Let the birds see the beard...

Wigan Athletic junior academy coach Jay Cochrane on ITV dating show Take Me Out
Wigan Athletic junior academy coach Jay Cochrane on ITV dating show Take Me Out

A JUNIOR football coach took a break from training the beautiful game’s finest young prospects to look for love on national TV at the weekend.

Jay Cochrane, who is an academy coach for Wigan Athletic and co-founder of a successful football academy, took his place among the hopeful bachelors seeking to catch the eye of the ladies on hit ITV dating show Take Me Out on Saturday evening.

Leigh lad Jay persuaded Marley, one of the 30 single women on the show, to keep her light on in response to his questions in order to secure a date on the isle of Fernando’s.

The show, hosted by Paddy McGuinness, has become a staple of Saturday-night TV with millions of viewers, and Jay says his appearance in the spotlight was prompted by a chance meeting with a production company employee while out in Manchester.

Jay, 30, said: “I was out having lunch with another academy manager and we were stopped by a guy who said he liked my beard and told us he worked for a TV show.

“At first I said it wasn’t really my thing but then they rang a few more times and asked if I wanted to apply for the show, so when I was in London I went round to their office and talked to them. It all snowballed very quickly from there. I had just split up with my girlfriend, so it was the best time it could have come, really.”

Jay appeared in front of the cameras on a single marathon day of filming last November, with shooting running from early in the morning until after 11pm. The show sees eligible bachelors descend to the studio in a love lift before answering questions and watching pre-recorded videos telling the ladies more about them. At each stage women who are no longer interested in going on a date can switch off the light in front of them, with the bachelor getting to select one of the remaining ladies after three nerve-racking rounds.

With filming taking place two months ago, Jay has had to keep the result of the show secret from everyone except his closest family members, and admits he was concerned about ensuring he makes a good impression to the national TV audience.

He said: “Coming down in the lift and arriving in the studio with 500 people going mad for you was one of the biggest rushes I’ve had in my life.

“I also met a lot of incredibly creative people who are very passionate about what they do. It was a very enjoyable and unique experience.

“I’ve kept the result a secret as long as I can, but in the last few days I’ve had lots of people saying they’re looking forward to watching it.

“There’s probably going to be about 30 of us piling into my place to watch the show and have a couple of pizzas, but we can’t go too wild because I’ve got a match on Sunday morning.

“I’m excited about seeing myself on TV but the most important thing to me is I represent the people who matter well and do them proud.”

See the Wigan Evening Post later this week to find out how Jay went on with Marley and see his reaction to appearing on national TV.