Home > Shamrock Rovers Player Interviews for programme > Chambers made for midfield

Chambers made for midfield

For fans of the beautiful game, the day of the World Cup final, which only comes around once every four years, is a memorable one. With today being a combination of the World Cup final and a match against Dundalk where Shamrock Rovers can cement their place at the top of the league, it could turn out to be a day that Rovers fans will all remember with fondness in years to come.

Last Monday night’s game against Saint Patrick’s Athletic is a game that will live long in the memory. At the end of the exciting top of the table clash, Rovers took over leadership of the Airtricity Premier Division in eventful fashion which had remarkable similarities to the previous Friday’s World Cup Quarter Final. Just as Luis Suarez got sent off for handling the ball to save his Uruguayan team from conceding an injury time goal, Billy Dennehy reached out a hand to concede a penalty and also get a red card. Whereas it was Gyan who missed for Ghana, it was Guy who had his penalty saved by the Hoops Number 1, Alan Mannus. It sparked amazing scenes at the final whistle with the players, and indeed Rovers mascot Hooperman, enveloping the big Ulsterman.

The celebrations included James Chambers who was delighted with the result, the performance and the key contributions played by Dennehy and Mannus. “Everybody was delighted as it was good for us to put back to back wins,” he told Hoops Scene during the week. “There was a great atmosphere, brilliant for a Dublin derby. It was great to get the goals, come from behind and win the game but I felt we were always in control of the game.”

It was the second time in just four days that Rovers had come from being a goal down to win a game following the previous Friday’s win over a determined Sligo Rovers in The Showgrounds. The Hoops have the most draws in the league this season so it was great to turn those draws into wins, something that wasn’t happening earlier on in the season Chambers reflected, “We might have got back to 1-1 but we wouldn’t have got the rub of the green to get the second goal.”

The fans of both Sligo and Shamrock Rovers last Friday decided to take in some real life 3D football rather than watch the Uruguay v Ghana game on TV but it looks like Billy Dennehy saw the highlights of that game over the weekend. So was there much comment in the dressing room that Dennehy does a great Luis Suarez impression? “A few lads were giving him a bit of banter about it but listen he took one for team so fair play to him. Then it was a massive save from big Al (Alan Mannus). To be honest that is what Al has been like this season. He has got us out of trouble at times and has been unbelievable. Down in Sligo he produced two world class saves.”

Those two wins against Sligo and Pats see Rovers sitting on top of the league for the first time this season but like all seasoned pros, Chambers wasn’t getting carried away with going top. “There is an awful lot of football to be played and there is no league medals given out until October but yeah it was a really big result for us.”

Chambers came off the bench on Monday to play at full back when Aidan Price went off in the first half. “It is not my preferred position but at the end of the day the main thing is that you want to play wherever you can get a position and do your best. I know it’s not my strongest position and the gaffer (Michael O’Neill) knows that as well. It is just a case of that is where I am playing at the minute and I’m going to give it my all.”

It was with Shelbourne that Chambers began his career and at the young age of 17 was involved with the Shelbourne squad that had that impressive run in Europe in 2004. “I was with their u21 team but I was on the bench for the game against Lille in Lansdowne Road.” He went on loan to Waterford United before returning to Shels spending two years in their first team after they were relegated to the First Division. He then travelled over to England on trial with Walsall before lining out with Solihull Moors in the Blue Square Conference. “I was in training with Walsall when their manager got sacked so I ended up signing for the conference team to keep me ticking over until a new manager came in and got the job. Chris Hutchings got the job but he said he wasn’t interested. I then came back to Ireland and Alan Matthews asked me up training in Drogheda where I signed for a year. I was delighted that Alan gave me the chance to play. All the boys who were up there were all without clubs as Alan got the job late enough so it was a whole pile of out of work footballers who were trying to impress him. We became really close because we were thrown together. Against Bray (in the relegation playoff), it was nice for me to score in that one but it was a long tough season and so I was delighted they stayed up in the end.”

It was soon after the end of the season that Chambers put pen to paper to sign for the Hoops. Only goalkeeper Alan Mannus and captain Dan Murray have started more league games for Rovers this season but Chambers feels Rovers haven’t seen the best of him yet. “I started well but I’m not playing as well as I can be at the minute. I haven’t hit top form yet and I know there is an awful lot more to come. I just need to keep improving and I can see the difference in my game playing with better players and working with Trevor (Crolly) and the gaffer. I didn’t play well in Sligo and so I wasn’t in the starting 11 (against Pats) so it just shows if you are not playing well, you are not going to play. That is fair enough and everybody knows you have to keep on your toes as we have an awful lot of top quality players here.”

There is healthy competition for places on the team as well as around free kicks. Chambers has found the net six times with a number of goals from dead ball situations. So is he a dead ball specialist? “I see myself as a goal scoring midfielder but I don’t know about dead ball specialist. If I’m feeling confident, I’ll hit one but there is a bit of competition with the lads. Sean O’Conner wants to take them and so does Dessie. And Danny Murphy throws his head in but I’m not sure about that one!” And would he fancy getting that World Cup Jabulani ball up and over a defensive wall? I’d like to see what it is like. I’d be able to get it up but I don’t know if I’d be able to get it down!”

Hopefully Chambers will be able to watch the World Cup Final tonight having helped Rovers to a win and maybe having shown off that goal celebration first seen in UCD Bowl where he joined his hands in a shape of a bird or is it a butterfly? So where did the celebration come from? “We were in the changing room against UCD before the League Cup game. A couple of us were going through celebrations that players do in England and we were mimicking them. Myself and Twiggy came up with that one which is one Anelka did. So I said if I scored, I would do it and I did”. Anelka didn’t have the happiest of World Cup’s but Chambers is a different character who clearly enjoys his football both playing and watching.

After today’s game, he will be heading home to chill out and view the conclusion of the World Cup which he has watched closely. The final will see Holland take on either Spain or Germany. He says you can’t dismiss Spain but for the winner “I’m torn between Holland and the Germans. I like Holland but also like a couple of the German players. It is going to be exciting to watch”.

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