Crawley Town midfielder Jack Payne can't wait for new season to begin

Crawley Town midfielder Jack Payne is itching to get the new campaign underway.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 1:17 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 1:24 pm

The 29-year-old officially joined the Reds from National League outfit Eastleigh on July 1, after three seasons at the Hampshire club.

Payne has signed an initial one-year contract at The People’s Pension Stadium, with an additional one-year option.

The midfielder has also played for such clubs as Peterborough United and Blackpool.

Jack Payne in action for Crawley Town against West Ham United under-23 on Monday. Picture by Jamie Evans/UK Sports Images Ltd

Payne enjoyed four years at the Posh between 2013 and 2016. The midfielder made 88 appearances, scoring give goals for the club, in both the Championship and League One.

The 29-year-old then joined the Tangerines. He made 35 appearances, scoring once, and starred in the Tangerines’ 2-1 League Two play-off final victory over Exeter City in 2017.

Payne said: “I’m really pleased to be here. It was sorted quite quickly.

“I’ve known the gaffer for a few years now so as soon as the interest was there I was ready to come.

“Thankfully Ben Strevens the manager at Eastleigh helped get it all through.

“I’m delighted to be here. I’m just looking forward to getting the season going and getting started.”

Payne has returned to the Football League after spending four years in the National League.

Before moving to Eastleigh in 2019, the midfielder spent two season at Ebbsfleet United.

The 29-year-old made 60 appearances for the Fleet before he made the move to the Spitfires.

Payne was pleased to be back in the Football League, and wanted to play as many games as possible and challenge for honours while at the Reds.

He added: “Personally I just want to play as many games as I can. I just wanted to get back in the Football League and start playing as many games as I can in the league.

“As a team I think we’re the same as everyone at the moment. We want to be at the higher end of the table come towards the end of the season.

“Hopefully our performances take us somewhere special at the end of the season.”

Last season’s National League campaign, like so many of the professional football leagues in England, was beset with scheduling difficulties.

The 2020-21 National League season began in October and concluded May, leading to an incredibly condensed fixture list.

Payne admitted the last campaign was a ‘nightmare’ but was grateful for the opportunity to just play football.

He said: “It was a nightmare last season for everyone, but we were all just thankful to be playing to be honest.

“We had games on a Saturday and Tuesday every week last year, but most leagues were the same.

“It was a tough slog but it had to be done. I’m just grateful that we were able to carry on playing so that was the main thing.”

Crawley have played seven of their nine pre-season friendlies in the run up to the 2021-22 League Two campaign.

Payne said he had been enjoying pre-season, making special mention to his teammates, but was champing at the bit for the Reds’ curtain raiser away at Hartlepool United on Saturday, August 7.

He added: “Pre-season has been good. It’s always tough.

“The weather in the last week or so has been really hot but the work that we’ve been doing has been good.

“The boys have made it really easy to settle in as well. We’ve got a tight-knit group here.

“I’ve been welcomed in and I’ve been working hard with all of them.

“Pre-season is pre-season but once you’re back in Saturday and Tuesday, you’re playing games and that’s where you want to be,

“Pre-season is nice but toward the end you’re itching and you’re biting at the bit to get the league games going.

“We’re at that point now so we’re looking good. I can’t wait for the Hartlepool game.

“Pre-season does drag it out a little bit but we’ll be ready for Hartlepool.