Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Final Thoughts

It was always my intention to conclude the blog at the end of the 2009-10 season - to end on a celebratory note and see 2010-11 as the start of a different story. Keith Hill’s departure doesn’t change that because he only entered the previous story in 1996 , halfway through it. I also didn’t want to be recording hasty impressions of the current squad which would be inevitable if the blog became open-ended. I  was  hoping  to  finish  before  the  end  of  2010-11 anyway  but  life  got  in  the  way !

I should just mention that there were other players who put on a Dale shirt but haven’t featured because they only appeared in Cup ties and the blog was primarily concerned with the League story. Most famous of these is the guy above, Steve Bywater, who became our record export despite conceding 6 in his only senior appearance in the Autoglass Trophy. Along with Gary Jones he is the only survivor of  the Barrow era still playing  League  football. We also had Steve Wilkinson a useful striker for Mansfield , Preston and Chesterfield who played in a couple of League Cup ties in 1996 while on loan from Leicester. Then there were the mysterious Karl Rose who made his debut in the same Auto Windscreens game as Paddy McCourt in 2001 but was never seen again and David Walsh whose only outing was a substitute appearance at Ewood Park during the 6-1 mauling in  the  League  Cup  in  2000.

Keith Hill’s reign was also noted for the number of players who came and went on short term deals without making an appearance. So honourable mentions to Charles Comyn-Platt , Stephen Vaughan , David Button, Lewis Montrose, Jerome Watt and Michael Lea who never got the chance to show us what they could do.

Then there were some notable appearances in pre-season where the player didn’t actually sign for us. Former Liverpool super-sub David Fairclough scored against Blackburn in the Lancashire Cup in 1986 but that was his only game. Jamie Doyle was apparently one of the brightest prospects in Scottish football when I was getting Shoot ! in the late 70s but failed to impress Eddie Gray in the Lancs Cup games of 1987.
Most bizarrely of all Chris Armstrong was taken on after being released by Leeds then bought by Queen of the South before the start of the season in 2004, a nifty bit of business by Steve Parkin particularly as the player has achieved little in the game since.

So that’s it. The Comments facility will remain open and perhaps some of the picture gaps will be filled but otherwise it’s finished . Maybe in years to come there’ll be a continuation but at the moment I have no plans for that. While remaining a season ticket holder I missed most of the away games in 2010-11 ( surely the worst set of  fixtures ever for a travelling fan ? ) and I can’t see a return to the commitment of the early seasons covered here. Despite  my best  efforts  my  son might want to do other things on  a Saturday and fanaticism in your forties isn’t desirable anyway, suggesting  deficiencies elsewhere in your life.

Thanks for your time and perhaps you might like to explore some of the other blogs under the Clarke Chroniclers umbrella ?

Up The Dale !

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

447 Reece Gray

Position :  Forward

Played : 2009-10  to  ?

Appearances : 4  to  date

Goals : 1  to  date

Young  Reece  isn't  really  part  of  the  promotion  story  as  he  didn't  appear  until  after  we'd  secured  our  place  in  League  One. I've  only  seen  his  debut  as  a  sub  at  home  to  Burton  where  he  looked  to  have  a  good  touch  and  some  confidence  about  him. He's  made  three  more  substitute  appearances  since  then  and  scored  the  winner  with  an  unlikely  header  at  Bournemouth  in  last  season's  final  game.

Reece  concludes  the  2009-10  season.

446 Temitope Obadeyi

Position :  Winger

Played : 2009-10  ( on  loan  from  Bolton )

Appearances : 11

Goals : 1

Temitope  was  the  final  signing  of  the  season . He  was  20  and  had  three  substitute  appearances  in  the  Premiership  ( Arsenal  and  United  were  two  of  the  opposing  teams )  and  a  decent  reputation  to  his  credit. Earlier  in  the  season  he'd  been  on  loan  at  Swindon  and  scored  twice  in  12  appearances.

