JONJO SHELVEY’S first game for Blackpool was a resounding success – but he knows his second will be a huge challenge.
The Seasiders head to West Ham after the international break a week tomorrow, and midfielder Shelvey is a lifelong Hammers fan.
The Londoner is fully aware his presence in the visiting team will cause plenty of family friction at Upton Park.
But Pool’s latest signing says that’s a small price to pay for the new opportunity he is relishing at Bloomfield Road, after admitting his career had begun to go backwards at Liverpool.
Shelvey said: “I support West Ham, so next week is going to be quite emotional for me as a player.
“All my mates will be going to the game, but hopefully we can do them.
“I grew up in Romford and was a season ticket holder.
“When I played for Charlton at youth team level on a Saturday morning, I’d go and watch West Ham in the afternoon.
“But I’ll be trying to get one over them, although my dad probably won’t talk to me if I do.”
Charlton’s youngest first-teamer left the capital in a £1.7m move to Liverpool in summer last year, and he admits it was a culture shock.
He said: “When you go from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a very big pond, which I did by going from Charlton to Liverpool, I think it knocked me back a little bit.
“I wasn’t playing as well as I could and I wasn’t getting chances to prove my worth.
“But this move has given me a new burst of energy.
“I felt I had something to prove against Bristol City on Saturday, and I felt I proved it.”
Shelvey was in the Charlton team condemned to relegation from the Championship by a 2-2 draw with the Seasiders in April 2009, and he recalled one vital lesson about football at this level, which he took into his Pool debut.
He said: “Bristol City came out of the traps quickly, which is what teams do in the Championship.
“You have to earn the right to play, and as soon as we did that, we got the first couple of goals.
“That gave us confidence to go on and get more goals.”
Shelvey scored the second goal in a dream 5-0 debut, after his shot had resulted in Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s opener.
“It was the perfect day for me. I had my family in the stands, and it was just a great afternoon, capped off with a great goal.
“The shot for the first goal did swerve in the air quite a bit.
“I thought the keeper had it comfortably, but he spilled it and it was good to see Gary finish it.”
Despite a man-of-the-match debut, Shelvey is not taking his place in the side to face his beloved Hammers for granted.
He added: “Blackpool have a big squad and so there will be frustrated players who are not playing, but that’s football.”