Upcoming MatchDartford v Taunton Town/February 24, 2024/Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park

DARTFORD FC | IN CONVERSATION WITH JERNADE MEADE

Last Saturday saw Dartford host Oxford City at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Defender Jernade Meade featured in our matchday programme that day. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

Jernade Meade made the left-back position his own at Dartford, before an injury interrupted his progress last season. Circumstances dictated that he leave for Hemel Hempstead during the summer, but the lure of Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park was too big for him to turn down…

And his arrival has brought many smiles and cheers, as one of Dartford’s favourite players has returned and is in fine form. Jernade has already made six appearances (four starts) since his return, and scored his first goal of the season at Braintree Town, proving how important he will be for Alan Dowson.

As our conversation begins, it’s clear that Jernade is pleased to be back, “I left the club because it made sense at the time, but I always had a feeling I’d be back. I didn’t know it would be mid-season, but that’s how it worked out. I’m really happy to be back, as I feel I have a great relationship with the fans and all the staff here. It’s a proper club!”

And, it’s perfectly clear what his intentions are, “…My ambitions are to get promoted. We all want it. Preferably automatic promotion, even though we know that it’s a tall order at the moment. But it’s still possible. If we can’t manage that, then we have got to finish second for the advantages in the playoffs. We all believe and we have a great team.”

Inspiring words from our latest recruit, who is pleasing on the eyes to watch, as he defends with a high intensity and uses his explosive pace to race down the left-flank to help the attackers. But where did it all begin for Jernade?

“Well… I was told that from a baby, I always had an interest in football and always had a ball nearby!” Then, at the age of around 7-8, his grandfather took him and his uncle to their local team Bramingham. That became Jernade’s first ever team and he remained there until being scouted by Arsenal.

He remained with the Gunners for nine years, making his debut in football with the North Londoners and getting his scholarship there. It was during this period that a young Jernade realised what possibilities were available to him… “I think that when I got my scholarship at Arsenal and went full-time, I began to realise that this could be a career for me.”

After nine years in London, Jernade moved up to Wales where he signed for Swansea. A loan move to Luton Town was then followed by four years in Scandinavia. First up was two years in Sweden with AFC Eskilstuna, where he contributed to the side’s promotion to the country’s top-flight, Allsvenskan. However, the side were unable to retain their position in the league and Jernade moved on to Norwegian side Aalesund FK, where he remained for two years.

“Unfortunately, I injured my knee and spent a majority of my first season on the sidelines. However, in the second season, we won the league and got promoted to the top-flight, Eliteserian.”

At the end of his contract, Jernade returned to England whilst negotiations with a couple of other Eliteserian clubs continued, before the COVID-19 outbreak stopped active life on earth… “Teams were too scared to commit to contracts at that time and I was unlucky that my contract had expired at the wrong time. So, before you knew it, I was out of football for a year, which is very hard to get back into. I decided that I just needed to get back playing regularly and Dartford came calling…”

Of course, we’re all aware of what happened next but, Jernade’s back now and looks happier for it. And, he’s fully focused on the club and his fitness, “…I did have a job outside of the game before I re-signed for the club. I was delivering medication to hospitals, pharmacies, and patients. But, I stopped because I wanted to focus on getting back to my full fitness.”

In order to keep fit, Jernade has a specific routine which he sticks to… “I aim to get to the gym around midday to do one of the programmes I’ve set for myself… either legs, upper-body, core, or just a stretch day. It all depends on the day and how I’m feeling.”

Once he’s been in the gym for a couple of hours, he’ll then go and grab a cup of coffee and relax, before heading home. His personal time is spent either listening to podcasts or watching a series… “I’ve just finished watching ‘The Traitors’, which is a great watch, I recommend it.” Then he’ll sort himself out some dinner and relax watching football, if there’s any on.

He also loves playing his PS5, especially Call of Duty… “I was literally addicted… like, too much! HaHaHaHa! I’ve given it a rest though… I haven’t played it in a while because, I know that once I start, I won’t come off again! HaHaHaHa!” Jernade also enjoys going to the cinema whenever there’s a decent film on, “The last movie I went to watch was Avatar, which was a great movie.”

Like many footballers, Jernade has superstitious tendencies despite claiming that he’s not superstitious… “During warm-up I always go out behind Bonner. I don’t know why, it’s just something that’s stuck. I also believe in God, but I don’t follow any faith yet.”

He also has his heroes and personal inspirational people that he holds close to his heart, particularly his Mum. “Mum was definitely my inspiration growing up. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realise the sacrifices she made and how hard it would’ve been driving me to London to train 2-3 times a week, as well as to a game at the weekends, all whilst having to take care of my younger brothers.”

Jernade is also a fan of Chelsea, so it’s no surprise to hear that his footballing inspirations include the likes of Gianfranco Zola and Ashley Cole, as well as Real Madrid left-back Marcelo.

Interestingly, this pacey left-back who has been blessed with a sweet left foot actually writes with his right hand, “…Yeah, that’s about as interesting as it gets… HaHaHaHa!” Yet, his main point of focus is to get promoted with Dartford and to remain a Dart for the foreseeable future, whilst keeping an eye on his personal future… “My next step is to plan what I’ll be doing after my football career. It’s something that I’m definitely looking in to.”

For the time being though, he’s Dartford’s number 23 and is focused on that. And, as we come to the end of our discussion, Jernade has a few words for the Dartford faithful, “Keep on giving us the unreal support! You guys are literally the 12th man on match days. With you guys behind us, we will get promotion! UP THE DARTS!!”

By Chris Palmer