Notts County’s Jamal Campbell-Ryce is hoping to emulate his trusted initiation song of choice with his fortunes this season but two of the League One club’s up-and-coming prospects may need some intervention, from a musical standpoint at least!
After capturing the attention on the periphery of Charlton Athletic’s first team in their Premier League days, the London-born Jamaican international became well-known to those with an eye on the Football League for his time with a number of clubs. Among the high points for the 30-year-old so far are helping both Southend United and Colchester United to promotion from League One in the same season and an FA Cup semi-final in a productive spell with Barnsley in the Championship.
With pre-season well underway and a narrow home defeat to last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists Galatasaray last night, Jamal is edging closer to optimum condition ahead of 2013/14. Notts were beaten 2-1 at Meadow Lane by the Turkish champions in a friendly that drew an attendance of 5377 and saw the Magpies take the lead through frontman Enoch Showunmi. Ultimately, Turkey striker Burak Yilmaz and Dutch midfield maestro Wesley Sneijder with a stunning strike turned the game but the home side could have gone 2-0 ahead if 18-year-old local-born forward Romello Nangle’s superb effort had found the target. Jamal, 30, will be one of the senior players who can pass on his experience to the likes of Nangle but he names him and another teenage attacking talent as having an area to brush up on!
“We had Tyrell Waite and Romello Nangle do a duet in front of the team and it was awful. The song was ‘Oh Happy Day’.”
Although Jamal’s verdict for those two may not be glowing, the former Bristol City and Rotherham United man does acknowledge his own craftsmanship will never extend to hitting those high notes! Since starting out with Alan Curbishley’s Charlton Athletic, he has had five full transfers, giving him ample opportunity to try out his initiation song. The track in question is this r&b singer’s biggest mainstream success and one from the Michael Jordan / Looney Tunes film Space Jam.
“When you join a new club you usually have to sing and my one is R. Kelly ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. It gets everyone else to join in but I can’t sing, I sound like a strangled cat!”
Last November, the club’s defender Dean Leacock, now named as captain by manager Chris Kiwomya, was on this site with his own interview and he mentioned Jamal as someone on his wavelength for tune choices. Jamal describes how the ex-Derby County centre-back has another important task before the game begins, as well as delving into his own favourite music.
“Dean Leacock is the DJ for home and away games and whatever he plays everyone seems to like. I’ve always liked my r&b and hip-hop but with a bit of house taking over now too.
“My favourite artists at the moment are Rick Ross, Kendrick Lamar and Miguel. I can’t actually remember the first CD I had but when Eminem first came out me and my friends would listen to him a lot.
“’The Marshall Mathers LP’ is one of the first I remember buying.”
From August 2007 to January 2010, Jamal played his football in South Yorkshire with Barnsley and enjoyed some great moments including reaching the 2008 FA Cup semi-final after knocking out Liverpool and Chelsea along the way. While with the Oakwell club, he recorded a career-best of 9 goals in the Championship in 2008/09 and hit 13 in total for the Reds. His move to Barnsley followed his year in the same division with Southend United (2006/07) and one of his teammates from here made a positive impression on him. The defender is now with Bournemouth and he could hold his own in the playlist stakes while Jamal worked with him at Roots Hall.
“I’ve always been lucky with teammates’ music because there haven’t been any who’ve had bad taste so we haven’t had any sound clashes. Simon Francis, who’s one of my best pals, he was into r&b and hip-hop like me and would play the music at Southend.
“At Barnsley I got to really control the music and Marvin Elliott was a good one at Bristol City so I’ve been lucky.”
It is almost eleven years since Jamal’s professional debut on loan at Leyton Orient against Rochdale in Division Three (League Two) and one of his three Premier League appearances for Charlton came against Arsenal in their ‘Invincibles’ season of 2003/04.
After further loans at Wimbledon and Chesterfield, he joined Rotherham United in November 2004. Jamal featured on loan for both Southend and Colchester United in 2005/06, with the former winning League One and the latter finishing as runners-up. That summer, he represented the country of his heritage Jamaica as they faced England at Old Trafford, losing 6-0 as Peter Crouch scored a hat-trick and also chipped a penalty over the bar.
A number of players to have featured for Jamaica have been on here with their interviews and it would not be far wrong to suggest that most of the world knows about the country’s deep passion for music. Jamal pulled on the shirt in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup and he has been blown away by his experiences amongst the squad in his international career.
“Well, we’re called the Reggae Boyz for a reason! We love our music in Jamaica, it’s brilliant on the bus with the team on the way to games and training with it playing.
“The atmosphere in the ground is incredible.”
In that aforementioned spell at Barnsley, Jamal also made a big contribution in sealing a league double over local rivals Sheffield Wednesday in February 2009, the Reds’ first over the Owls in nearly 63 years. He scored a penalty in the 2-1 home win and the only goal of the game at Hillsborough in the return fixture. Jamal’s run and stepovers came before burying the finish past Lee Grant with his left foot and I recall it well…as a Wednesday supporter. Jamal looks back on that game and how he felt being a key creative outlet in his two and a half years with the club.
“Yeah that season for me (2008/09) is probably up there as my best. It was fantastic being the focal point and scoring and setting up the goals and I remember that particular game well.
“It was a big derby and atmosphere and the goal was definitely one of the best of my career.”
Jamal signed for Bristol City in January 2010 and featured 65 times for the Robins in all competitions but had to seek playing time back on loan at Leyton Orient towards the end of the 2011/12 season. He joined Notts County last summer and although the 12th-placed finish, 9 points from the League One play-offs, was not the desired outcome Jamal was able to get going again with 8 goals in 40 games.
Ex-Ipswich Town forward Danny Haynes was a teammate of Jamal’s at Bristol City and he is the latest addition to the Notts ranks with the new campaign drawing closer. With a trip to Sheffield United on Friday 2nd August to open the Magpies’ season Jamal explains why he is confident of exceeding last year’s progress.
“At the moment I’m happy on a personal front, last pre-season I got injured and that carried seven games into the start of the season. I’m glad to be back playing, my last season at Bristol City was the first time in my career I’ve not been playing and it was difficult, so I’m really enjoying being the focal point.”
As well as ex-Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder, Notts also came up against Chelsea favourite Didier Drogba in last night’s Galatasaray friendly so Jamal has been in good company already this week. He may not have been able to call upon those two names for this final question but when selecting his best career teammates who he would have alongside him in a 5-a-side team he went for an England international, and also a current Premier League manager who may make a headline or fifty this season. There are also two of his colleagues from Southend, one of whom was mentioned earlier, so here is the line-up Jamal has gone for.
“For a keeper I’m going to have to go with Darryl Flahavan who I played with at Southend. He’s a bit shorter than most keepers but he’d be perfect for 5-a-side.
“Defender – my best pal, Simon Francis. Very energetic, he’d be up and down, great feet and a great shot on him too.
“In midfield, one I played with at Charlton – Scott Parker. He’s an international so it speaks for itself.
“Up top, another from Charlton – Paolo Di Canio. Great feet, he can chop one way or the other, he can shoot, a fantastic player and perfect again for 5-a-side.”