TOM James never lacked self-belief while at Daventry Town but even he would have been hard pressed to have envisaged a six-step rise through the ranks to earn a six-month contract with Championship League club Watford, writes Mike Tebbitt.
On the recommendation of his good friend former England goalkeeper Ben Foster, James (22) was given a fortnight’s trial at Watford where he played all 90 minutes in a friendly against Sunderland.
After that the Leamington lad was offered a contract until at least next January with the Watford website going on to describe him as “a late developer.” Last season “TJ” played for step five club Stratford Town in the Midland Alliance.
A member of Daventry Town’s 2009-2010 UCL title-winning squad James failed to hold on to the left-back slot on a regular basis with manager Ady Fuller more often than not using him as a left-sided midfield player.
Last season TJ moved to Stratford but returned for one last hoorah with injury-hit Town in the Southern League play-offs final defeat at Hitchin in early May. Now the big time beckons.
The upwardly mobile number three made headline news in the Non-League paper this week as did the Town’s new boss Mark Kinsella who was tipped by staff reporter Matt Badcock as a likely promotion contender this season.
“If Kinsella brings the drive that made him so important to Charlton’s rise to the top of the football tree, then Daventry could go one better than their 2-0 final defeat at Hitchin,” claimed Badcock.
St Neots and Slough Town were also mentioned as likely Central Division champions while dark horses to look out for were Bedfont Town and, perhaps more surprisingly, newly-promoted Combined Counties League champions Chertsey Town.