Former Charlton Rovers defender James Barnett is enjoying life at Longlevens and can’t wait to test himself in the Hellenic Premier this season.
The defender joined Levens after helping Charlton Rovers to the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division One title and spoke to Severn Sport exclusively about how he has settled in and his aims for the season.
When discussing the move Barnett was quick to praise manager Mark Moore, citing him as one of the reasons he joined Longlevens.
“It has been great at Longlevens so far. I did come here mainly because of Mark [Moore]. I spoke to him on the phone and he made the club sound good and he called me up just for a chat which ultimately was a big part of me joining. Since I have come here Mark has given me a fair crack in the team which is great.”
“I think I struggled in the first game against Cirencester, so a run in the side was needed. Hopefully since then I’d like to think I have put in better performances. I really enjoyed playing in your Severn Sport Shield tournament and yeah since then I’ve done better, tough sessions like this one here today that I haven’t had before have really helped.”
Barnett spoke to us after a pre-season training session put on at Saw Mills by Ben Caton and the guys at Titan Training & Nutrition and highlighted the Titan Training sessions as a major difference between Gloucestershire Northern Senior and Hellenic League football.
“Charlton Rovers have always been an organized club but yeah it is definitely a step up. Like I said Titan Training coming down here and running hard sessions is something I have never had before, especially in pre-season but it is also the volume of pre-season friendlies we have had. I mean, we have played Gloucester City, Cinderford Town and Cirencester Town who are all of a higher level but when I was at Charlton we sometimes found ourselves struggling to find friendlies or being let down by sides we don’t usually play.”
The defender has found himself at centre half and at right back in his early Longlevens career and has shown that he has a long throw in his arsenal. But Barnett admits that already his teammates are helping him learn how to utilize it better.
“The long thrown in is a mixed bag really. Against Cinderford on Thursday I was mainly trying to use it just to get out of our half as we were under a bit of pressure. But Myron [Turner] came over to me early on and said let’s try and bounce it and keep possession, which was something that wasn’t going through my mind at the time. My natural reaction was the clear my lines. It is a good attribute to have though that is for sure.”
Barnett then spoke highly of his Longlevens teammates and acknowledged how quickly they have helped him settle into his new home.
“I am excited for the new season and can’t wait to test myself. The guys have made it easy. They have been a great bunch of lads to just to have a laugh with and they have encouraged me on as I look to test myself and get used to the higher level.”
We unfairly asked him to pick a player or players who have stood out for him in his early Levens career and Barnett highlighted Longlevens’ mixture of youth and experience as a platform for success and to build for the future.
“Jay Kennedy has scored a couple in pre-season and he is part of a great bunch but then we have a player like Dave Rich who is such a calming influence in midfield. He is calming but has a big challenge in him as well. Myron Turner in the hole is going to have a good season hopefully and Mark has done a great job getting the young lads like Isaac [Johns] and Rhys [Lewis] in from the 3rds and then signing Adam Philp from Cam shows we have a talented squad and the future looks good.”
James Barnett isn’t the only sporting member of the Barnett family, his sister Alicia is currently in Ottawa playing in the ITF Women’s Circuit tennis tournament and currently occupies the number 615 position in the world rankings.
Alicia is due to play in the semi final of the $25,000 Gatineau stop on the ITF Women’s circuit today, where she will meet the world number 320 ranked Astra Sharma of Australia. Barnett told us the family has always been sport mad growing up.
“My dad is heavily into golf, football and tennis. Then there is me and my three sisters and certainly the younger two were heavily involved in football, they both played for Gloucester City girls and we have all played tennis, all four of us. Alicia in particular has excelled at tennis and is currently in Ottawa playing in a tournament over there and is in the top 700 in the world. She has just reached the semi final after beating the 150th and 115th in the world so far so is one game from getting into a pretty important final for her.”
“Myself, I used to play tennis as well at county level, which has helped me. Tennis is a lonely sport and everything is all on you. Over the years I have struggled for confidence, especially in football, certainly when I was younger. Tennis helped that as it gives you a mental resilience but yeah we all have a sporting background which brings us together.”
Barnett continues his pre-season at his new club when Longlevens welcome Western League side Wellington to Saw Mills on Tuesday night. Kick off at 7.45pm