Young keeper reflects on unforgettable loan
Jon Flatt has revealed the “unforgettable experience” of helping Cheltenham Town back into the Sky Bet Football League and how he hopes is successful loan spell will benefit his career at Wolves.
The 21-year-old keeper played the last ten games of the season after joining the Robins, in which they picked up 22 points to clinch promotion – and the National League title – by a 12 point margin.
It wasn’t always that close, and Flatt admits he relished the challenge of some tense and vital fixtures as Cheltenham sealed their success in the home straight of the season.
“I don’t think I could have picked a better loan,” says Flatt.
“When I went there I think we were a point clear with ten games to go.
“It looks now like we won it comfortably because we won it by 12 points but there were some stages when it wasn’t that comfortable at all!
“There were maybe three high pressure games which really defined the run-in and we really did well in those games.
“To go on and win the league was a great feeling, and is something I will never forget in my life.
“I spoke to a lot of the lads at Wolves here and some of them have achieved promotions in their career.
“They told me before I left that if it did happen and Cheltenham got promoted to make sure I made the most out of it and celebrated it because promotions don’t come around too often.
“So there has been a bit of celebrating done and I have really enjoyed the whole experience.”
Flatt admits he learned a great deal from the ten game period, including the need to be mentally tough in those fixtures when Cheltenham were on top.
“The football side has gone really well,” he says.
“I played ten games and picked up four clean sheets and the team took 22 points from the ten games which is a good return.
“We have had a couple of games on telly and there were a few when the pressure has been on and that has been a good challenge.
“It has been a bit different for me than playing Under-21 football at Wolves.
“Going to a team at the top of the league, they are top of the league for a reason.
“In some games I didn’t have loads to do, but then maybe at 1-0 up “I have had to make an important save, or a match-winning save to keep us ahead.
“That was probably the biggest thing I learned, about the mental side of the game, to stay switched on and ready.
“Playing Under-21s it is often quite end to end and you are always involved in the game whereas this was a different sort of challenge.
“There was pressure involved with being top of the table but that is why we all want to be footballers and that is why we want to enjoy that pressure.
“Thankfully everything went well and it has been the best part of my career so far.”
For Flatt now it is all about building on the successful loan and making more progress next season.
Wolves have boasted some top class goalkeepers in recent years, and competition is always intense, but he is confident that – with the club having taken up the year’s option on his contract – he can develop further whether that is challenging for the first team or going out on loan.
“Hopefully this can propel my career here at Wolves or on loan again next season,” said the Wolves Academt graduate.
“I have had a taste of playing senior football week-in week-out and want to kick on now, and use the experiences I have picked up at Cheltenham to show the gaffer here I am ready to send me out again on loan.
“Wolves have been great in keeping an eye on my progress.
“Pat (Mountain) has been to a few games when he could and I think someone from the club came to watch me in pretty much all of the games.
“For me to know they are there shows that they are interested in how I am doing and that has been a massive thing for me.
“Hopefully they have been able to see what I can do and that will stand me in good stead for next season.
“If someone had offered me ten games at the start of the season with a promotion from the Conference then I would have taken that all day long.
“I have been on the bench here a few times as well.
“As a player you have to remain over patient over a long season and you never really know what is just around the corner.
“Only one goalkeeper can play, and I have just got to make sure I am ready if the opportunity comes or ready to go out on loan again like I did this season.”
To go on and win the league was a great feeling, and is something I will never forget in my life