He  came  on  at  Bury  in  February  when  we  were  chasing  the  game  and  made  a  good  impression. He  managed  to  wriggle  past  his  man  on  the  by-line  and  lay  on  an  easy  chance  for  Chris  O' Grady  who  inexplicably  missed  it. He  got  a  goal  at  home to  Dagenham  two  games  later  but  otherwise  he  just  caused  frustration. There  was  something  there; he  was  very  quick  and  difficult  to  dispossess  but  he  usually  did  the  defender's  job  for  them  and  beat  himself. I  remember  him  receiving  a  throw  in  at  Macclesfield  and  the  ball  bouncing  straight  back  off  his  shin  into  touch.

He's  still  with  Bolton  but  9  goalless  games  on  loan  at  Shrewsbury  were  his  only  League  outings  last  season.

445 Andy Haworth

Position :  Winger

Played : 2009-10  ( on  loan  from  Blackburn )

Appearances : 7

Goals : 0

Andy  arrived  in  January. He  was  21  and  had  made  two  cup  appearances  for  Rovers. He  had  also  played  6  games  on  loan  at  Gateshead.

An  injury  to  Will  Buckley  in  the  warm-up  at  Cheltenham  meant  an  instant  League  debut  for  Andy  and  he  certainly  made  it  one  to  remember. He  had  pace  to  burn  and  two  good  feet  and  soon  had  the  Robins  rocking !  He  could   have  scored  two  spectacular  goals  from  distance  but  the  first  shot  hit  the  post  and  came  out  and  the  second  was  barely  clawed  out  by  the  keeper  to  the  feet  of  Chris  O  Grady  who  thumped  it  home  for  his  second  goal.

However  it  appeared  that  Keith  Hill  wasn't  quite as  impressed  as  the  rest  of  us  and  had  words  with  Andy  about  ball  retention  and  cavalier  play. Andy's  willingness  to  share  that  discussion  with  the  media  probably  didn't  help  his  cause  either. He  was  used  sparingly  thereafter. He  came  on  late  at  Notts  County  after  two  months  rooted  to  the  bench  and  almost  kept  the  title  race  alive  with  a  long  range  shot  that skimmed  the  bar. He  then  played  the  first  half  against  Hereford  and  was  awful  ( in  fairness  so  was  everyone  else)  and  that  was  the  last  we  saw  of  him.

He  signed  for  Bury  in  the  close season  and  made  40  appearances  although  50%  of  them  were  as  substitute  scoring  3  goals.

444 Danny Glover

Position : Forward

Played : 2009-10  ( on  loan  from  Port  Vale )

Appearances : 2

Goals : 0

Danny  was  signed  in  December  to  give  us  some  striking  cover.  He  had  made  41  appearances  for  Vale  but  had  a  poor  relationship  with  the  fans  as  the  son  of  Dean  Glover  a  legend  as  a  player  but  not  a  successful  manager  for  them. His  paltry  4  goal  tally  can't  have  helped  matters. He  was  on  loan  at  Salisbury  City  before  coming  to  us.

Danny  had  some  very  nice  things  to  say  about  his  brief  sojourn  with  us  and  it  would  be  nice  to  return  the  compliment  but  his   two  brief  substitute  appearances  didn't  leave  any  lasting  impression. In  years  to come when   fans  look at  the  promotion  stats  his  is  the  name  that  will  have  fans  scratching  their  heads.

Danny  played  one  more  game  for  Vale  then  in  March  went  on  loan  to  Stafford  Rangers  knowing  he'd  be  released  at  the  end  of  the  season. He  played  for  Worcester  City  last  season  scoring  twice  in  8  games.

443 Jason Taylor

Position :  Midfield

Played : 2009-10  ( on  loan  from  Rotherham )

Appearances : 23

Goals : 1

Jason  also  made  his  debut  away  at  Dagenham. He  began  as  a  trainee  at  Oldham  but  made  his  League  debut  on  loan  at  Stockport  in  2006 . After  9  games  they  made  the  move  permanent . He  played  96  games  for  County  scoring  6  goals. Keith  Hill  tried  to  sign  him  in  January  2009  when  his  contract  expired  but  Rotherham  made  him  a  better  offer. However  Hill  kept  an  eye  on  his  fortunes  and  as  soon  as  Jason  lost  his  first  team  place  brought  him  in  on  a  season-long  loan.

