Josh Meekings switching Dundee in Scotland for Cavendish in Suffolk as former Ipswich Town U18s captain seeks out a new challenge for 2020/21
He left the area nine years ago to pursue a professional football career in Scotland – but now Josh Meekings is returning to Suffolk eager to prove himself in the English game.
Having turned down Scottish Championship side Dundee’s offer of a new contract on much reduced terms, the 27-year-old is still not sure whereabouts he will be playing next.
But for now, at least, the former Ipswich Town Under-18s captain is set to move his family in with his parents Fiona and Steve in Cavendish.
“My partner’s family are from Inverness and my family are obviously from Suffolk, so we have got two sets of families from each end of the UK which isn’t ideal but we needed to make a decision on where is best to make a base,” said the former Samuel Ward Academy pupil, whose daughter Ruby turns two later this month.
“We are going down to Suffolk with my parents so we have got somewhere to assess everything and make a decision about what comes next.
“It will be a bit manic but it will be nice for them.
“My parents have always been fantastic to me and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me over the years, even when I was travelling with Ipswich.
“Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity somewhere soon and then it will be up to me to take it, grab it with both hands and have a go.”
Centre-half Meekings was captain at Dundee, whom he made 26 appearances for in the Scottish Premiership before relegation in 2018/19, following six seasons in the top flight with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
While he is not ruling anything out with the next move, it is south of the border where the 2014/15 Scottish Cup winner would love to have a crack at next.
“The next decision will be a big one and it is definitely one I want to get right,” he said.
“I have had a few bad injuries. The season before last I had my hip surgery and missed the whole year, but last season I was fully fit for the whole season.
“I got a run of games which was good and the next thing is I just need to maintain that myself and stay ready for whatever challenge is next.”
Like the decision to leave Dundee though, he said his next move will be based around what is right for his family.
“My little one is two at the end of the month so all the decisions will be based on what is right for me, my partner and her,” he said.
“I will not rule out anything north of the border. I would love an opportunity in England, of course, I have always said that.
“Even from when I first went up there at the start I was always of the mindset that I would like to have an opportunity in England just to see how I would go and what I could do.”
Leaving Dundee done for right reasons
His decision to turn down the offer he received to stay at Dens Park promoted some criticism after he announced it via social media.
But he is not letting those comments get on top of him and believes fans of The Dee and elsewhere will understand the position he was in.
"Unfortunately it is part of social media nowadays. I've always said it gives people a license to write what they want behind a screen," he said of the comments.
"A lot of the fans have been positive and have been thankful and thoughtful with their comments afterwards as they understand the time that we are in. They have wished me well and I wish Dundee all the best for the future.
"I thank the fans for their support over the last few seasons and I was honoured to be the captain of the club.
"It wasn't an easy decision to have to make but it was one I had to do purely on the decision of my family and that is the way that things have to be now."
He added: "I had every intention of staying had it been slightly different. But with the club having to make cuts – they have let go of Jimmy Nicholl the assistant manager, Cammy McDermid the sports scientist – there is cuts being made and I can completely understand that.
"Football club needs to survive and Dundee put themselves first in looking after themselves which is completely respectful in the same way as I need to put my family first when it comes to making the decision about my life and our lives.
"I think that anyone who thinks about it properly will understand and respect the decision I've made. Of course, some people may not like it because I am leaving."
Ipswich ambition still burning
They say not to go back in football, but with Ipswich Town now a third-tier club without the financial muscle to be signing players for big fees, Meekings admits he would love the chance to complete unfinished business in making a senior appearance with them.
"Of course, I have always supported them and whenever I've been up the road I have still kept an eye on their results and what they are doing," he said.
"You don't grow up loving football without loving a certain club.
"Ipswich gave me the platform and I had brilliant coaching from the ages of eight to 18. It was really beneficial to me and they have given me a lot to go forward with so, of course, it is a dream I have wanted to do.
"I obviously wanted to do it when I was younger but we will have to wait and see."
More by this authorRussell Claydon
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)