‘I don’t miss football’ - Ex-Town star Tabb on his new life as a stable lad

Jay Tabb celebrates scoring for Ipswich Town in 2015 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jay Tabb celebrates scoring for Ipswich Town in 2015 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Former Ipswich Town midfielder Jay Tabb has spoken of his new career as a stable lad in racing - and said he doesn’t miss football.

Jay Tabb heads bravely away during a Town friendly with Cambridge in 2015Jay Tabb heads bravely away during a Town friendly with Cambridge in 2015

The 36-year-old, who retired in 2016 after three years at Portman Road, will return to work this month having been furloughed during the Covid-19 pandemic, and get back to his daily routine of 5am alarm calls at trainer Philip Hobbs’ yard in Somerset.

He mucks out before tacking up the horses, ready to ride at 7.40am. After four or five lots, he might take a nap or watch some races at lunchtime, while more mucking out and feeding takes up most of the afternoon.

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And the ex-footballer still harbours hopes of one day climbing into the saddle as a jockey, though he’ll need to cut weight from his current 12 stone frame.

Tabb, who also played for Reading, Coventry, Crawley and Brentford in his football career, which started at the age of 16, revealed that he fell out of love with the sport towards the end.

He told the Irish Sun: “When I was a kid growing up, I loved playing and when you’re a young pro, you still have that innocence about you.

“And some people continue to thrive but I got bored of it towards the end. I don’t know what it was, maybe becoming more of a business, social media, you do one bad thing and everyone is on your back.

“I’d say of the former players I speak to, maybe 25 per cent of them feel the same way I do. There are others who still love it and they might become a manager or an assistant.

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“And maybe if I’d had nothing else out there I would have gone down that road too, even with how I felt about the game.

“But I had another interest so it was good to have that to pursue. Otherwise it might have been tougher when I stopped playing.”

Tabb, who said that he still keeps in touch with former Town team-mates Jonathan Douglas and Noel and Stephen Hunt, added that he doesn’t miss the football life.

He said: “I played some five-a-side games last year with the lads from the yard and it didn’t really stoke the fire for me.

“I’m not missing it. I don’t regret retiring and if you offered me a contract to play for someone now, I’d prefer to be riding horses.

“I don’t miss football but there are similarities with racing which I like. It’s professional sport obviously and you’re part of a team.

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“It’s all-consuming, you’ve got to be dedicated, it takes over your life.

“But it’s what you want to do, so you don’t mind.”

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