InProfile: James Piercy

Piercy NFU Graphic(James Piercy’s graphic for the 2018/19 season. Photo: Jack Salt)

Tall, strong centre-halves are hard to come by these days, but North Ferriby United seem to have one with James Piercy. The 22-year old joined Ferriby in the middle of the 2017/18 season in the National League North and is looking to kick on his career further, after stints with Hull United and Hall Road Rangers. 

Piercy said that it was his dad that got him interested in football. “My dad brought me up going to watch Hull City and then brought me up watching Liverpool every week.” Piercy also added who his footballing idol was growing up and it was a certain Liverpool and England midfielder that he watched. “(Steven) Gerrard. Massively Gerrard. Everything he does I’m just in awe of. Watching him, he’s faultless. On the pitch, he’s got everything for me. Everything you need as a midfielder and he could probably of played a couple of years and dropped in at centre-half and done a good enough job, but he called time on his career at that time and he goes down as a legend of the game and he was my favourite player by far.” 

Piercy revealed that he started playing football from a very early age. “I think when I was five years old,” said Piercy. “My dad then took a team (Costello Jaguars) and I signed for that team; I think I was with my dad from the age of five till about sixteen and then I moved onto men’s football from there.”

The 22-year old started playing regularly in primary school and Piercy reminisced about his primary school team. “We had a good team at primary school! You’ve got Max Clark (Ex-Hull City/Vitnesse Arnhem), I played with him at school. I’ve played with Conner Harman (Hall Road Rangers) and everyone is in and around the Non-league scene now so we had a brilliant team at school.”

The centre-back has had a variety of positions in his career when starting off at five years old to now. “Early days, I was a striker, because I used to be rapid; I don’t know where that’s gone to be totally honest,” joked Piercy. “As I’ve lost my pace, I slowly moved back (positions). I was actually (in) midfield when I signed for Hull United. It wasn’t until Curtis Woodhouse, who came in, moved me into left-back at first and then dropped me into centre-half and then I went to Hall Road and Dave Riccardo played me in midfield again for the first few months of the season and again then moved back to centre-half, so I just might not be good enough in the midfield.”

Piercy’s story of getting into men’s football was a strange one as his job at McDonalds helped him into Hull United in 2014. “When I got to college, I got a part-time job at McDonalds and I was working there and McDonalds had a football game; it was like a charity game against Asda and it was on Dene Park,” revealed Piercy. “I went and played and I scored two and set-up one and I got a call off Jamie (Waltham) the next night saying ‘I’d like you to come down and trial for Hull United.’ Went down and I think I was in the reserves for the first couple of weeks and then I got my chance in the first team; I absolutely loved it!”

Piercy Hull United(Piercy when at Hull United. Photo: Elliot Dawson Photography; sent via @JamesPiercy2)

It was definitely a move that Piercy didn’t regret one bit, making the transition into men’s football. “It was just a totally different set-up from what I’d been used to, because it was my first real shot at a decent level and obviously fans coming down every week. I remember saying to myself ‘I want to be doing this, I want to push on’ so ever since then I’ve just tried to push on as much as I can.” 

Hull United had a famous stint, when Piercy was there, playing at Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers’ Craven Park, something Piercy enjoyed. “I’m a Rovers fan as well so it was good to play at Craven Park,” said Piercy. “It didn’t last too long like, but I was part of the team that played at Craven Park and it was good for the first few games but then obviously, it’s a rugby pitch, so it cut up massively and it was bobble central really to be fair on that pitch. It was a great sort of thing to be in and around a professional stadium. I know it was at rugby league, but in and around a stadium like that with the changing rooms and it was a great thing and a great experience for me personally.”

Piercy Hull United 2(Piercy in action for Hull United. Photo: Elliot Dawson Photography; sent via @JamesPiercy2)

However, Hull United started to suffer financial struggles to the threat of administration and was notified the team were getting kicked out of the NCEL Division One. Piercy talked about how the struggle and how this evolved into a move to Hall Road Rangers in 2016. “Hull United at the time were going through sort of administration problems and basically the team, we got notified that the team was getting kicked out of the NCEL Div One and because we had probably twenty points deducted throughout the season,” revealed Piercy. “My dad actually got a call off Dave Riccardo. I can’t remember how he got his number, but dad got a call of Dave Riccardo and my dad passed his number onto me. I went to meet Dave and Bill (Gill), who was at the time the assistant, I went to meet them at the ground and their vision at the time for Hall Road was something that I sort of, straight away, bought into and it was a great move as soon as I joined.”

