Sign Jack Holmes?
That’s elementary explains Simon Wright
I watch another club when possible. No, not THAT one, this is my local team Halesowen Town. And why wouldn’t you? £7 admission for 60+, turnstiles 108 paces from my front door with my local pub positioned between the two. More and more people are watching the Yeltz, lured away from the big clubs. They averaged just under 1,000 last season and nearly the same in 22/23. For step 4, this is exceptional. Most of our Step 2 rivals can’t equal those numbers. But with the number comes expectation. Like South Shields and Macclesfield, Halesowen players are expected to win every game home and away, against sides who – cliché-warning- see Town as their Cup Final. The pressure became too much for their players last season. They dropped off the pace and then lost in the play-offs to a ludicrous penalty.
This season, the Yeltz have won 8 out of their 9 games and the absolute standout star in central midfield was Jack Holmes. I wouldn’t describe his position as a “No 10” because Halesowen play with 3 forwards who don’t do much defensive work thus Holmes and his team mates are very busy in the middle. I particularly remember a game at Gresley. The home side were an Alfreton clone. Big blokes who play in red on a horrible pitch. They were 2-1 ahead and Halesowen were feeling the heat of rugged tackles. Holmes, who seemed oblivious to the bouncy surface all night, took aim and scored from 25 yards for the equaliser. After that the visitors went on to win 3-2. By common consent, Jack Holmes is the best player at Halesowen this term or as their supporters claim “best in step 4.”
Holmes learnt his trade with Burton Albion, moving up through their youth ranks and noted for his spectacular goals. He was a left winger then (and remained so until this summer.) The wide man moved on a work experience loan in January 2020 to the Yeltz. As we know with Thierry Five Names, Burton Albion don’t have an u21 squad so actively seek loan homes for their future talent.
Halesowen manager Paul Smith explained to Yeltz TV: “We played Burton recently and they had some fantastic young talent on display. I was really impressed. One stood out above the rest and that was young Jack. He was outstanding. I’m sure he will make a huge impact. Many thanks to Dan Robinson at Burton for his help with this. My hope is going forward our clubs can forge a closer relationship’’.
That loan was truncated by covid. When the summer came around and contract time, four of Holmes’s team mates secured a first team deal. Albion were uncertain about Jack and invited him to train with them. But covid was still a problem. Sometimes in life like Harry Pinchard, you have to go backwards to go forwards. Jack opted for regular adult football back at Halesowen.
In early 21/22 he was in terrifying form and then had a wobble. Some thought that the opposition had sussed him out. Others were frustrated that when he lost the ball, they saw no appetite to get it back. Being sent off in a key game didn’t help. He was still exciting to watch yet didn’t click every time. But that is a valuable part of learning for young players. Chat with Dara O’Shea and he will freely admit he learnt more from being sent off 3 times for Hereford than he did in a whole season of Academy football. Jack was only 20, one of the youngest in the team. The weight of expectation was pressing on all on his team mates. Finding ways to deal with the pressure is key to progress. Arguably, his form this season indicates he found that way.
In November 21, the Yeltz met Burton Albion in the Birmingham Senior cup which Albion won on penalties. In a future and past Hereford fest … Thierry etc etc started for Burton, Kyle Finn for Halesowen with Harry White and Holmes on the bench. Both came on in the second half.
Holmes didn’t want to re-sign for Halesowen this year. He spent a chunk of the summer trying in vain to impress Kidderminster Harriers but hey what do they know? My Halesowen chums thought he would not return but Halesowen then announced that their favourite “had committed for 22/23.” What the phrase means isn’t clear because there was no mention of contract compensation when the Bulls charged in. The ex-Burton man had racked up 60 appearances, scoring 8 times.
Late midweek, Halesowen announced that an unnamed National League club had made an offer for the fans favourite and he was going because he saw the move “as a step towards the pro game.” The scenario was almost identical to the signing of George Forsyth and sure enough five days, Holmes’s new club was made public.
Generally speaking, the Halesowen faithful have taken the departure of their star man philosophically. No strident criticism of the manager or demands that the Board resigns. Maybe a lesson to learn there?
Off field, our new recruit is very low profile. He’s 21, married and that’s basically everything in the public domain.
”Jack has been fantastic for us.” Town manager Paul Smith commented, ”He fully deserves this opportunity, he is desperate to get back into the pro game and this is another step towards that. We are glad to have been able to provide that platform for him to impress.”
Hereford boss Josh Gowling says, “We’ve had an eye on Jack for a while now and he’s started the season exceptionally well, he can play in the 10 and wide and with only Harry as a natural 10 for us it was the right time to bring an addition that will add goals to the squad”.