Transfer Deadline Day might appear one of the most exciting days of the football season, but as Peterborough defender Jack Baldwin explains, it’s not all glamour.
Baldwin was a 20-year-old Hartlepool defender at the time of his deadline day move to Posh, a youthful centre-back making his first big transfer.
On January 31 2014, the young footballer was tucking into a chicken pasta bake when the call came.
“I was literally still eating my dinner in Hartlepool, I was a mouthful of food in and I got the call from my agent saying: ‘Get down to Peterborough’ which was about a three-hour drive,” Baldwin explained.
“We abandoned dinner at the table – I think it was just a chicken pasta bake with some cheese on top. We ran upstairs, put some stuff in the back of the car and then set off.
“When I got to the ground my agent was there, we did the paperwork and we walked through to the manager’s office.
“We sat down with the manager who told me his plans and what his vision for me at the club was – after that I came back through, had the photos and did an interview.”
That all sounds hectic but reasonably straightforward, right? Perhaps, if you weren’t in the middle of starting a family.
“I was in a hotel for the first three weeks and my girlfriend was heavily pregnant,” said Baldwin.
“It wasn’t something I put out there straight away (starting a family). When I eventually spoke to the lads, if it came up in conversation then fine, but I just tried to keep myself to myself until I was a regular starter.
“The club arranged the hotel, so for three weeks I was trying to find somewhere suitable to live, obviously with the family coming along – I was coming to training and my partner was going out to view houses.”
Jose Mourinho is reportedly still staying in hotel accommodation as Manchester United manager – but while he might be able to afford a luxurious room, that’s a notion that a League One player just can’t entertain.
“It’s pretty difficult living out of a hotel, because obviously you’ve not got your home comforts,” said Baldwin. “The biggest thing for us was dinners and lunches – obviously hotel food can get a bit boring.
“When I came down my agent said chuck some stuff in a bag ready to go. So I had a bag of clothes for about three to four weeks that I had to keep washing and changing, because all my stuff was left up in Hartlepool, abandoned really.”
As if all that wasn’t enough to worry about, there’s also the small matter of actually playing football.
“I made my debut as a sub, got shoved in the back, hand-balled the ball in the penalty box and we lost 1-0,” the 24-year-old told the Press Association.
“In the back of my head I’m thinking, ‘what are the fans thinking about me here?'”
Baldwin is settled now, a regular player at the club where he has now spent the majority of his career – but departing from Hartlepool, a side that had made him feel welcome as a teenager, was perhaps more difficult than the modern fan allows themselves to believe.
“Saying goodbye to teammates was pretty much a text or something I did at a later date when I went back to get some stuff about a month later,” said Baldwin.
“I did go back to the club to see a few faces, such as the media staff who I was quite close with, for example.
“I was 18 when I moved up there, ages from where I grew up (London), but it’s a really friendly family club and they looked after me as much as they could.
“There was one lady who offered me a roast dinner if I ever fancied it! I grew very fond of the club and the fans.”
This year’s transfer deadline day looks to be one of the busiest yet – Baldwin will be one of those aware of the significance of the day, but is there anything that surprised him that might help a young player making a move of their own on the final day of August?
“I didn’t realise how chaotic it can be,” he said. “You hear about the big deadline day moves, but for me it was quite frantic and happened really quickly. One day I’m training with Hartlepool, and the next I’m off.”