FOUR months since being released by Hearts, Jamie Mole’s once-promising career has ground to a halt. He is without a club and spent most of the summer training alone. Only the good grace of John McGlynn, who has offered training facilities at Raith Rovers, is saving him from complete obscurity.
Trial periods at Hamilton and Gillingham failed to secure 23-year-old Mole a deal after his Hearts contract expired in May. He admits he is now at a standstill. Training with Raith won’t pay bills and financial constraints throughout football mean he, and hundreds of others, are scrambling for clubs six weeks into the new season.
That Mole isn’t down in the dumps is down to his stereotypical Geordie traits. The bubbly personality and thick skin are serving him well during the most harrowing period of his footballing life. He didn’t take rejections from Hamilton’s Billy Reid and Gillingham’s Andy Hessenthaler to heart but is candid enough to acknowledge his present difficulties.
Mole will consider any full-time club willing to offer him a contract, whether it be in Kirkcaldy, Kettering or Kuala Lumpur. He touched the giddy heights of Champions League qualifiers with Hearts in 2006, but five years on fate has yanked him back down to earth.
“I’ll consider anywhere and anything really,” he told the Evening News. “I’ve got a mortgage to pay so I’ll take anything that pays the bills. I’m not too bothered where it is. I wouldn’t want to play part-time football so that rules out the Second and Third Divisions in Scotland. The First Division would be fine, or anywhere in England, or abroad. Just anything.
“I wouldn’t mind going abroad at all, even to somewhere far-flung. It would be a change and a fresh start. I’d go out there trying to impress because I just need to play week in, week out. I’m not match fit at the moment, I wouldn’t even say I’m fit because I’ve only been doing runs by myself. It’s hard doing that because it’s so different from training in a group. I need to get in a team and get playing.
“I’m definitely at a standstill. I can’t get a club and I’ve been training by myself. I’ll wait and see what happens at Raith and if my agent can get anything. I did pre-season at Hamilton. That was the first thing I was offered by my agent. I was there for three weeks but Billy Reid turned round and said ‘no’. Then I went down to Gillingham about four weeks after that but nothing came of it.
“I’d just been doing running by myself and then John McGlynn asked me a couple of weeks ago if I wanted to go and train with Raith. Obviously I knew him from when he was at Hearts and I was on loan there before. He just said I was welcome to go and train there so, obviously, I jumped at it. John’s been really generous and this helps me keep ticking over in case anything does come up.”
Mole’s early appearances for Hearts hinted at a future in stark contrast to his current predicament. He was promoted to the first team as a teenager after moving north from Newcastle’s Newburn Boys Club. His debut came under George Burley in September 2005 in an unremarkable League Cup defeat by Livingston at Almondvale, but the following season he burst to life.
With Valdas Ivanauskas in charge, Mole, then still only 18, struck three goals in seven games at the beginning of season 2006/07 and looked an ideal foil for Mauricio Pinilla. However, that proved to be his pinnacle at Tynecastle. Subsequent loan spells with Livingston, Queen of the South, Dunfermline and Raith indicated he would soon be surplus to requirements.
“When I first went up there I really enjoyed it,” he continued. “I think I scored three goals in seven games for Hearts, then it became three goals in ten games and eventually I ended up going to Livi on loan. Next it was Queen of the South on loan and so on and so forth. I ended up out the picture when Jim Jefferies came in.”
A public slating by Ivanauskas did him little favours following a UEFA Cup exit at the hands of Sparta Prague. His crime was that he missed a scoring chance early in the game and his tender years did not spare him the Lithuanian’s wrath. However, Mole’s resolve had already kicked in at a time when Vladimir Romanov’s managerial rotation policy was in full swing.
“I just took things with a pinch of salt where managers are concerned, especially when I was that young. I didn’t really think anything of it. It doesn’t really help that there were nine or ten managers at Hearts during my time there. Every time a new manager came in I always thought I was in his plans because I was in the team. The last couple of managers haven’t really fancied [me], which happens in football. When I first came up to Hearts I wanted to impress and I thought I did well. God knows what happened, it seemed to just go downhill from there.
“It’s been very difficult since I left. I’ve been asking my agent but he says nothing’s happening because everyone’s got their players. There must be loads of people in this position. I’m not too sure if anything will happen at Raith. They let a lot of players go and I think they are struggling financially, so I’ll just have to see if anything develops. Maybe I can get something out of it, maybe it’s just training.”
Mole continues to live in hope that his early success with Hearts does not end up being his only career highlight. Experience has taught him to stay humble, and a nicer guy you could not meet. His personality is not in question but he knows he will need every ounce of character to survive these troubled times.