Piercy HR(Piercy representing Hall Road Rangers. Photo: @JamesPiercy2)

The move for Piercy, at the age of nineteen, was a big one and Piercy revealed that his defensive partner Ash Dexter, who has now retired, developed him into a better player and person. “I played alongside Ash Dexter who is for me the the best centre-half I’ve had privilege to play with. He brought me on leaps and bounds as a player and also as a person. I owe a lot to him and also a lot to Dave (Riccardo), because he constantly showed faith in me when I signed for Hall Road, because I was only eighteen, nineteen. Obviously coming into men’s football, it’s a tough ask especially at centre-half, but he constantly showed faith in me and like I say we looked to kick on that year and we won the league.”

Hall Road Rangers won the NCEL Division One title in the 2016/17 season, a moment Piercy would never forget. “It was an amazing feeling. I mean throughout the season the talks was play-offs; play-offs, play-offs, play-offs. I remember one game, it was away at Hallam. They have a slope of pitch, tough place to go and they was around in and around the play-offs’ spots and that game we came away with a 1-0 win and ever since then that’s what sort of kicked us on really. I can’t remember losing too many games after that and it came down to the last game of the season. You’ll never see it again. Three teams on ninety three, ninety four points and whoever loses basically doesn’t go up automatic, so it was a barmy last day and we got a man sent off. They pulled it back to 1-1 and then luckily we got a winner and held on and it was an unbelievable feeling when we won that and it’ll be one that I’ll never forget.”

Piercy HR 2(Piercy in action for Hall Road Rangers. Photo: @JamesPiercy2)

Piercy’s title heroics was rewarded the following season with a move to North Ferriby United, who was plying their trade at National League North after relegation from the National League the season before and it was one man who made the move all happen. “Again, it was as soon as Jamie (Waltham) took over,” revealed Piercy. “I was actually speaking to Jamie a couple of weeks before hand at a Hall Road game, because I was injured and I was on the sidelines. He said to me about a possible move to Ferriby and I didn’t think nothing of it. I thought ‘oh well’ and then I found out he took over then as the owner and he gave me a call, straight away. There was no real sort of question for me whether I should go or not, because it was a chance to go and prove myself at a higher level and I got the call; it was couple of months in the offing. It was supposed to happen about a month or two before, but they had to get rid of certain players they had at the club at the time, who were on big money, so as soon as they got rid of that, I took the opportunity to come and play down here and I don’t regret it one minute.”

When asked about the jump in divisions to the National League North, Piercy said: “It’s massive. You have to be kept on your toes. Every minute of the game you have to stay concentrated or that’s what I’ve known to be one of the biggest things. Obviously fitness levels are always going to be higher so it took some adapting to that, but as soon as Chris Bolder gave me my chance, I don’t think I’ve missed a game since, maybe through injury, but other than that I haven’t missed a game since so it’s just been absolute revelation to be fair to play at National League North.”

When joining Ferriby, Piercy struck up a defensive partnership with Jack Mail, who also joined Ferriby at roughly the same time as Piercy, and Piercy has praised his fellow defensive partner. “I love Jack, he’s a good lad. He’s a nice kid, one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet and we have sort of hit the ground running to be fair together, because it’s like you probably look at it now and we still haven’t actually been a partnership for about a year! We’re both relatively young, I mean I’m twenty-two, he’s twenty-six, so talking has been a big thing we’ve tried to work on and hopefully the coming games now we can show that we’re good enough to keep clean sheets and show that on the pitch and actually do it.”