Jason  was  the  last  major  piece  of  the  promotion  jigsaw  to  fall  into  place. His  midfield  partnership  with  Jason  Kennedy  made  us   near- unbeatable  for  three  months  and  we  could  afford  to  drop  points  thereafter. The  crop-headed  bruiser  stood  in  front  of  the  back  four  , broke  up  attacks  then  played  a  simple pass  to  someone  more  creative. He   did  sometimes  come  forward  but  never  tried  anything  fancy just  did  a  solid  job  week  after  week.  The  only  blot  was  a  red  card  for  fighting  at  Accrington.

There  didn't  seem  much  prospect  of  signing  him  in  the  close  season  and  indeed he  played  in  nearly  every  game  for  Rotherham  in  2010-11 

442 Will Atkinson

Position :  Winger

Played : 2009-10 ( two  separate  spells)  ; 2010-11  ( all  on  loan  from  Hull  City )

Appearances :  ( first  spell ) 8 ; (second  spell)  7 ;  (third  spell ) 21

Goals : ( first  spell ) 3  ; ( second  spell )  0  ; ( third  spell ) 2

Will  arrived  in  November  to  make  his  debut  in  the  win  at  Dagenham. He  turned  professional  with  Hull  in  2007  making  his  debut  on  loan  at  Port  Vale  in  October  that  year. After  4  games  with  them  he  made  his  debut  for  Hull  in  the  FA  Cup  before  12  games  on  loan  at  Mansfield  in  their  last  League  campaign. He  stayed  in  Hull's  reserves  for  the  duration  of  2008-09  then  came  to  us  after  a  Carling  Cup appearance.

Will  wasn't  blessed  with  great  pace  but  had  enough  skill  to  give  the  full  back  problems  and  did  his  fair  share  of  tracking  back. He  could  play  on  either  flank  but  would  always  cut  inside  if  we  played  him  on  the  right. He  played  during  our  purple  patch  leading  up  to  Christmas  and  signed  off   his  first  spell  with  a  brace  at  home  to  Morecambe.

He  returned  in  February  for  another  couple  of  months  and  wasn't  quite  as  good. He  returned  to  Hull  in  time  to  play  in  their  last  two  games  in  the  Premiership  grabbing  a  goal  in  the  draw  with  Wigan. He  started  last  season  in  the  side  but  after  4  games  he  was  dropped  and  in  December  he  webnt  to  Rotherham  on  loan. He  played  three  games  scoring  once  but  chose  to  return  to  us  in  January  rather  than  extend  his  stay  there.

Will  was  rather  disappointing  third  time  round. He  didn't  look  fully  fit  and  his  general  play  was  very  sluggish. He  had  the  odd  good  moment  like  the  excellent  headed  goal  at  Notts  County  but  didn't  make  the  impact  we  were  expecting.

441 Tom Heaton

Position : Goalkeeper

Played : 2009-10  ( on  loan  from  Manchester  United )

Appearances : 12

Goals : 0

Tom  joined  in  December making  his  debut  at  home  to  Chesterfield. Tom  had  been  with  United  since  2002  but  had  never  got  past  the  bench for  them. Instead  he  had  a  string  of  previous  loan  spells  with  Swindon  (2005) , Royal  Antwerp , Cardiff  (2008-09)  and  QPR (2009).

Tom  got  off  to  a  false  start  by  conceding  three  goals  in  a  defeat  but  that  turned  out  to  be  a  one-off.  He  only  conceded  7  more  goals  and  kept  4  clean  sheets   and  didn't  finish  on  the  losing  side  again. He  was  juist  excellent  - there's  little  more  to  say.

Tom  was  a  bit  too  expensive  to  keep  so  he  returned  to  United  then  finished  the  season  with  15  games  on  loan  to  Wycombe. United  released  him  in  the  summer  and  he  re- joined  Cardiff . He  made  20  appearances  in  2010-11  having  to  miss  some  games  through  a  groin  injury.

440 Josh Lillis

Position : Goalkeeper

Played : 2009-10 ; 2010-11  ( both  on  loan  from  Scunthorpe )

Appearances : ( first  spell)  1  ;  (second  spell )  23

Goals : 0

Josh was first signed on a 7 day emergency loan in October when Kenny Arthurs was injured. He was the son of former Manchester City striker Mark Lillis who had latterly been assistant-manager of Scunthorpe. Josh came through Scunthorpe’s youth system and had made 17 appearances for them. He had previous loan spells at Notts County (5 games) and Grimsby (4 games).

