BROWNE ON THE BALL: Jay Rollins, a rough diamond who is starting to sparkle

Jay Rollins.
Jay Rollins.

“A rough diamond.”

That was how Dennis Greene described Jay Rollins last summer.

Back then the Pilgrims attacker was only on trial at Boston United, hoping to catch the eye and earn a deal following his time with Armthorpe Welfare.

He didn’t do his cause any harm with a goal less than 45 minutes into his first trial game, a composed chipped finish in the 6-1 victory at Boston Town.

It’s fair to say that by the time that match at the DWB Stadium was over, Greene was already plotting what Rollins’ signature would look like on a contract.

Despite liking what he saw, Rollins was originally a punt, an understudy for the established Kaine Felix and a gamble that would either come off or see the player swiftly return to whence he came.

But during his time at the Jakemans Stadium, Rollins hasn’t been the type of player to look back.

Instead, his career trajectory has been like his playing style; forward, at pace, gathering momentum and barging aside anything that gets in his way.

Yes, there have been the injuries, the hamstring trouble and knee problem which kept him sidelined for spells of last season and earlier this campaign.

But the player - who spends his days putting up fences and weekends breaking down defensive barriers - has already spoken about his change in diet and gym routine, hoping it will give him every edge possible.

And you have to say that those changes, coupled with regular football and experience at National League North level, have seen him get better and better.

Rollins is an example of how hard work can begin to fulfil potential, something too many take for granted as they fall by the wayside.

In a division where players get by if they have pace, skill or a physcial presence, Rollins has all three in abundance.

And he can finish too, just as those goals against Darlington and FC United have proven.

The fact that Rollins appeared in every match in which he was fit last season showed how important he was to the team.

But six of those 34 appearances came from the bench.

It was a case of whether or not he would fit into that week’s game plan.

This season that has all changed. He is one of the first names on the team sheet, a player whose role will change but, if fit, he starts.

And that’s testament to his hard work and versatility.

Just 14 months ago he was a trialist, an understudy, a gamble.

That rough diamond may be far from polished, but it has plenty of sparkle.