Read our full interview with goalkeeper Jason Mooney which appeared in last Saturday’s Oxford programme where he talks McDonalds, ironing and his early dislike of being a goalie.
Jason Mooney can list barman, labouring, McDonalds and washing cars on his CV – no wonder he loves being a footballer!
The Stanley keeper has gone the long way round to making it as a professional footballer and he admits, even then, he ended up being a goalie by accident.
Now however, he is getting regular games with the Reds, his confidence is sky high and he appreciates everything – even living with four team-mates who he has to ‘mother’.
“I have come into football through probably one of the hardest routes,” said the 26-year-old. “I have worked all my life since I was 14 in proper jobs as I didn’t get into football until I was 22.
“I worked labouring, washing cars and at McDonalds for a spell when I was playing amateur football in Northern Ireland. You would say I have had my fair share of normal jobs!
“Then I went for trials at goalkeeping weekend which my dad paid for and there were some English scouts there. I got picked up by Wycombe and asked to come for a trial which I did.”
It was while he was at Wycombe he got his job behind the bar at Adams Park.
“I was on a two-month trial at Wycombe, I wasn’t getting paid so I had to do something.
“To be fair I had just come out of a full-time job so doing a couple of shifts behind the bar a week was quite enjoyable!”
He didn’t make it at Wycombe and spells at Tranmere and York followed but he never got the chance to make a big impact.
“I did start to question myself at York last season and think I was perhaps not good enough for this league. But here I am a year later, playing regularly and doing well and I appreciate it massively as I know the other side of it.
“It is hard when you are training Monday to Friday and then just watching a game on Saturday, albeit sitting on the bench.
“Now I work hard Monday to Friday and I have a reason to do it, because I am playing on Saturday and I have got to implement everything I have learned in the week into the weekend’s games.”
However Mooney admits being a goalkeeping, despite his 6ft 9in frame, wasn’t his first choice position.
“I was centre midfield when I was younger. Then when I was about 10 I broke my leg and became fat! I was a kid, I was out for three months, I didn’t know nutrition and I just ate chocolate.
“I came back and then it was ‘chuck the big lad up front’ so I played centre forward and then, when I was about 16, the keeper in my team broke his arm.
“Everyone looked around at who was the tallest and it fell on me and from that point on I was in goal. I didn’t even like being a goalie until I was about 19!
“When I was in Ireland being a goalie in the amateur leagues was just about being between the sticks and stopping the goals going in.
“When I came over to England I realised there was so much more to it. I appreciate it a lot more as it’s more technical and there is a lot more technique involved. It’s my brain that hurts after 90 minutes with all the thinking!”
And his work doesn’t stop there as he shares a house in Accrington with fellow stopper Ross Etheridge as well as team-mates Shay McCartan, Matt Crooks and Josh Windass.
“I do have to look after them. Crooksy couldn’t use the tin opener the other day, we have a log burning fire and it’s up to me to deal with that and I have had to iron Shay’s T-shirt.
“Fortunately we do get on well. There is a bit of tension at times – it is a bit like living in the ‘Big Brother’ house!”
Mooney seems easy going but he is dedicated to his job and is happy to have found a ‘home’ at Accrington.
“I guess a lot of the players here have a point to prove – we all have a hunger, especially in defence. Tom Davies didn’t get a game for Fleetwood so he has a point to prove, I want to improve, Matty Pearson is another without a lot of league games under his belt and we have all gelled around Dean Winnard who is the experienced head in defence.
“As a team, we know that Accrington are written off every season and we are all out to prove everyone wrong. So far we haven’t played anyone who have been better than us on the day.
“It is a case of so far, so good and I am feeling better every game. I am listening to what the goalkeeping coach Billy Stewart tells me and working on that and then the gaffer is telling me different things to work on as well and I am doing that.
“I am technically not better than a lot of goalkeepers but I am willing to work hard to maintain my standards in a game and I feel like I am improving every match.
“I did look at the number of goals Accrington conceded last season, only after I signed mind you, and it was a lot so my first task is to beat that and keep as many clean sheets as possible. Strikers like their goals, goalkeepers like their clean sheets. This is a good job!”