In January 2008, JP, aged 18, agreed to go north of the
border and spend the rest of the season at Gretna, propping up the bottom of
the Scottish Premier League. "A quick-footed attacking midfielder, Kissock
is renowned for his creativity and passing in the final third," said the
Gretna website on his acquisition.
Gretna boss David Irons believed Kissock could play a key role in his
side's battle to avoid relegation. "I am really excited about Kissock and I
feel he could be the player who sparks us," he declared.
"I phoned David Moyes, whom I played with at Dunfermline Athletic, to ask
if he could loan me any players, and he suggested John Paul.
"Initially, the boy had cold feet. I really had to work hard to
convince him. He has been at Everton since he was 10 and is a real Scouser.
"He did not even know where Gretna is. I have had to take him under
my wing a bit and make sure he is well looked after off the pitch because he
is so young."
He added: "We have made him a star in our set-up, and he's loving the
attention, not to mention the crowds that were at Tynecastle and Easter
"It's a lot compared to the 100 or so that watched Everton's youth team.
I don't know if he is physically up to playing in the Premier League, but he
can discover himself here and learn a lot."
However, the team struggled badly in the SPL and the club were placed in administration after the owner withdrew his support due to illness. At the end of the season, all of the club's staff were made redundant and the club were initially relegated to the Third Division due to their inability to guarantee fulfilment of their forthcoming fixtures. After this demotion, the one remaining offer to buy the club was withdrawn. The club resigned their place in the Scottish Football League and were formally liquidated in August 2008.
Kissock returned to Everton and appeared in the first pre-season friendlies of 2008 against
FC Sion but was
destined to never wear the Everton shirt in earnest for a first-team game,
despite being named and on the bench for nine league games. (He was one
of many teenage bench-warmers that typified the parlous state of affairs in
Everton's early Premier League campaign of 2008-09.)
After failing to step up, he was sent out on loan to Accrington Stanley, a
League 2 team. He struggled to make the grade there and was sent back when
the loan was up. If he'd have been decent for them, it might have been
expected that they would have asked to keep him.
But he returned to Finch Farm, and was eventually released by Everton in June 2009,
having never made his senior debut
after featuring in every single
Reserve game for which he was available that season.
In the Echo, he revealed his devastation at being released by the
club he will "always love"; he wanted to quit football completely after
being told by David Moyes he didn't have a future at Goodison Park.
"I was devastated to leave Everton," said Kissock. "I have supported them
all my life and will always love the club.
"I wasn't Moyes's type of player. He doesn't have many flamboyant players
in his side. I was on the bench a lot and there were times I thought I might
get on. However, it never happened and I was gutted to leave. Moyes took me
into his office to deliver the news and it was a horrible day – one of the
worst experiences of my life.
"When he told me it was terrible. There were uncontrollable tears I broke
down in the dressing room even though I was determined not to. I had
been at the club for 12 years and it was hard to tell the family, especially
my dad. He's a mad blue and it was a shock. Everyone thought I deserved a
chance. The most galling thing is not to have played a single game – that's
what I wanted to achieve.
"I didn't want to play football after that I just wanted to quit.
Thankfully after a few weeks I picked myself up. Now that belief is back."
Kissock was picked up by Hamilton Academicals of the Scottish Premier
League only to be released after barely 3 months, and playing in just
the first three games before the manager up there also decided he just wasn't good enough.
He ended up back on Merseyside and started the 2010-11 season in the West Cheshire League with Newton before moving to Vodkat Premier Division Formby. Switching to his third team, Southport, in as
many months, he explained to the Liverpool Echo that David Moyes wanted him to play out of position, and felt his progress was blocked by better players being selected ahead of him:
"There were a lot of good players at Everton in front of me - players like Steve Pienaar,” said Kissock. “They also wanted me to play in wide areas but I have always seen myself as playing down the middle as a centre forward. Leaving Everton was just one of them things."
"The biggest club who I trialled with in the summer was Brighton and I came close to signing for them. Gus Poyet said some really encouraging things, including they were ready to build the team around me, but it never materialised in the end. Karl Robinson made me an offer at MK Dons but the money on the table would not have been enough for me to survive on. I had just come to him at the wrong time.
"I'm now in the right frame of mind and have a good team around me so really, really want to push back towards the Premier League. I really am hoping for this and you have just got to believe in yourself. This definitely feels like a second chance and I'm really happy to be at Southport.
"I really see this as a stepping stone to get my career back on track so all I am focused on doing is working hard and not giving up.”
It would be five years before the Echo provided another update
on his progress in the lower leagues. He moved on from Southport to
Luton. Then, when with Macclesfield, came a chance back in the Football
League on loan at Oldham Athletic.
Injuries meant such hope was short-lived. And after spending the 2014-15
season at Whitehawk, Kissock – at the age of 26 – switched clubs yet again,
this time playing in midfield for Ebbsfleet United of the Conference South.
Another Echo update in March 2019 featured a
Royal Blue Podcast
interview with the player, who said Ebbsfleet was the best run club he'd
been at since Everton.
“I went from being on the bench for a Merseyside derby to driving a taxi
around Liverpool in the space of 6 months, that is how quickly
football can change.”
It was the turning point in John Paul Kissock's young career as dreams of
playing for his boyhood club came to an end in the office of David Moyes. A
12-month contract extension was discussed but the Everton manager felt the
gifted teenager needed to leave Goodison for a club that could offer him
Kissock recalled he had come agonisingly close to breaking through under
Moyes between 2007-2009, travelling to Holland for a Uefa Cup game and being
on the bench a number of times before Christmas, but he was unable to
convince Moyes he was worth a shot.
Since Ebbsfleet, he has been with Telford and is now with Welling. He
still has goals as a player but is already doing his coaching badges and
would love nothing more than to return to Everton as an Academy coach.
“I'm doing my coaching badges and I still speak to a lot of the lads
at Everton and it something I really would love to do.
“I'm 28, I've still got a few years playing. I played with Steven
Schumacher at Southport and he went back in, he's very knowledgeable about
the game and he was really enjoying it at Everton before he got the job at
Bury. I think I've got a lot to offer the game.”
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