Matt sounds war cry

YOU hear some footballers comparing a football match to a war or a battle.

Granted, Gary Brabin did resemble a tank, but a war? Come on.

Thankfully there's one player you won't catch using that analogy – Seasiders on-loan centre back Matt Jackson, for he has a hobby that must be pretty unique among professional players.

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Jackson is into military history and the Great War poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

'You what?' I hear you cry. Well, it's true.

"I'm a big reader of military history and I read about the famous anti-war poets," Jackson divulged.

"It was staggering to see people of all ages fighting for their country in the conditions that they had to contend with.

"We joke about going out to war on the pitch, but people make such a sacrifice to fight for their country, especially back in the day before there was all this technology used in warfare.

"There's the famous saying about football being more important than life or death. But this is just us playing the game we love. It puts it all into perspective."

While Bill Shankly (author of that famous line: "Some people say football's a matter of life or death. I say it's more important") might not agree, how refreshing it is to hear Jackson admit that football might not – contrary to what Sky and Rupert Murdoch think – be the be all and end all.

He's an interesting fella Jackson. It's his 36th birthday today and as he celebrates, possibly with a glass of wine and a documentary about Lloyd-George, he'll have plenty to reflect on – and not just a 17-year playing career, two promotions and an FA Cup winners medal.

He was born in Bedford, for instance, but as a young kid spent two years in the Egyptian capital Cairo where his father was working in oil exploration.


And it was here that Jackson got into football, albeit in a slightly dangerous way.

"My Arabic wasn't fluent so football became the common language," he explained.

"There was myself and another ex-pat lad and we had to fit in with all of the locals.

"We'd have a kick about in the street and cars would stop and wait until the ball went out of play.

"After the game we'd all hurl stones at each other in a big stone fight and then go home before turning up the next day to do it all over again."

Back in England and Bedfordshire, where the football was just as frenzied, the stone fights a little less so, Jackson represented his country at under 15 level but turned down the offer of an apprenticeship at Luton to concentrate on his A-levels – another example of a different attitude and opinion in comparison with many other pros.

That bold decision didn't exactly harm his career prospects. He can number Preston, Everton (where he lifted the FA Cup), Charlton, QPR, Birmingham, Norwich and Wigan among his clubs – a clear sign of just what a successful footballing life he has had.

Now at Blackpool for at least a month, Jackson is expected to make his second appearance for the club in tomorrow's clash with Crystal Palace, starting alongside his namesake Michael in the heart of the defence.

And when the game's over, Jackson will return home to his wife and two children ...and a horse and a sheep.

Let the man himself explain. "I prefer the rural life and my family live in a village just south of Preston, which is perfect for them as they ride our horse, Briar.

I get the less glamorous job of mucking out!

"We've also got Barbara the family sheep. When we lived in Norfolk we had a bit of land and Briar wanted a bit of company.

"A mate of mine who lived up the road was the local shepherd. He told us of these orphan lambs, so we picked Barbara and hand-reared her."

It's not everyday you hear a football player say that...