FOOTBALL: Mortimer-Jones - the quiet player with a penchant for 'worldies'
IF manager Brian Hughes is ‘The Don’ then James Mortimer-Jones, though not his captain, is his consigliere – his representative on the field of play, his fixer.
Mortimer-Jones, or Jonah as he is more regularly known, is the footballer’s footballer in the team. He’s the man who does the unsung jobs, covering, mopping up countless second balls, seeing and making a telling pass when the team is under pressure.
But he also has the technique to score ‘worldies’ like his goals this season against Paulton, Clevedon and Stratford.
His vital opening goal which turned the tide for Cirencester in the crucial final league game at Yate on Saturday was not in that class but it was made extra special because along with Jonah’s father, who watches every game, his son George was in the crowd for the first time.
“I ran over in the general direction of where George was but I could not actually see him after the goal,” said the midfielder.
But he made sure George was in the celebratory post-match picture – one truly for the family album.
Jonah is a quiet but authoritative figure in the side, one respected by all the other players. It was he who lit the blue touch paper in the heated Didcot dressing room bust-up which resulted in Ciren’s tremendous unbeaten run of seven subsequent games.
“The younger players were not taking the situation seriously enough,” he said. “The title we had worked so hard for was slipping away, so a few honest truths had to be told.
“It wasn’t a rant – it was constructive criticism.”
But Jonah was also quick to deflect praise on to other team-mates.
“When Hughesie said he was bringing in Smudge (Lee Smith) at the start of the season, I admit I wasn’t too sure,” he said.
“But the gaffer said: ‘He’s lost two stone and he’s looking fit and sharp.
“Fair play to Smudge, his goals have won us the league. He just loves football and if you said to him right now, let’s have a five-a side, he would be the first one up for it.”
He also had kind words for the retiring Jody Bevan, another prolific goal-scorer who savoured the championship victory with a few minutes off the bench at the end.
“Jody is incredible,” said Jonah. “He has retained the same enthusiasm and positive nature right down the years.
“If we were 2-0 down and he came off the bench in the 88th minute he’d be saying ‘come on lads, we still have time to get two goals’ – and he would believe it.”
A delighted Bevan was one of countless members of the squad who rated it their best day in football.
“We were second best for 70 minutes but it all changed when the kids (Jacob Davidge and Shane Bumphrey) came on,” said Bevan.
“We suddenly looked like the side we have been all season and, of course, Jonah only scores goals like that.
“At the end I was itching to get on and what better way to end my career.”
Steve Davies agreed about the contribution of the youngsters. “We needed a spark and the kids provided it,” he said.
“The plan was to get an early goal and we thought Yate might crumble but it didn’t pan out like that.
“It’s by far the peak of my career. You rarely get the chance to win a title at any level and to do it with such a small squad and on a low budget makes it all the sweeter.”
Lee Smith added: “This is the best feeling of my entire career and I am so happy for Hughesie and the chairman Steve Abbley – two absolutely top men.
“I think we rather froze on the day, even the experienced players.
“When Jonah was bearing down on goal I was screaming at him to slip me in, but fair play to him he has hit some vital goals for us and that was one of them.
“I am so pleased that we have been able to put one over on Merthyr because their fans have been very disrespectful about us and our support. The bottom line is that away from home they are not a very good side.
“Now we have the chance to win another medal when we play Dunstable, the champions of the Southern League Central next Saturday.”
Shayne Anson, Cirencester’s club captain who was injured and had to watch the game from the sidelines, admitted: “I was gutted to miss out on it and it was tough watching from the sides.
“It was very nervy in the first half but we got there in the end. We looked a different side in the second half.”
And one of the reasons for that was the pace and directness of 17-year-old winger Jacob Davidge who came off the bench to score the third Ciren goal a week after helping the club’s Development side win the Hellenic Div Two West title.
“The manager just said to go on, use my pace and track back,” said Davidge.
“My first shot was going into the top corner when it hit Shane (Bumphrey) and came back to me. I scuffed the second shot but it went over the line.
“I was playing for the Under 16s last season and this is my first year in men’s football so to win two titles in a week is unbelievable.”