Josh’s first spell was a success - a clean sheet in the 4-0 win at Bournemouth.

He came back at the start of last season for the first few months. I have to admit I wasn’t too keen on him. He could pull off some great saves but he seemed to be glued to his line and didn’t take command at corners. Scunthorpe recalled him in January ; I don’t think we’d have finished ninth if he’d stayed.

Monday, 6 June 2011

439 Marcus Magna

Position : Forward

Played : 2009-10

Appearances : 2

Goals : 0

Marcus  was  given  a  short  deal  in  November  after  turning  up  for  a  trial. The  young  Parisian  had  been  with  Stade  Laval  in  France  and  most  recently  at  Steaua  Bucharest.

Keith  Hill  signed  him  saying  he  and  Flicker  had  seen  something  they  liked  in  his  play. No  one  ever  found  out  what  it  was. He  made  a  late  substitute  appearance  at  Grimsby  where  he  looked  lively  in  a  game  that  was  already  won.  A  longer  look  at  him  in  the  game  at  home  to  Accrington revealed  his  deficiencies. He  was  fast  and  slippery  but  not  as  much  as  the  ball  after  he'd  tried  to  control  it. After  a  comically  bad  appearance  in  the  FA  Cup  replay  against  Luton  he  was  sent  on  his  way.

His  current  whereabouts  are  unknown.

438 Simon Whaley

Position : Winger

Played : 2009-10  ( on  loan  from  Norwich )

Appearances :  9

Goals : 2

Simon  arrived  in  September  and  made  his  debut  away  at  Northampton. He  was  another  product  of  Bury's  youth  scheme  making  his  debut  in  2002  and  going  on  to  make  73  appearances  and  score  11  goals. In  January  2006  he  made  a  £250,000   move  to  Preston  where  he  was  apparently  brilliant  to  begin  with  but  later  lost  his  way  under  Alan  Irvine  who  loaned  him  out  to  Barnsley  for  a  month  in  November. Although  Simon  got  back  in  the  Preston  side  he  was  transferred  to  Norwich  in  the  summer  of  2009   for  a  reported  £250,000.  Simon  started  the  first  few  games  but  was  dropped  by  the  new  manager  Paul  Lambert  after  the  Canaries' dreadful  start  to  the  season.

Simon  did  quite  well  for  us  although  you  could  tell  there  was  something  missing  from  his game , a  bit  of  confidence  or  self-belief  perhaps. He  scored  a  good  goal  on  his  home  debut  against  Hereford  but  his  influence  in  subsequent  games  was  peripheral.

After  finishing  his  two  months  with  us  he  went  straight  back  out  to  Bradford  making  6  appearances  and  scoring  once. When  Bradford  declined  to  extend his  loan  Simon's  contract  at  Norwich  was  cancelled  by  mutual  consent. He  then  signed  a  short  deal  with  Chesterfield  scoring  once  in  6  games. Last  season  he  was  briefly  on  Doncaster's  books  but  never  got  off  the  bench  then  he  had  a  brief  spell  with  Burton  in  March  making  3  appearances  before  becoming  a  free  agent  once  again.

437 Dale Stephens

Position : Midfield

Played : 2009-10  ( on  loan  from  Oldham )

Appearances : 6

Goals : 1

Dale  was  signed  to  give  us  some  midfield  cover  while  Ciaran  Toner  was  injured. He  started  out  at  Bury  making  his  debut  in  February  2007. The  following  season  he  had  a  6  game  loan  spell  at  Droylsden  and  in  the  summer  he  decided  to  leave  Bury  for  Oldham  having  made  9  appearances  and  scored  one  goal. However  Dale  (what  a  great  name !)  hadn't  made  any  first  team  appearances  for  the  Latics  when  he  came  to  us.

Dale  first  appeared  as  a  sub  in  the  game  at  Morecambe. He  looked  pretty  tidy  and  then  scored  a  superb  third  goal  to  complete  the  comeback  from  0-3  down, hitting  it  from  the  edge  of  a  crowded  box  into  the  bottom  corner.  I  would  have  liked  to  have  seen  a  bit  more  of  him  but  he  returned  to  Oldham  in  November.

