Matt Jarvis: The East End provider
The West Ham winger tells Ed Aarons a successful partnership with Andy Carroll can end his 'one-cap wonder' status
Friday 30 August 2013
It's a notable club, although one that Matt Jarvis would prefer he was not in. At the last count, 330 players have made a solitary appearance for England, with Fabio Capello handing the Guildford-born winger his chance in March 2011 during a friendly against Ghana at Wembley as a 70th-minute substitute for Jack Wilshere.
More than two years have passed since then and despite not being named in Roy Hodgson's squad for next month's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, Jarvis is itching for another opportunity to shed the "one-cap wonder" tag.
After five years at Wolves, his move to West Ham last summer was for an initial fee of £7.5m, rising to a then club-record £10.75m with appearance clauses, a figure that has since been surpassed by the purchase of Andy Carroll from Liverpool.
Carroll has yet to start a game this season due to injury as West Ham have picked up four points from their opening two matches against Cardiff and Newcastle. The 2-0 win against Cardiff on the opening day was particularly satisfying for Jarvis as he ended another unwanted statistic by setting up Joe Cole for the first goal, having last season created the most goalscoring chances (46) without an assist in the entire Premier League.
Now with their star forward closing in on his return from an ankle injury, Jarvis is hoping they can strike up a partnership that it will be impossible for Hodgson to ignore.
"With the supply that we are capable of providing, Andy could score as many goals as he wants this season," Jarvis says. "It's great for a wide man to be able to look up and know that he is willing to run through brick walls to try and get on the end of a cross. We got Andy very early on in the summer and have just signed Stewart [Downing] so I think everyone is excited, especially after the season that we had last year.
"I think we have a lot of quality in the wide areas this year with Joe and [Ricardo] Vaz Te as well so hopefully I can play well for West Ham and give myself a chance of making the England squad. It's something that you always want if you've had the taste for it and now we are obviously in a World Cup year as well so that would be a fantastic achievement."
Should he make it, Jarvis could also get the chance for a long-awaited decider with Joe Hart. The England goalkeeper is known as one of the best table-tennis players in the England squad but met his match when he came up against the son of Nick and Linda – who just happened to have spells as British No 1s during the 1980s and went on to establish table tennis supplies company Jarvis Sports the year Matt was born.
"He beat me early on but after I'd played a little bit then I beat him," Jarvis recalls. "I was very rusty because I hadn't played for a long time. But after a bit of a warm-up I got my own back on him! I think quite a few footballers are into it actually because most clubs will have a table at the training ground. It's a good thing to do to relax."
Jarvis excelled at several sports as a teenager, winning county titles in swimming and athletics and achieving the rare distinction for a footballer of 10 GCSE at grades A to C. Most of his schoolwork may have been completed on the way to and from races and football training but having family support from two former athletes was clearly a major advantage.
"Obviously my parents have been a big influence on my career," he says. "When I was growing up I used to do a different sport every night but it wasn't because I was pushed into it, it was what I wanted to do. Swimming, athletics, cross country... whatever it was I just enjoyed the competing, and it gave me a base fitness that I've always had."
Not that his football career has been straightforward. Jarvis suffered the same fate as his older brother Ben when he was released by Millwall aged 16, eventually moving to Gillingham on the now-defunct YTS scheme. Within 12 months, he had made his first-team debut as a substitute against Sunderland after a bout of flu left player-manager Andy Hessenthaler short of bodies.
By the end of that first season, chairman Paul Scally was forecasting the winger would play for England before he was 24. Scally's prediction was out by about six months.
"Being at Gillingham gave me a good grounding because I had the chance to play in the first-team when I was 17 and gain some real experience," Jarvis says. "It was a big plus to play in games in front of proper crowds, in games that really meant something. That helps prepare you for the future, which I don't think you get from reserve-team matches.
"A lot of the bigger clubs are getting hold of the players at a much younger age and they tend to come through the academy system. It can work both ways because they are getting the chance to play with world superstars even if they may have to wait a bit longer for their chance in the first team. But if they can go on loan to get the experience, that can make up for that. I'm really pleased the way I've done it."
By the time he moved to Wolves in 2007, he had racked up more than 100 appearances for Gillingham but injury problems meant it was not until his second season that Molineux saw the best of him. Mick McCarthy's 2009 Championship-winning side survived comfortably in the Premier League at the first attempt, with Jarvis winning his international call-up the following year as they avoided relegation by a single point.
The disastrous 2011-12 campaign that saw them eventually succumb after McCarthy was unceremoniously dumped halfway through the season is still a difficult memory. But while Jarvis is saddened at the plight of his former club, who are now in League One, he believes they provided him with the right grounding to be successful at the top level.
"I had five great years at Wolves and it gave me a great experience of playing in the Premier League. When I moved to West Ham for a record fee there was always going to be expectation on my shoulders but you have to be mentally strong and just play your best to show the fans what you can do. I was used to playing in front of passionate home supporters at Molineux so I think that helped. Hopefully I showed them that last season and can continue that this season and score a few more goals."
With none of the sides currently above them playing tomorrow, a win against Stoke tomorrow could even see West Ham go top of the Premier League table, even if their No 7 is not the sort of guy who will be looking too far ahead.
"We've had a good start again and that's what helped us last year," he says. "If we can build up some momentum again then we just have to see how far we can go."
All the way to Brazil, if Jarvis gets his way.
Roy Hodgson's one-cap wonders
Since Matt Jarvis became the 1,173rd player to feature for England when replacing Jack Wilshere against Ghana in 2011, another 10 players have joined the list of 330 one-cap winners:
Martin Kelly (v Norway (a), May 2012) – played three minutes
Jack Butland (v Italy (n), Aug 2012) – 45 minutes
John Ruddy (v Italy) – 45 minutes
Jake Livermore (v Italy) – 21 minutes
Jonjo Shelvey (v San Marino (h), Oct 2012) – 24 minutes
Steven Caulker (v Sweden (a), Nov 2012) – 74 minutes
Raheem Sterling (v Sweden) – 85 minutes
Ryan Shawcross (v Sweden) – 16 minutes
Carl Jenkinson (v Sweden) – 16 minutes
Rickie Lambert (v Scotland (h), Aug 2013) – 23 minutes
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