In late September 2015 promising youngster James Regan was released by Somerset at the same time as Adam Dibble and George Dockrell. Here he talks to Sam Dalling about what he has been doing since and his career and sporting ambitions.
Life in professional sport can be tough. Life after professional sport can be even tougher.
One day you are cock of the walk, doing something you love for a living and surrounded by your closest allies. The next you are back to earth with a bump, jobless and having to figure out what to do next.
A select few get to stay in the game. Some feel lost and spend years drifting. Many fail to adapt to life outside the dressing room. But not ex-Somerset starlet James Regan.
Having made his first class bow back in 2012 the 22-year-old was released by the Cidermen at the end of last summer. Rather than wallowing in self-pity though the ex-Kings College pupil has thrown himself into the world of finance and, while admitting it was a bit of a whirlwind move, was quick to pay homage to those who have helped him adapt to his new surroundings:
“It’s coming up 12 months to the day since I started with Cooper Associates and I’ve been through a lot,” he said. “I’m thoroughly enjoying the new role though. I get to go out and meet people and am learning each day.
“It was a huge change from what I was used to but I’ve started and am finding it easier as the days go by. I can’t thank Lee and Sam (Cooper) enough for everything that they have done for me, both in a professional and a personal capacity.”
Despite no longer playing the game for a living, it would be nigh on impossible for the young wicketkeeper to become too detached. His new workplace is just a stone’s throw from the Cooper Associates County Ground, and of course his employer is the club’s main sponsor.
Cricket is a hot topic in the office with fellow former Somerset star Carl Gazzard amongst Regan’s colleagues, alongside Taunton St Andrews legend Kevin Parsons and Taunton CC skipper Jack Cooper. Staff outings to cricket HQ feature heavily in the summer months, and Regan outlined how the local feel of the firm gives them a huge advantage:
“The firm has a family feel about it and the people really do care so we are well received in South West”, he explained. “We’ve got a group of core advisors who all get on really well and it is a really exciting time now that the accountancy side of things has begun.
“Kevin Parsons has come in to direct that and it feels like it is the last piece of the puzzle and brings it all together.”
During the warmer months the right hander can still be found donning his whites as skipper of local club Taunton St Andrews. The Wyvern based outfit has forged strong connections with the county over the years, with Keith Parsons perhaps the leading example. Others to have turned out for both sides include twin brother Kevin, fast bowlers James Hayman and Michael Parsons, with the likes of Michael Leask, Mark Turner and George Dockrell also having appeared in the recent past.
While they are usually accustomed to challenging at the business end of the West of England Premier League table, 2016 was a disappointing year for the Saints who were relegated on the final day of the season after their shoot out with Corsham was abandoned.
But rather letting the setback get to him, Regan – who averages a shade under 40 in his 64 league outings – was quick to draw the positives from a gloomy scenario:
“We struggled a bit last year and we were missing a game plan,” he admitted. “With the lads we’ve got it was a surprise that we didn’t do better but to be honest the result was about right.
“As soon as the season finished our thoughts turned to the new season coming up but we are putting the foundations in and I believe we are an attractive proposition as a club.
“We’ve got a great group of core lads and if we can keep that together and bring in a few new additions we can go from strength to strength in the next few years.
“Eddie Byron is too good for it not to come off and Leasky tried really hard when he appeared – I’m full of confidence both of those guys will be a big part.
“Kevin is in there and is bringing on the youngsters and we’ve also got James Hayman who has played professional cricket. I think we will be a strong contender next year.”
Not content with just cricket, this week Regan is preparing for a sporting challenge of a different kind. The youngster is now on the books with Taunton Town, who face National League table toppers Barrow at Wordsworth Drive on Saturday for a place in the hat in FA Cup second round.
It will be the Peacock’s first appearance at this stage of the much loved competition in over thirty years and the town has been buzzing in anticipation since Leigh Robinson’s men saw of Hemel Hempstead at the second time of asking.
The multi-talented youngster began training with the club towards the end of his time at the Cooper Associates County Ground and, following a loan spell out at Chard last season, is working hard to break into an exciting first eleven:
“Prior to cricket I loved my football and I consider myself an OK player,” he said. “Leigh has brought me back in this year and it has been fantastic. The results speak for themselves and we are all so proud of the FA Cup success. It has been a really difficult side to break into and lots of us want to play.
“Everyone came down and earned their stripes in pre-season and as a group of lads we want to go to as high a standard as possible. We will endeavour to get promotion and our main goal has got to be the play-offs with Hereford looking like they are running away with it.
“But first we’ve got the FA Cup game and as a group we’ve got nothing to lose. The WhatsApp group has been buzzing and some of us may never ever get to the first round again. We are just going to go out there, enjoy it, give it everything and see what happens.”