THE pain of events in a bitter end to last season were two-fold for Jacob Brown.
The young Barnsley forward’s learning curve saw him dispatched on loan to Chesterfield, who were in a desperate and ultimately futile attempt to avoid the ignominy of relegation from the Football League for the first time in almost a century.
The Yorkshireman lined up for the Spireities in what amounted to a wake in their final game of the season at Barnet on May 5 – an occasion when the hosts joined the Derbyshire visitors in also being consigned to the National League.
To compound matters Brown’s parent club Barnsley relinquished their Championship status the next day after some grim final-game developments at Derby County.
The slings and arrows of outrageous footballing fortune are such that Brown, back from a three-match suspension to be in the reckoning for today’s televised League One game at Walsall, could be celebrating promotion a season on.
It is a sensation he is desperate to experience, his desire heightened by events of last May.
In football the lows that you have motivate you for it to not happen again, but also manage the other side of the game when you get some highs.Jacob Brown
Brown said: “Going to Chesterfield was hard in terms of us being relegated, but the loan was something that I needed in terms of going out and getting that experience.
“For things to be how they are this season and, fingers crossed, if we get promoted it will be a massive difference to last season.
“In football the lows that you have motivate you for it to not happen again, but also manage the other side of the game when you get some highs.”
Peaks and troughs are part of most emerging players’ footballing journeys and Brown – after a breakthrough season at Oakwell – suffered a jolt when he was dismissed in the game at Southend on March 2.
The sight of his Reds team-mates then casting aside the man disadvantage to win 3-0 in a show of real character at Roots Hall softened the blow a little, although it has still been a testing three weeks for the 20-year-old.
Lessons have at least been taken on board following his sending-off – a straight red card for a knee-high tackle on Sam Mantom – with Brown eager to make up for lost time after his first dismissal in Barnsley colours.
It was a further example of football’s capacity to conjure highs and lows with Brown receiving his dismissal just hours after being named the EFL League One young player of the month for January.
Brown saidof his dismissal: “It came from taking a heavy touch and chasing it. I have gone lunging in and did not think it was a red at the time, but emotions got to me. Looking back I can see why the referee has given it.
“I was very upset in the changing room on my own. It felt awful and I do not want to feel like that again.
“The hardest point was getting over the fact I was not going to be able to play for three games. The fact we got the three points from the game made it a bit easier.”
The mood on the coach back after the win may have been a jubilant one, but Brown was understandably inhibited and quiet. He has stored the memories from that tough day from a personal perspective.
He added: “In your career, everyone will experience things like that. At the time you do not want it to happen, but it is something I can learn from and hope not to go through again.
“I did not know what to expect from anyone. But when I did get sent off the messages from the fans, family and friends were really supportive. I think that helped me a lot.”
A chance for atonement in front of the Sky cameras arrives today although Brown is more focused on helping the Reds keep their push for promotion firmly on course.
Repaying the faith of head coach Daniel Stendel, who has handed him the stage this season, represents a big motivation with Brown seeking to put those events at Southend behind him, starting today.
He added: “Every game, whether it is on TV on not, is one where you think about scoring the winner. I just want to go out and put my all in and make sure we get the three points.
“The manager has been massive for me. I would not be where I am if he was not here. The faith he has shown in me from the start of the season has been massive and it gives me that confidence boost when I am playing.”
Last six games: Walsall LWDWLL Barnsley. DDWWDD.
Referee: B Toner (Lancashire).
Last time: Walsall 1 Barnsley 3; May 19, 2016; League One play-offs.