He  made  his  debut  for  Oldham  the  following  month  and  has  been  playing  regularly  since  clocking  up  60  appearances  and  11  goals although  he  finished  last  season  on  loan  at  Southampton.

436 Chris O'Grady

Position : Forward

Played : 2009-10  ( initially  on  loan  from  Oldham )  to  ?

Appearances : 90  to  date

Goals : 34  to  date

Chris was signed in September as the replacement for Lee Thorpe. He made his League debut for Leicester at the end of 2002-2003 but his next appearance was on loan at Notts County in September 2004. He played 9 games for County without scoring. The following year he made 13 substitute appearances for Leicester and scored his first League goal but made 22 on loan at Rushden and scored 4 goals in their final League campaign. After 10 more games for Leicester he signed for Rotherham for £65,000. Chris enjoyed regular first team football scoring 9 goals in 38 games but the move turned sour in 2008 when Chris refused to agree to a wage deferral as Rotherham went into administration. A transfer to Oldham was quickly arranged but he never established himself at Boundary Park. He made 13 mainly substitute appearances before three loan moves in 2008-09 to Bury ( 6 games no goals ) , Bradford ( 2 games, no goals ) and Stockport ( 18 games, 2 goals).

With his chequered record no one was expecting him to be brilliant and Keith Hill said we should view him as a provider rather than a goalscorer but the caution proved unnecessary. He made his debut at Rotherham and looked good with his strength on the ball and excellent touch. It soon became clear that no defender in League Two could really handle him and soon afterwards he started scoring. He did provide some goals for Chris Dagnall but if anything the relationship worked the other way round and COG eventually out-stripped Daggers to finish top scorer after a season-long battle. Despite being 6 foot 3 Chris was indifferent in the air and all his goals were scored with his feet. With Oldham fans getting increasingly agitated about the number of goals he was getting while they were struggling to score, the pressure on the Board to sign him permanently mounted until they gave way and he signed a two and a half year deal in January 2010 for a reported £90,000.

Chris celebrated days later with a hat-trick at Cheltenham in an awesome team performance. Then of course it fell to him to get the winner at home to Northampton a good finish which finally sealed our promotion after two stutters against Torquay and Darlington. Some might argue that in hindsight it was actually the third goal at Accrington that took us up but as Chris scored that one as well the glory is his either way.

Last season in League One Chris came up against tougher defences and didn’t manage to get into double figures. However some of this was down to more cautious tactics which often required him to play out wide. Chris is actually a very good winger where the combination of skill and strength makes him difficult to stop but he’s still more valuable attacking a cross than delivering it. Towards the end of the season he’d become just as effective a target man as he’d been in League Two but unfortunately he didn’t have a convincing strike partner to take advantage.

It’s to be hoped we can resist offers for him in 2011-12 wherever they might come from as he’d be very difficult to replace.

Friday, 3 June 2011

435 Scott Spencer

Position : Forward

Played : 2009-10

Appearances :  4

Goals : 0

Scott  was  signed  on  a  short  term  deal  in  August  having  been  discarded  at  the  end  of  his  three year  contract  at  Everton. Scott  had  been  with  Oldham  since  he  was  10 , came  through  their  Centre  of  Excellence  and  attracted  attention  with  his  goalscoring  in  the  youth  team. Everton  were  persuaded  to  sign  him  in  2006  before  he'd  made  his  League  debut. The  "new  Rooney"  failed  to  deliver, Everton  publicly  expressing  that  he  was  not  of  the  standard  they  were  expecting. His  only  League  action  came  in  three  substitute  appearances  for  Macclesfield  and  he  struggled  to  make  Everton's  reserves.

Scott  was  said  to  be  "mad  keen"  to  get  his  career  back  on  track  but  he  didn't  really  get  the  chance  to  do  it  with  us. He  only  made  4  substitute  appearances  for  us - in  each  case  we  were  chasing  a  game  we  eventually  lost  -  where  he  looked  very  lightweight  and  short  of  confidence. He  last  appeared  in  November  although  he  was  a  regular  goalscorer  for  the  reserves  indicating  that  there  was  a  level  where  he  could  be  useful.

