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James Chambers
Position: Right Back / Right Midfielder
From: West Bromwich Albion - £250,000 - August 2004
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Useful, but Inconsistent


I "met" James Chambers once. It was just before the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final against Liverpool last season. I was walking up Occupation Road, fretting about getting into the ground in time, when I noticed him jogging gently in the opposite direction, away from the ground…

He sensed my look of puzzlement - "Left something in my car!" he laughed, and carried on his way. Someone else shouted after him to "give it a good go tonight" and he turned round and promised that the team would, still smiling.

He seemed a friendly guy, happy to exchange a few words with fans, even a few minutes before a big game. I found it quite touching that one of our players was having to nip out of the ground to fetch something (his boots?), just before kick-off - I didn't notice Steven Gerrard out in the car park. It also seemed to sum him up pretty well - he is, er, normal, not even a star within a fairly average second division side.

He initially joined the club on loan at the start of the 04/05 season, primarily as a full back, although his versatility showed as he played at full-back, centre-back and in midfield in his first stay. Early impressions were favourable - he could pass, tackle, was fast and liked to overlap. With respect to Lloyd Doyley, he added an extra dimension to our attacking play.

There was talk of a permanent move when the loan period was over, but that began to look unlikely. Just when we thought we had seen him for the last time, the move did happen and we got ourselves a useful addition to the squad. And he played. A lot. Forty league games plus five in the Carling Cup run and both games against Fulham in the FA Cup, to be exact. A good return on the investment.

Yet if you asked most fans to guess how many times he played, I wager they would say much fewer than that. You see, he just doesn't get noticed enough - he occasionally scaled the heights (two notable goals in the 5-2 Carling Cup thrashing of Southampton stand out), but he was also guilty of disappearing on too many occasions as our form dropped away in March and early April.

On balance, however, his pace and ability to play in a number of roles means he is useful to have around. In the comings and goings over the summer I feared he would go, but in fact Aidy seems to like him (pace, you see) and he even flirted with the captain's armband in some of the pre-season friendlies. He seems to have become a key member of the squad and I, for one, am glad about that. Hopefully he will develop along with the rest of our fairly youthful new side and continue to be an exciting attacking threat, as well as performing his defensive duties.

But when Aidy says he wants more goals from his full-backs, James must be one of the main targets - a goal in the league would be nice.

John Blake
Last updated: September 2005