FC Isle of Man crest


So, where did it all start for you Sam?

I started football a little later than most at around 8 years old. One of my mates, Josh Cain, brought me down to an Onchan training session. From then on I played for Onchan from u8’s all the way to senior football before moving to Corinthians for a short spell and then onto Douglas Royal. I started out as a left back before moving into midfield around u13’s. Because of covid, I didn’t have a long time in Manx senior football due to FCIOM being founded. I was asked to come down to trial for the very first training squad and managed to get selected.

As well as playing for Island representative sides you went for trials at Burnley how did they come about?

I represented the Island at every youth age group and when I reached the u18s at 15 years old, I fortunately received a trial at Burnley. I can’t remember entirely, but I believe Lewis Qualtrough, the u18s island coach at the time, had a part to play in it, so thanks to him!

What do the trials entail?

My trial was across 3 days, the first day was a friendly for the U16s followed by 2 days of training with the team. We did technical training, gym work, video analysis and recovery treatments. I went across with my mum and sister; my relatives in Chester also came up to watch. We had to fund the travel and accommodation, but the club provided kit and food. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful and would need to move to England permanently for them to consider offering me a scholar.

31st July 2021. Maine Road away. Was it the realisation of a dream? Describe your emotions that day?

It was extremely surreal for me as I did not expect to feature much in the entire first season, then found myself not only in the first squad, but in the starting XI. I was only 18 at the time and to represent the Isle of Man in our first game in the English football pyramid was a proud moment. Unfortunately, we drew the match, but we all knew it was only the start of something bigger.

Did you expect the first season to be as success- ful as it was, both in the league and cup?

We have an exceptional squad so it’s not a surprise that we have won trophies, however, doing it in the first season was probably unexpected due to going through the adjustment period from Manx to English football. The main surprise for me was the number of people attending the games, it was amazing to see the whole island supporting us and packing out the Bernabowl.

Moving to Loughborough Uni as FCIOM started must have created logistical challenges for you getting to games as well as commencing your degree?

I moved to Loughborough after playing the first two months of the season and continued to play while at university by travelling by train to away games and by plane back for home games. This was extremely taxing as I’d have to wake up at 5:30am on a Saturday to get the train to Manchester for a 11am flight. Therefore, I decided that while at Uni I’d focus on my degree and train/play when I’m at home during the Summer, Christmas and Easter.

You played for your Uni team alongside Sid Batty and both achieved notable success in the BUCS cup. Tell us about that.

Yes, Sid and I coincidentally started that very first Maine road game together in Centre Midfield, and ended up going to Loughborough University at the same time. We managed to win the league and cup with our university team, with both of us scoring in a 2-1 extra time win in the final.

Confirm or deny you are related to Leighton Baines of Everton.

Haha, growing up I always got this question. But yes I am, not closely related, but I believe we are!