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Few players have both Swindon and Oxford on their CV, even fewer have Swindon and both Oxford clubs - United and City - as their former employers. But Jeremy Balmy has.
The French attacker, who developed in Le Havre’s youth system, was reputed once scouted as a teenager by Spurs and Arsenal - at least according to the Daily Mail. But when he made his way to England aged just 19 it was to Meadow Lane, not White Hart Lane. He played just 47 minutes of the league football before being let go by Notts County. Then, before he joined Swindon in 2015, Balmy was again released this time from a short-term deal with Oxford United, after they’d sent him on loan at non-league City.
Balmy was a late addition to Mark Cooper's Swindon squad, not officially joining the team until the September, although it seemed the club had had him on trial for some time. Owner Lee Power admitted to the Adver that Balmy's impact hadn't been earth shattering: "He actually left last week and we weren’t sure we could do anything and one or two things have happened and we’ve managed to catch him.
While Power’s plan seems to have been for Balmy to have been developed with the reserves, Town’s thin squad meant he was on the bench within days of signing. His first appearance came in a home defeat by Colchester at the end of September, when he replaced fellow Frenchman Fabien Robert. Minutes weren't easy to come by though and his role was largely limited to coming off the bench to try to save games, including in the cup against Oxford and trying to save Mark Cooper’s job in an away defeat at Millwall. Despite coming on just after half-time at the New Den, Balmy didn’t change the game, alter Cooper’s fate, or the improve the direction of his career.
Instead under Martin Ling, Balmy remained a fringe player, brought on as a wide midfielder or forward displaying hints of that “young talent... that needs to be worked on” which Power had seen in the trialist. When Ling left and Luke Williams took over, Balmy’s role was further reduced as Swindon strengthening the squad with extra loans and extra experience.
However Balmy did make his one and only League start under Williams in early February, playing on the left side of Town’s midfield. But Swindon were defeated one-nil by Port Vale and Balmy was himself replaced in the 61st minute by Lee Marshall.
It that felt like the most noteworthy movement of Balmy’s Town career he managed to top it soon after - and without playing a game. As the season drew to a close Balmy was one of a trio of Swindon players fined and banned for three games for appearing to take nitrous oxide, more frequently known as ‘laughing gas’.
Screenshots taken from a Periscope stream, appeared to show Balmy, midfielder Drissa Traore and defender Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill inhaling the gas, gleefully discussed in the extensive tabloid coverage as ‘hippy crack’.
A less-than-impressed Williams described the whole debacle as “very, very distressing” and the threesome missed three games before a disciplinary meeting and return to the squad in March. Balmy even made it back to the bench, but had no further appearances before he was released at the end of the season. Just as had happened to him at Oxford United.
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