Hill  discarded  him  in  January  whereupon  he  signed  for  Southend  and  scored  his  first  League  goal  on  his  debut. Three  more  goals  in  17  still  mainly  substitute  appearances  saw  him  kept  on  despite  Southend's  relegation. New  manager  Paul  Sturrock  didn't  rate  him  and  he  finished  last  season  on  loan  at  Lincoln  failing  to  score  in  his  10  appearances. He  is  now  a  free  agent  once  again.

434 Matthew Flynn

Position : Right  back

Played : 2009-10  to  2010-11 ( initially  on  loan  from  Macclesfield )

Appearances : 11

Goals : 0

Matthew was signed on loan in August to cover an injury to Scott Wiseman. He had made 28 appearances for Macclesfield in 2008-09 after previously being loaned out to Ashton United.

Matt , a gangling 20-year old was enthusiastic and did his best although he looked like a centre-half playing out of position. He made some excellent clearing headers but looked very take-able on the ground . The next thing we knew Keith Hill had given him a two-year contract making some grumpy remark ( in the wake of Adam Le Fondre’s sale ) about us having to take a punt with our signings.
It was a strange decision. Matt soon disappeared from the first team picture ( and looked ill at ease when recalled for Crewe away ) and just made occasional substitute appearances. Often he didn’t even make the bench. It was almost embarrassing that his contract meant he stayed while Toner and Higginbotham were released in 2010.

His pre-season was marked by an awful error against Bury and he had just a few minutes as a sub against Huddersfield in the season proper ( why wasn’t he loaned out ? ) . His release last month was the least surprising I can remember.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

433 Jason Kennedy

Position : Midfield

Played : 2009-10 to ?

Appearances : 87

Goals : 4

Jason was signed from Darlington in the summer of 2009. He started his career at Middlesbrough in 2005 and though he only made 4 appearances in the Premiership he had three games in the UEFA Cup run of 2005-06. Seemingly falling out of contention the following season he had 13 games in loan at boston scoring once then 12 games on loan at Bury. It was the same storyy the following season, the receiving clubs being Livingston and then Darlington. His deal covered the play-offs and he scored a superb goal against us in the first leg but failed to convert the crucial penalty in the second. Nevertheless they signed him permanently and he had a great season for them scoring 5 goals in 44 games. However their financial problems forced them to let him join us for nothing Jason pointedly saying he wanted to join a stable club.

Jason got off to a quiet start not making the immediate impact that some were expecting. Even now there are are still some who don't fully appreciate him. The reason for this unfortunately is that he does better when his partner in midfield isn't G Jones Esq. The stats don't lie and when Jonah got injured in mid November and the two Jasons became the midfield pairing we were unbeatable winning seven out of 9 games and going to the top of the table. They were the perfect partnership, Taylor the defensive strongman and Kennedy linking play further forward. Jason isn't particularly fleet of foot but has an excellent football brain knowing what he's going to do with the ball before he receives it. I think we'd have won the title if they'd been allowed to continue together for another month.

Jason's only real weakness was his awful shooting but he partly rectified that last season with some great strikes. That being said it was still a difficult season for him. When we played 4-3-3 at home against not particularly threatening sides he could look a bit redundant halfway between Barry-Murphy and Jonah and there was a post entitled "What does Jason Kennedy actually do ?" on the rivals site which was missing the point.

As the much younger player , Jason will eventually see off Jonah ; let's hope he's got the patience .

432 Craig Dawson

Position : Centre  half

Played :  2009-10  to  2010-11  ( latterly  on  loan  from  West  Bromwich  Albion )

Appearances :  87

Goals : 19

Craig  was  signed  from  Radcliffe  Borough  for  £10,000  in  March  2009. He'd  been  playing  for  them  since  he  was  17  and  attracting  a  lot  of  attention. He  chose  us  from  a  plethora  of  other  offers  because  we  were  his  hometown  club.

