'Nobody speaks about what happens if you don't make it' - Hibs footballers help launch Back Onside mental health chat show

Three Hibs players have helped launch Back Onside’s new video series titled ‘The Changing Room Chat Show’, aimed at opening up the conversation surrounding mental health and breaking down the stigma around the subject, particularly for men.
Jimmy Jeggo, Mikey Devlin, and Joe Newell of Hibs discuss mental health in football with Back Onside's David Cox and Lee MairJimmy Jeggo, Mikey Devlin, and Joe Newell of Hibs discuss mental health in football with Back Onside's David Cox and Lee Mair
Jimmy Jeggo, Mikey Devlin, and Joe Newell of Hibs discuss mental health in football with Back Onside's David Cox and Lee Mair

Mikey Devlin and Jimmy Jeggo joined ambassador Joe Newell as well as former Dundee, Aberdeen, and St Mirren defender Lee Mair, and Brechin City forward and Back Onside patron David Cox, to discuss a number of topics in one of the changing rooms at the club’s East Mains training complex.

The charity partnered with the Easter Road side in late October, when Newell was announced as an ambassador, while former Easter Road players Marvin Bartley and Danny Swanson also serve in similar roles. The new video series, which launches on Sunday April 2, is based on the charity’s successful Changing Room Chats programme, which involves members visiting sports clubs of varying sizes to discuss all things mental health.

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A trailer released for the first episode features the Hibs trio plus Mair and Cox discussing young players fretting about contract offers and how it can impact their performances on matchdays.

Mair, who had a 17-year career and played in England and Scotland, says: “You have the dream of being a footballer and then all of a sudden, at 17 or 18, you’re told it’s not going to happen. It’s heartbreaking for some. We did a chat up at the Aberdeen youth team dressing room a couple of years ago, before Covid, and the amount of young boys who said they were stressed and worried about contracts – I’d forgotten about that.

"Dressing rooms are macho places; it’s hard to say, ‘I’m struggling with my mental health’ or ‘I’m scared I’m not going to get a contract’. That fear was coming across on a daily basis and they couldn’t perform properly. As a retired footballer – I stopped playing six years ago – I look back and think, ‘wow, that was there the whole time for us and we never had any help’. Now you’ve got loads of charities there to help people and I think that’s great, because everyone’s struggling. No matter who you are, everyone has their own issues.”

Devlin adds: “As a kid coming through the academy set-up, all you’re taught about is how to make it as a footballer and what you need to do to get to the next stage. In my experience, nobody at any point was speaking about what happens if you don’t make it as a footballer.”

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A social media post by the charity read: “This is very honest insight into some issues football players experience in their careers, and the guys touch on a lot of topics that fans may not understand or see but will hopefully highlight the pressure and worries footballers face."

Speaking when the partnership between Hibs and Back Onside was announced, Newell said: “I’ve been supporting Back Onside because of the work they’ve done with Danny [Swanson], who is one of my good friends. I saw first-hand how they helped him and wanted to show my support.

"I’m really happy that Libby and the team are helping the club out. It’s good that all the lads know there’s someone to speak to if and when they need it.”

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