The story of the man behind the nickname ‘Trialist H’.
Jonathon Margetts grew up in South Yorkshire, in the minster town of Doncaster and from an early age supported Manchester United as they were the club that his dad would take him to watch every weekend until the young forward started to devote his Saturdays to playing football. Jonathon’s earliest memory of football was when he, his dad and his godfather would play football every night on the fields behind his house, this is where his competitiveness and eagerness to improve his football ability was found, ‘I used to cry because they’d never let me win’. However, he admits that the desired profession wasn’t always to be a footballer ‘The plan was always to be a doctor, due to being very academic at school; my mum was gutted when I chose football instead of continuing my education’. Passed on from his father, his love for football meant he was knowledgeable about the sport, he says ‘I knew about Tranmere, I just didn’t realize how big the club was, I had played at Prenton Park once before with Hull reserves’.
In the summer of 2012, the forward would sign his first professional contract at Hull City as he came through as an academy graduate. However, Jonathon’s greatest learning curve came when he played for non-league Gainsborough; he says ‘I definitely learnt the most at Gainsborough. I was 20 at the time and it was my very first taste of men’s football. I played 13 games and scored 10 goals, it turned me into a man’.
Following his loan spell at Gainsborough, Margetts had loan spells at Harrogate Town and Cambridge United. It was in the summer of 2015, when the 22 year old forward first heard of Gary Brabin’s interest for him to join the newly relegated national league club of Tranmere Rovers. ‘I first learnt of Tranmere’s interest when I was on holiday. I was close to signing for Doncaster Rovers but I felt that I had more of a playing opportunity at Tranmere’. The South Yorkshire born forward looks back in slight regret of this decision ‘Looking back now, I probably made a mistake as I’d have played a lot more at Doncaster but my decision to join Tranmere was a decision that I felt was right at the time’.
The Tranmere manager that brought Margetts to the club was the newly appointed Gary Brabin. ‘I was surprised when I first met the manager, I’d heard that he was a hard physco but he was really the opposite, he was softly spoken and hardly ever lost his temper with the team. He was a good man and someone who I liked a lot’. Jonathon believes ‘The problem was that he was too friendly with some players and the lads knew it, the atmosphere in the dressing room was sometimes very awkward’. Margetts’ first game was a friendly against a Wirral based non-league club of Vauxhall Motors, he scored four goals and was named ‘Trialist H’. ‘Before the game at Vauxhall, I’d been training with Tranmere for a week, but it’s never easy playing a game without knowing all of the names and how they play’. ‘The game at Vauxhall was a bit of a mad game, I played well and I managed to score four goals, I was pleased with my performance’. However, a contract was only offered to the forward after his second pre-season game. ‘I signed a contract at a time that was difficult for Tranmere fans, they had recently experienced back to back relegations so were understandably frustrated and the players could tell’. Going into the season, the forward believed that the expectation of promotion was reachable ‘When the season started, I expected us to get promoted. I’d never played in the league before and was slightly arrogant thinking the league would be easier than it was. It’s such a hard league and there were some really good players in it. I don’t know how our squad compared with others but I thought the quality we had was strong’. Jonathon says that the team was quite tightly knit at the club, ‘My closest friend was winger Adam Mekki, I lived with him’. ‘There was also a car school of: I, James Norwood, Martin Riley and Ritchie Sutton we became very close through this and would go out with our partners quite a bit’. Unsurprisingly to Tranmere fans, based on his behavior at an end of season awards night, Andy Mangan provided the team with good entertainment. ‘My funniest memory was Christmas Day, we were training on the pitch at Prenton Park and we was wondering where Andy (Mangan) was, we turned around to see him running down the steps from a stand fully naked with only his boots on, he ran on the pitch and started slide tackling people, it was a great laugh’. He believes that one factor that didn’t help the team was the understandable frustration of the fans, ‘As soon as the performance wasn’t right we were booed and I believe it was more of a reflection of the past few seasons than the past few performances’. Margetts was only a Tranmere for one season, he scored two goals (both at home to Bromley) in ten appearances and had loan spells at Stockport County, Altrincham and Southport. He is disappointed with how his time at the club went. ‘I’m definitely disappointed with how my time at the club went. I believe I was the best player throughout pre season but I didn’t kick a ball for the first three competitive games. I remember speaking to the Lincoln manager (Danny Cowley) about my frustration at Tranmere the following year, he said that they’d done a lot of analysis on me when we played them for the second game and he couldn’t believe that I didn’t play. After that I was in and out and I never managed to really put a run of games together. As a striker you need a run of games to be sharp, so it was hard’.
In the summer of 2016, Margetts’ initial one year contract ended at Tranmere and he went on to sign for fellow promotion rivals Lincoln City. Jonathon says that he was very pleased with the management at Lincoln, ‘The Cowley’s are by far the best managers that I’ve worked for. Their attention to detail is frightening and their football knowledge is ridiculous. But above all, they’re top top people’. He goes on to explain one factor that was the difference between the Tranmere side that he played for and the Lincoln side that he won promotion with. ‘The difference between the Lincoln side to the Tranmere side that I played with wasn’t too much to do with ability. The team spirit and morale was 100 times better’. Although the forward has a lot of respect for his team mates at Tranmere he had no sympathy for them when Tranmere failed to achieve promotion and Lincoln won the league title ‘When I got promoted with Lincoln, I had no sympathy for my team mates at Tranmere. I’m sure if they had won promotion the last thing they would think of is me!’.
Margetts is now working on his previous academic skills to be successful in his newly forced role due to an unfortunate injury. ‘Unfortunately, I had to retire from professional football at the age of 24 due to a knee injury. I’ve started a physio degree and set up my own sports massage clinic, so once I’ve fully qualified I’d love to be one of the best physio’s around for sports people and private clients!’
To finish the interview, I asked him who would feature in his best starting eleven of players that he has played with and who would he like to manage his selected eleven ‘The best eleven that I have played with is: Rory Watson, Jordan Clarke, Harry Maguire, Liam Cooper, Connor Townsend, Stephen Dawson, Neal Bishop, Tom Cairney, Duane Holmes, Matt Rhead and Jarrod Bowen’ ‘I would choose the Cowley’s to manage that eleven’.
I would like to thank Jonathon Margetts for his time answering the questions that I have gave to him and wish him well in his new physio degree and sports massage clinic work!