Often Partisan

Where Are They Now? Part III

Whilst it’s all quiet on the Birmingham City front, I thought I’d revisit a series I started a while back entitled “Where Are They Now?” I’ve tried to look again at younger players who didn’t quite make it, to see where they ended up.

Sam Oji

Sam joined Blues after leaving the Arsenal academy at the age of eighteen in 2004, and he was hyped to be a very promising young centre back.

Alas, Sam’s Blues career was limited to about two minutes of an FA Cup 4th round replay at home to Reading – which isn’t much if you can recall some of the rave reviews he got for the reserves.

Sam had three loan spells away from Blues before his contract was cancelled by mutual consent in January 2008, and he joined Leyton Orient for the rest of that season. Sadly, those six months at the Matchroom stadium was to be Sam’s longest run in the first team – he drifted from there to Hereford United where he made five appearances before suffering the first in a long line of knee injuries that started to finish off his career. Sam had a spell out in the Swedish second division with Ljungskile, and did fairly well only to have his time with them cut short due to financial irregularities. Sam trialled again with Leyton Orient, before trying out with Turkish side Diyabakispor – where his knee problems struck again.

After surgery, Sam tried to follow fellow Blues youngsters Sone Aluko and Andrew Barrowman in making a career north of the border – appearing in the Daily Record’s “Gie’s a Game” feature – but sadly it seems he’s not been able to find another club.

David Howland

Here’s a piece of trivia for you. Jordon Mutch was named as a substitute for a league cup match against Blackburn Rovers at the tender age of 15, after receiving info from the Premier League that was okay – however two hours before the game it was decided by the FA it wasn’t in fact okay, and Blues were given special dispensation to have David Howland on the bench, in an unnumbered shirt.

However, that single appearance on the subs bench in 2007 was the closest the Northern Irish midfielder got to playing for the Blues first team, and after six years with the club he was released by Blues. Back then I used to get to a few reserve games, and I can’t really remember much about David Howland, which probably says a lot about how good he was for us really. Like many of the young players at the time, I think he was considered fodder from the Academy/reserves and not much more – even though Howland was 22 when we released him, and a Northern Irish u21 international.

David now plays in the IFA Premiership for Belfast team Glentoran, where he’s made quite a few appearances (according to their stats, he’s a mainstay of their midfield). Like Blues, Glentoran has made an appearance in the Europa League this season, and David has made three appearances in the qualifying rounds for the Glens. Admittedly, it’s not the same level as playing in England – but at least it’s regular football for him.

Jacques Williams

Jacques, a scouse-born, French raised ex-England u18 player signed for us at the same time as Tresor Luntala (who I covered in a previous “Where are they now?” article) – and was supposed to have a similar level of promise.

Jacques made four first-team appearances for Blues – which I have to admit, is four more than I remember – before he had to have a hernia op, and his Blues career was over before it began. He was a regular in the ressies team of the time, but injuries kept holding him back and in 2002 Williams was released.

After playing for Conference side Scarborough for a season, Jacques then tried his luck in the Belgian second for a year with Excelsior Virton, before heading out to play in the Iranian second division with Teraktor Sazi. If you think that’s obscure, Jacques then moved on to Steel Azin in the next season, and won the Iranian second division – the “Azadegan league” with them. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to stay on to try out playing in the Iranian Premier League. The last information I have for him is that he’s in the UAE second division with Ras al-Khaimah FC, but I haven’t much info to confirm that.

So there you have it – from Birmingham to the Iranian Second Division title, with a couple of Europa League appearances and a stack of injuries in between. Funny old game, football.

Update 21 December 2011

Sam Oji has apparently now signed for Tamworth of the Blue Square Bet Premier

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2 Responses to “Where Are They Now? Part III”

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    Have you tried to email these fellas to ask them how they are doing now and what they thought of their expeinces at BCFC, assuming of course it’s easy to find out their email addresses! I like the idea of talking to people who’ve had close shaves with the blues and hearing their views.

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