The big interview: Colchester United’s rookie keeper James Bransgrove “fell out of love with the game”

James Bransgrove

James Bransgrove - Credit: Richard Blaxall/Focus Images Ltd

James Bransgrove, who made a surprise debut for Colchester United on the final day of the season, in unusual circumstances, very nearly gave up his dream of becoming a goalkeeper during his mid-teens.

The highly-rated Bransgrove, who celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday, “fell out of love with the game” during his school-days.

But now he nurses an ambition to be the U’s long-term No. 1, after being called up at the last moment to start against Rochdale last Sunday.

Bransgrove, who dislocated his finger in training last Friday, was earmarked for the substitutes’ bench for the final game of the season, due to Elliott Parish’s absence through injury, and Dillon Barnes’ subsequent elevation to the starting line-up.

However, Barnes failed to arrive at the Community Stadium in time to be included in the final match-day squad, due to traffic congestion, and so Bransgrove got the nod.

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And he didn’t disappoint, making some good saves in the U’s 2-1 defeat to Dale.

Describing his career so far, Bransgrove revealed: “I’ve been at Colchester for three years, I was just turning 18 at the time, and I’m 21 on Thursday.

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“Before then, I was at Brentford for six months or so, on a part-time basis, and before then I was with Waltham Abbey in the Ryman League, as a 16-year-old.

“Prior to that, I was still at school playing football, so it’s been a rollercoaster five or six years for me.

“Hopefully, the upward curve continues over the coming years.

“While at school I was playing at Dagenham Foundation School, at Loughton, which is where I live.

“I did start out as a goalkeeper, My Dad put me in there, when we used to play on the driveway, from the age of six or seven, all the way up until 13 or 14. But then I stopped playing, basically because I actually fell out of love with it.

“Instead, I played as a centre-half and as a centre-forward with my mates, all over the place, before I got a break at Waltham Abbey, through friends. It’s gone on from there really, and the rest is history.”

Bransgrove missed the first half of the season, with a knee injury, but returned to action with the U’s under-21s, while also enjoying loan stints at Ryman League North side Maldon & Tiptree, and Conference South outfit Wealdstone.

At the time, feeder club Maldon were managed by Steve Ball, who ironically was in caretaker charge for the Rochdale defeat on Sunday, before taking over his new role as assistant to new boss John McGreal.

Bransgrove added: “After my knee injury, I’ve managed to get some football this year. The last six months have been brilliant.”

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