Piercy and Mail NFU.jpg(Piercy, far right, alongside defensive partner Jack Mail, far left, in action against Salford City in the National League North. Photo: @JamesPiercy2)

When reflecting on his time at Ferriby, he remembers some good times at the club, especially in the National League North. “One of the grounds we went to, again one of the moments were I thought ‘I want to do this again’ and ever since the last game of the season against, away at FC United of Manchester. The ground was unreal, like a professional set-up. They had 3,000 fans, they’re all chanting and I just thought to myself ‘I want to stay here and I want to do this again,’ so ever since then I’ve just tried to strive to be back where I can.”

However, Ferriby suffered a second successive relegation which for Piercy wasn’t easy to take. “Relegation’s never easy and it was a sad day on the last day of the season. Although when I came in it was sort of inevitable when I came in. I think about four games in if we didn’t win, we’re relegated, to me coming in so it was a big thing, but what the lads did was they kept going to be fair, every single lad, we kept going and dug in for each other and you saw it towards the end of the season. We started picking up results and we beat Bradford Park Avenue away and they was up there. We drew with Spennymoor, beat FC United (of Manchester) away, so we have beat some good teams out there and it showed that we didn’t just chuck the towel in as soon as we got relegated and it gave us that licence to, especially the players that have just come in, the licence to go and express yourself and try and prove yourself at this level and I think that a lot of lads did that. Relegation is never good to take. It’s never good to be apart of and you’ve probably seen that now that losing mentality of the club is still around. It’s just breaking that and I do believe and strongly believe that once it turns, and it will turn, once it turns that we will kick on.”

Piercy was rewarded for his hard work last season, by being named captain of North Ferriby United for the 2018/19 season, an honour he’s willing to commit. “I was totally shocked to be honest. Massive privilege. Chris (Bolder) said he had something to ask me when we were meeting and discussing about next season, this was pre-season time, and I went to meet him and he said ‘me and Robbo (Paul Robson) have made the decision from last season. You’ve impressed us that much and I want you to be the club captain’ and I was shocked to be fair. I was a bit ‘wow,’ but I’ve tried my best to take on that role and get round the lads, especially during these tough times at the minute. I’ve tried to keep all the lads together. Obviously, I’m a young captain so I’m still learning, but I want to continue to learn. I want to be a good captain for this club and I do want to continue to strive to turn this around.”

Piercy NFU v Buxton.png(Piercy wearing the captain’s armband away at Buxton in the Evo-Stik Premier League. Photo: @MarkLeighton13)

Emulating his footballing idol Gerrard, Piercy became captain of North Ferriby United and he talked about what previous manager Chris Bolder and assistant Paul Robson were like. “There’s literally not one bad word to say about Chris and Robbo. They was absolutely spot on, everything. The way they were with the lads, the way they set us up, it was spot on and we respected them massively as players and I think you could see that on the pitch; I love them to bits to be fair.”

However, Chris and Paul was removed by Ferriby in October 2018, with the club rock-bottom of the Evo-Stik Premier League and was replaced by Ferriby legend Paul Foot, alongside midfielder Joe Lamplough as his assistant with Piercy liking what they are trying to achieve. “They’ve been good since they’ve come in. They’ve stripped us right back down to basics and we’ve started again. He wants us to keep positive; positive with the banter in the changing rooms and we remain positive. He’s told us to basically look at it as we’re not a relegation side and I strongly believe that we’re not a relegation side. He’s told us to, at the moment, we’re a mid-table team and we fight towards being that, but it’s been good.”

Piercy still has his footballing career ahead of him, but the young defender says he’s taking it one step at a time. “I’m still only young so I’m not rushing to do anything. I want to continue learning and continue striving to achieve as much as I can in the game. I want to go as far as I can, wherever that takes me; I’m not really too sure at the minute. I want to play as high as I can and for as long as I can as well and I’ll see where that takes me, but I will continue to learn and learn off other people, like now Footy was a centre-half so I’m trying to take on board what he says to me and what Lamps says to me and everyone that I basically come into contact with me. I will try and learn off them and I will continue to work as hard as I can to play as high as I can.”

Piercy interview photo.jpg(I spoke to James Piercy after training at the Chadwick Builders Stadium, the home of North Ferriby United, and you can listen to the full interview below.)



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