He  was  loaned  back  to  Radcliffe  for  a  month  but  Keith  Hill  planned  to  blood  him  before  the  end  of  the  2008-09  season  until  injury  intervened.  However  injuries  work  both  ways  and  Rory  McArdle's  strange  injury  at  Radcliffe  opened  the  door  for  Craig. He  got  teething  errors  out  of  the  way  in  pre-season  games  scoring  an  own  goal  against  Everton  and  was  ready  to  start  the  season  in  the  first  team.

Craig's  nickname  of  "Awesome"  does  him  no  more  justice. Craig  had  the  confidence  to  take  on  allcomers  from  day  one  and  was  easily  the  best  all-round  defender we'd  had since  Alan  Reeves. In  fact  his  distribution  was  superior  to  Reeves  and  his  goalscoring  feats  from  setpieces  hadn't  been  seen  since  John  Bramhall  nearly  a  quarter  of  a  century  earlier. He  was  an  absolute  revelation  and  deserved  all  the  wards  that  came  his  way.

Of  course  the  scouts  soon  descended  on  us  and  after  Craig  put  in  a  transfer  request    West  Brom  signed  him  for  £600,000  in  August  2010. However  Craig  became  the  first  and  only  loan  back  player  of  this  story   and  we  had  him  for  another  season. Understandably  Craig  wasn't  quite  so  dominating  in  League  One  and  was   guilty  of  poor  marking  on  more  than  one  occasion  last  season. In  fact  Marcus  Holness  was  the  more  consistent  centre  half. Nevertheless  he  signed  off  with  a  goal  in  his  last  game  at  home  to  Peterborough.

He  now  has  the  challenge  of  making  his  mark  in  the  Premiership  and  I  wouldn't  bet  against  him.

431 Kenny Arthur

Position : Goalkeeper

Played : 2009-10

Appearances : 15

Goals : 0

So  now  we  come  to  the  climax  of  the  story  , the  historic  2009-10  season  when  the  Holy  Grail  was  grasped  at  last. It's  hard  to  think  that  back  n  September  it  didn't  look  very  promising  at  all  with  a  wafer-thin  squad  containing -  Jason  Kennedy  apart -  some  less- than-inspiring  new  signings  plus  the  unwanted  Shaw,  Keltie  and  Higginbotham   and  our  leading  goalscorer  departing  for  Rotherham.  But  how  wrong  we  were  , the  fabulous  form  of  rookie  centre  half  Craig  Dawson  and  an  inspired  use  of  the  loan  market  saw  a  string  of  great  results  that  finally  gott  us  to  the  Promised  Land.  That  we  made  hard  work  of  getting  over  the  line  following  the  understandable  but  wrong  decision  to  replace  Kennedy  with  Gary  Jones  needn't  be  lingered  over.

Kenny  was  the  new  keeper  brought  in  to  replace  Sam  Russell  on  a  free  from  Accrington. He  was  30  and  had  spent  10  years  at  Partick  Thistle  making  243  appearances  before  moving  south  with  Accrington  in  May  2007. He  had  played  66  games  for  Stanley.

A  Scottish  goalkeeper  freed  by  a  team  we  regularly  thumped  didn't  exactly  set  the  pulses  racing  but  Kenny  wasn't  as  bad  as  feared . He  was  6'2  and  had  a  commanding  presence  in  the  box  but  the  alarm  bells  rang  in  the  3-3 draw  at  Morecambe  where  he  was  very  slow  getting  down  to  the  shot  for  the  first  two  goals. Kenny  injured  his  back  playing  against  his  old  team  in  October   and  did  himself  no  favours  playing  when  unfit  against  Luton  in  the  FA  Cup. By  the  time  he  recovered  the  management  had  decided  that  loanees  were  a  better  option  and  Kenny  sat  on  the  bench  until  a  final  outing  in  the  last  home  game  against  Burton.

He  moved  on  to  Grimsby  in  the  summer  and  made  28  appearances  last  season.

430 Tom Newey

Position : Left  back

Played : 2008-09  (on  loan  from  Grimsby)

Appearances : 2

Goals : 0

Tom  was  signed  in  March  ,finally  giving  us  some  cover  for  Tom  Kennedy. He  was  an  experienced  pro  who'd  started  with  Leeds   but  only  made  loan  appearances  for  Cambridge  and  Darlington  while  he  was  there. He  signed  for  Leyton  Orient  on  a  free  in  2003 . He  lost  his  place  after  54  appearances  and  moved  to  Cambridge  initially  on  loan  in  2005  being  part  of  the  side  relegated  to  the  Conference. He  then  switched  to  Grimsby  playing  150  games  and  scoring  3  goals  before  arriving  at  Spotland.

