Interview kindly sponsored by Parishes of Jersey Football Club.
St Ouen’s star Jake Prince has been a standout player in Jersey’s Jacksons Premiership this season, finishing as the winner of the JEP Golden Boot with 21 goals.
Having made the short move from St Peter to St Ouen at the start of the season, Prince has shown his doubters just what he is made of and ended the campaign by deservedly receiving a nomination for the Jacksons Premiership Player of the Season Award, along with Jersey Wanderers’ Logan McGhee and Sporting Academics’ Jamie Savoy.
Sportscast Jersey caught up with the young striker, reflecting upon his fine season as well as talking about his respect for Parishes of Jersey manager James Scott and the goal-scorers big aspirations to be called up to the Jersey Bulls squad.
How has lockdown been for you?
On a personal level, there were definitely tough periods during lockdown, from not seeing my family or friends to not being able to play football, but all-in-all I feel like I’ve made the best of a bad situation. I’ve been working out a lot in my garage and I’m feeling fitter than ever. I am also still working from home so the days have been flying by.
Have you always been into your football? Who did you play for when you were younger?
I’ve always played and enjoyed football. From the age of 5 my mum and dad would take me up to Grainville every Sunday to play with Micky, who used to run football matches for kids. Micky played a big part in my early football days and he was the reason I carried on playing from a young age. The first club I played for was St Paul’s but I moved to St Clement’s shortly after.
Have you always been a striker?
My preferred position is definitely as a number 9. Ever since I was young I’ve always enjoyed playing there because I love scoring goals and winning games for the team. I’ve always been an attack minded player and I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else. I have had managers who would play me on the left or right side of midfield, but my favorite position is definitely in the middle of the front three.
When you first moved to St Ouen, what attracted you to the club?
There were a lot of factors that influenced my decision to move to the club. Firstly, I felt like my time with St. Peter’s was over as I wasn’t enjoying my football anymore. I was being played out of position a lot in my last season with the club and there was always uncertainty around whether I would start or not. This was a big reason for me moving as I knew if I moved to St Ouen I would get more game time and enjoy my football again, which I definitely have done. Another reason for joining was that St Ouen have always been unfortunate when it comes to winning trophies/contending for the title, so I was hoping I could help change that. I also knew a few of the managers and players at the club, and they couldn’t speak more highly of how the club is managed. All the coaches are brilliant, the players work hard and the training sessions are really enjoyable, so I’m very happy I moved.
Were you welcomed straight away – what are the manager and your team-mates like?
Yes absolutely, from the first meeting I had with the coaches I felt very welcomed. I have built a lot of respect for the managers because everything they told me in that meeting they’ve stuck to completely and they’ve really brought the best out of me. I’ve had good coaches in the past but there are five managers at St Ouen and I feel like I can learn something new from all of them. The coaches’ spirit is unbelievable as well. You can see how much they want to win and it just pushes me to work harder. The same goes for the players of the club, they are a really good bunch of lads and they all work so hard for one another. I was lucky in that I knew a few of the players before joining, some I had played with and some I played against but we all got on straight away and they were brilliant from the day I joined so I couldn’t thank them enough.
How good was this season for the club?
I thought we had an excellent season. I think it’s been a massive statement for the club as we have really shown that we are there to win trophies and contend for the league. We finished second last season and that’s the highest the club has finished in a really long time, having only lost two games and with a final to play I’d say it’s been a great season. It’s definitely given the boys a massive boost and we are really hopeful we can take that into next season and do even better.
How gutting was it that the season was finished the way it was, through Points Per Game, especially when the title race was still open?
Obviously it was a disappointing end to the season, not only for St Ouen but for all of the clubs. It’s a tough one to take for us because it’s the first time in almost 60 years where the club was potentially able to win the league but couldn’t because of how it ended. I also think it’s frustrating for the likes of Wanderers. They have had a great season and are worthy champions but I’m sure if you asked each of the players and coaches they would all have liked to finish the season properly after all the effort that has been put into this season.
On a personal note, how pleasing was it to finish top scorer?
Finishing top goal scorer is a massive thing for me and something that I have always wanted to achieve. In the 2017-18 season I was one goal off and unfortunately didn’t score in my last 5 games, so to finish this season with the most goals is a big achievement for me. I’ve been working really hard for a while now so I’m glad it’s paying off. I couldn’t have done it alone though, the team have been great this season and we’ve all worked really well together. The coaches have also helped me a lot, they’ve believed in me from the beginning, gave me time on the pitch to score the goals and will go through the trenches for me so I’ll always be thankful for that. Hopefully we can take this into next season and I’ll try to win it again.
And to be nominated for the Jacksons Premiership Player of The Season, how proud are you?
I’m so happy to be nominated for player of the season, it means so much to me. I’ve been working harder than ever so to receive a nomination, it just shows that hard work does pay off. I’ve really enjoyed my football this season and I’m definitely looking forward for everything to come. I know there’s a lot more to come from me and I feel like I’ve got a point to prove, so I’m going to keep pushing and hopefully myself and the team can win more trophies next season. Well done to Logan and Jamie for being selected as well, they’ve had a great season and I wish them the best of luck.
You were named in the Parishes of Jersey squad for the CONIFA World Cup in North Macedonia. How disappointing was it when that was postponed?
Yes absolutely, it’s such a shame for not only the players but everyone who was involved in the whole planning process. It was obviously such a big thing for Jersey football and one that I was really looking forward too. To be 1 of 16 teams who were selected in a World Cup tournament was a massive deal for Jersey football so it’s a shame that we couldn’t go over there. I’ve got to say a special mention to the likes of James Scott for all of his help in getting Jersey involved in this tournament. He’s a great ambassador for Jersey football and it’s a shame that more people aren’t like him on this island. Hopefully the tournament is rescheduled soon enough and we can go over there and show other teams what we can do.
Is it pleasing to be in the Parishes of Jersey squad, getting the opportunity to play with the best players on the island?
Being selected for the Parishes of Jersey team was a big thing for me. I’ve had a tough season, not being picked for the Bulls and being in and out of the Jersey squad so it meant a lot to me. I was obviously gutted when the tournament was postponed but there’s nothing anyone can do about it unfortunately. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with the team and hopefully everything will be back to normal soon.
Is getting picked for Jersey Bulls FC a big goal of yours?
From the day I found out about the Jersey Bulls I’ve always wanted to be a part of the squad but unfortunately I am yet to receive a message. To be truthful, I was really gutted when I found out I wasn’t selected. To know that over 40 players were picked for the squad and I wasn’t one of them really hurt. I know the manager has his favourites, but having played under him for two seasons I would have thought I would have received some sort of recognition but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. In a way, it’s a blessing in disguise because it has pushed me to work harder than I ever have before and I’m really enjoying my football at the moment. I guess we will have to see what happens in the future, but getting into the Bulls squad is a big aspiration of mine.
Prince has shown his capabilities over the past season, and throughout this interview he has come across as a hard working, down to earth player who has his feet firmly on the ground, as well as his eyes on his personal target of one day putting on the Jersey Bulls shirt and for many people it would be hard to see why he couldn’t in the near future.
A big thanks to Jake for his time, and to Adrian Topley for the images.