and I already knew the club and the potential it has.
“I was delighted to come back, the club means a lot to me and it would mean a huge amount if we were to have a successful end to the season, so that’s what we’re working hard for.
“I’ve managed to add some goals to my game this season, it’s been my best goalscoring campaign so far and I’ve got the management and coaching staff to thank for that. I’m able to play with a bit of freedom and get forward whenever possible, so it gives me a lot of confidence knowing I can add goals when I’m in and around the box.
“Scoring a goal is the best feeling in the world and it’s something I want to continue doing and get more before the end of the season. We’ve put in some work with the coaching team and they’ve given me belief that I can influence games and score goals.
“I’ve got a couple of favourites, including the goal away at Leyton Orient. Unfortunately, we drew the game in the end, but I enjoyed that one, as well as the header away at Burton in the FA Cup. That was a special day for the players and supporters and that would be my highlight of the season so far.
“I’m playing plenty of football here, we have a great dressing room and a talented team and we feel we’re capable of achieving something special this season, so I’m really enjoying my time here.”