He  made  a  thankless  substitute  appearance  in  the  rout  at  Bournemouth  then  got  a  start  in  the  last  game  at  home  to  Gillingham  to  give  Tom  Kennedy  a  rest. It  diidn't  go  well  for  him  as  he  gave  the  ball  away  for  the  only  goal  of  the  game  so  it  was  adios  to  Tom  from  both  Rochdale  and  Grimsby.

Despite  that experience  Tom  has  maintained  his  League  career,  first  with  Bury  in  2009-10  where  he  made  32  appearances  and  then  Rotherham  last  season  when  he  made  38  so  good  on  him.

Tom  concludes  the  2008-09  season.

429 Gary Madine

Position : Forward

Played : 2008-09  ( on  loan  from  Carlisle )

Appearances : 3

Goals : 0

Gary  arrived  in  March   to  pep  up  the  forward  line. He  was  18  and  had  14  appearances  and  one  League  goal  to  his  credit. He'd  also  scored  against  us  in  the  FL  Trophy  earlier  in  the  season.

Gary  got  off  to  a  good  start  coming  on  as  sub  for  his  debut  at  Wycombe  and  tee'ing  up  Alfie's  last  minute  winner. On  the  strength  of  that  he  got  a  start  in  the  next  game  at  Chesterfield  and, oh  dear , he  was  atrocious. Anyone  who  saw  his  "performance"  that  night  will  have  been  surprised  by  his  progress  since.  A  brief  substitute  appearance  at  home  to  Port  Vale  brought  his  Dale  career  to  an  end.

He  got  a  few  more  games  for  Carlisle  under  his  belt  before  going  on  loan  to  Coventry  in  October  where  he  made  9  appearances  but  got  no  starts  and  no  goals  either. Then  it  was  3  more  games  for  Carlisle  before  a  barren  month  at  Chesterfield  ( who  can't  say  they  weren't  warned ). However  on  his  return  to  Carlisle  in  March  the  goals  started  to  come  and  he  scored  4  in  10  games. Last  season  he  was  a  regular  choice  and  scored  a  hat  trick  at  Hartlepool  and  then  4  in  the  FA  Cup  against  Tipton. In  January  he  signed  for  Sheffield  Wednesday  for  £800,000  and  scored  5  goals  in  22  games  for  them. He  scored  against  us  for  both  clubs  last  season.

428 Nicky Adams

Position :  Winger

Played : 2008-09  ( on  loan  from  Leicester ) ; 2010-11  ( initially  on  loan  from  Brentford )  to  ?

Appearances :  ( first  spell )  14 ; ( second  spell )  28  to  date

Goals :  (first  spell)  1   (second  spell) 0 to  date

Nicky arrived at the end of January having been a target for some time. He came through Bury’s Centre of Excellence and scored on his debut in October 2005. He went on to make 77 appearances scoring 14 goals and winning Welsh under-21 caps. In July 2008 he went to Leicester for £100,000 but a spell out of the side opened the door for us to sign him.

Despite scoring on his debut away at Dagenham Nicky wasn’t all that impressive first time round. I remember remarking to someone at Darlington, “I can’t see a hundred grand’s worth of player there”. He could cross a ball and was useful at set plays but couldn’t beat a man and a lot of attacks petered out when he got the ball.

Nicky returned to Leicester and got a few more games in 2009-10 with Leicester now in the Championship. However he was loaned out again to Leyton Orient for a month in January 2010. He made another handful of appearances on his return to take his Leicester total to 30 without scoring then moved to Brentford in the summer.

After 7 games it wasn’t working out for him there and Nicky rejoined us on loan in October, the deal being made permanent in January this year. Nicky has improved somewhat since his first spell. He still can’t take his man on the outside but is sharper and a more consistent threat. He’s also developed a good understanding with Scott Wiseman on the right. He’s still only scored one goal in three seasons so that’s something he’ll have to put right this year.