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Scowcroft Reveals Sleeping Tablet Addiction
Friday, 10th Nov 2023 11:02

Former Blues striker James Scowcroft has revealed he suffered from an addiction to sleeping tablets during the latter stages of his career with Town.

Scowcroft, 47, came through the youth system with the Blues and went on to become a key man in George Burley’s late nineties/early 2000s and was the club’s Player of the Year in the 1999/00 promotion season.

Having helped the Blues to fifth in the Premier League and a UEFA Cup place during the following campaign, Bury St Edmunds-born Scowcroft left the Blues for Leicester in the summer of 2001, which he says was in large part down to the sleeping tablet problem which had developed over the past couple of seasons.

“In the last two years of my time [at Town], I had bad anxiety and I had to take sleeping tablets for it and I got this sleeping tablet, which several players got, there was another player at the club, I won’t name names,” he said during this week’s Life’s a Pitch TV.

“And I got this addiction to sleeping tablets. I had to take them, I had to take them at night before the game and it really impacted my performance a lot, and it was tough.

“It probably knocked my performance by about 40 per cent. You’d take tablets every day and on a night game you’d get anxious.

“I tried everything to try and get off it but in the end it was probably why I moved, almost, it was probably why I needed to move on to a fresh start.

“It was difficult to leave, really, really difficult. [Manager] George [Burley] was very good, he said, ‘I don’t want to sell you but there is interest and if it’s something you want to do, that’s fine’. He was really, really good.

“And I just thought it was probably my time. I’d had a great time, I would have loved to have played in Europe, it would have been brilliant, but I don’t regret moving.

“I didn’t really want to stay at a club for [all my career], I did want to experience and see what other clubs were like and I went to Leicester, which was an excellent club.

“But I think being a Suffolk lad, it was different playing for your home team. Everybody knew you, everybody was there, everyone was talking about the game, everyone was going to the game.

“I went to Leicester and I didn’t know one Leicester fan and all of a sudden it was just a different environment.

“And it was my career, which I wanted to push and get the most out of it and I left, Richard Wright left that summer and the club were on a different trajectory then, they were then buying players, they were spending a lot of money.

“I think maybe they thought they would be invincible and it was going to last for ever, and it doesn’t.

“And sadly that was 20 years ago, the last time we were in the Premier League, that was a long, long time ago.”

Scowcroft felt there was greater pressure playing for his local club: “It probably got to me, if I’m honest with you. It probably affected me and I knew maybe one of the answers was a different environment.

“It was a very high-pressured environment caused by elite players with elite mindsets and a manager that was relentless every day in training, I never trained as hard, I’ve never been pushed as hard.

“So maybe that was a personal decision to think, ‘Right maybe I need to try something else here’.”

Asked how Town helped with the situation, he added: “The club were good. There were only a couple of people who really knew. The doctor was very good, but it was a time where you look back and… I don’t have any regrets, but it changed.

“I went to Leicester they really looked after me, they were an established Premier League club because they got up in 1995, so the sports science was excellent and I had four good years there, and we went into the new stadium.

“But Ipswich is my club. If you’re from Suffolk, Ipswich Town means a lot to Suffolk, doesn’t it? And Suffolk needs Ipswich Town, it needs what’s happening now to the club.

“Suffolk’s my home, so there’s always an affinity, it’s always probably the first club I look for.”

Scowcroft, who these days works as a European scout with Crystal Palace, another of the clubs where he played, says the problem is now firmly in the past.

“I learnt to manage it and I got a lot of help when I was at Leicester and it sort of just went away,” he said.

“But at that time I had a three-year spell where it was tough. I’ve heard other people, I think there was a big article about someone else recently [Dele Alli] talking about it.

“It all kicked-off on a pre-season tour, I don’t know what happened, I just had problems sleeping and the doctor said, ‘You should try a sleeping tablet’. It was the worst thing he did to me, the worst thing.”

Photo: Action Images

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WestSussexBlue added 11:07 - Nov 10
It would seem JET must have found some during his time here.

Medblue added 11:11 - Nov 10
A real shame he made the decision to leave in 2001, he would have been an excellent member to have in the European squad. As he says, some of the decisions taken that summer led the club in a different direction and things started to completely unravel with the new signings and the stadium being rebuilt…

ChampionsofInnsbruck added 11:26 - Nov 10
Losing David Johnson (months prior), James Scowcroft and Richard Wright was a key part in why we were relegated. They were the core of a very good squad for years prior to promotion. I also did not think Burley handled Wilnis and Naylor well, who were in essence all but frozen out by the end of 2001, and they were big players for the squad. The people brought in to replace them, the big money ones, just weren't as dedicated to the cause.

JewellintheTown added 13:05 - Nov 10
£3.1 million for Finidi George in 2001! 7 goals / 35 apps. £440k per goal + wages!

Marinersnose added 13:34 - Nov 10
This is unfortunately so commonplace among elite level players. It doesn’t appear to be recognised or dealt with. I know historically at international level a huge percentage of players take them the night before a game.
Maybe time for the FA to act.

howsey51 added 13:36 - Nov 10
Jewellinthetown- Finidi George was a winger and not a striker so judging on goals is not a fair measure. Plus our top scorer that season had 10 goals and he had 7. I’m not saying he was a good investment, but judge on appropriate data. Strongly believe if we hadn’t lost Richard Wright that year we would have stayed up.

Wickwar_Blue added 13:46 - Nov 10
I seem to remember James getting a lot of stick from a minority of fans (Jamie Clapham similarly). I have a memory (too random to have made it up) of one of the ‘bedsheet brigade’ taking a homemade banner to a match that read “The Scow Must Go.” I think he may have been blamed in some way for one of the Burley era play off frustrations.

Underrated player.

borge added 08:12 - Nov 11
That's right Wickwar_Blue. Early in his Town career he took a massive amount of stick and very unfairly too. There was one game where a load of people held up red cards as a protest against him. It was all because people couldn't understand that he wasn't an out and out striker, his role was to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Can't remember any other Town player receiving treatment like that and to think that he was one of our own!

Cadiar added 12:10 - Nov 11
Jewellery, George was brilliant until he got a very nasty injury. I remember his debut, he was untouchable. When he returned he was playing out of position & didn't know what his role was supposed to be.

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