Saturday, 28 August 2010

131 Neil Edmonds

I  think  the  Scunthorpe  defender  centre  shot  might  be  Tony  Brown

Position : Forward

Played : 1988-89 to 1989-90

Appearances : 47

Goals : 8

Neil was initially signed on loan from Oldham as cover for Chris Beaumont’s injury. He had made five appearances for their first team in defence but in a recent reserve game had been played upfront and run amok with four goals so he came to us as a striker.

He did well enough to get taken on although understandably he was still learning the trade upfront. He’s the only Dale player I’ve ever seen take instruction on his position for a corner from a loudmouthed fan in the Sandy Lane. He was sent off at Doncaster in February 1989 (the first away game I drove to - and crashed on the way back) for celebrating our equaliser with the words “That’s how to score you f**king cheats” (in reference to their earlier penalty which Dave Frain had been sent off for contesting). Neil was kept on for the following season but Terry Dolan didn’t use him much. His last contribution to our fortunes was a pass on to Kevin Stonehouse in the move that led to the latter’s winning goal against Marine at Anfield in the FA Cup First Round in November 1989.

When released Neil moved on to Chorley and then Stalybridge Celtic where he settled at right back for a number of seasons. Which leads to the interesting observation (well I thought so) that four out of the five main strikers we used in 1988-89 (the exception being the returning Steve Taylor) ended up playing in a different position for their subsequent clubs.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

130 Paul Wood

No picture of Paul

Position : Winger

Played : 1988-89 (on loan from Sheffield United)

Appearances : 5

Goals : 0

Paul was a winger taken on loan from Sheffield United for whom he made just one League appearance. He made little impact in his time at Spotland and we weren’t interested in extending the loan. He moved on to Hyde United but made just one substitute appearance after which I lose track of him. Shortly after he left Sheffield United they signed another Paul Wood from Brighton but the two should not be confused.

129 Chris Beaumont

Position : Forward

Played : 1988-89

Appearances : 34

Goals : 7

Chris was another latecomer to the professional game, an office worker who’d caught Danny Bergara’s eye while playing for Denaby United alongside his son Simon. Chris got injured early on so his reappearance late into the autumn gave the team a shot in the arm. Chris was a bit short of pace but had great skill and control and was our best player after Mark Smith had moved on.

Unfortunately Bergara returned to poach him in the summer so we only enjoyed half a season of his talents. At Stockport he settled into a more midfield role and was an integral part of the side that started climbing the divisions. He made 258 appearances for Stockport scoring 39 goals before moving on to Chesterfield in 1996 at the age of 30. He played in the FA Cup Semi-Final against Middlesbrough in 1997 and racked up another 158 appearances (6 goals) before his release in 2001. He returned to non-league football with Ossett Town and now runs a post office.

Monday, 23 August 2010

128 Mark Smith

Position : Forward

Played : 1988-89

Appearances : 27

Goals : 7

Mark was signed from Kettering. He had started out with Sheffield United but never made the first team and dropped into non-league with Worksop and Gainsborough. In 1985-6 he got another chance with Scunthorpe but only played one game for them before moving on to Kettering. He was 26 when we signed him.

Mark was played upfront but was really a winger so his style was rather unorthodox. Nevertheless he was quite effective, being able to shield the ball and play others in as well as grabbing some goals himself. His best game was away at Grimsby when he scored two of the goals in a 3-1 win. After we played them in the First Round of the FA Cup , Huddersfield came calling and we sold him for £35,000. Mark achieved the rare feat of playing 47 League games that season.

Huddersfield restored him to the wing and he played 96 games for them scoring 11 goals. In 1991 he was sold to Grimsby scoring 4 in 77 games for them. He then returned to Scunthorpe for two years scoring 8 in 62 games before dropping back to non-league with Boston. He played for a number of sides in the South Yorkshire area before retiring and had spells managing Buxton and Maltby Main.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

127 David Frain

Position : Midfield

Played : 1988-89

Appearances : 42

Goals : 12

David was signed on a free transfer from Sheffield United. He was a late starter in the professional game afer signing for the Blades from a youth club side at 23. He had made 44 appearances scoring 5 goals.

With all due respect to Gary Jones David was the best midfield player I've seen at Spotland. He was intelligent, combative and prolific, player of the season by miles. At the end of the season he was offered the best contract ever at Spotland according to the Chairman but he decided to join Danny Bergara's squad at Stockport instead. I can't remember what fee was set by the tribunal but it wasn't enough.

David was part of the Stockport team that won the Fourth Division title in 1991 and stayed with them until 1995 when he went to Mansfield on loan before his release. Strangely enough it took him his entire Stockport career (187 appearances) to equal the goal tally he achieved in one season at Dale. He went into non-league with Stalybridge Celtic and later played for Worksop Town and Hallam FC

Friday, 20 August 2010

126 Dave Sutton

Position : Centre half

Played : 1988-89

Appearances : 28

Goals : 2

And so we come to the most colourful character associated with Dale in my time watching them. Dave was signed on a free from Bolton Wanderers having just helped them squeeze back into the Third Division through the play-offs (in my Stockport-supporting friend’s view they were the worst team ever to go up). Although born in Lancashire he began his career with Plymouth. After 61 appearances plus 9 on loan at Reading in 1977-78 he was signed by Huddersfield and was a vital part of the side that rose from the Fourth to Second Division in the early 80s. Manager Mick Buxton regarded him as one of his best-ever signings as a centre half willing to put his body on the line. In 1985 he signed for Bolton suffering relegation (and a monster perm) with them in 1986-7.

Dave gave us an early taste of what was to come by ludicrously over-celebrating his penalty in a Manx Cup shoot-out at Burnden Park but in the first few games of the season he was dreadful , knocking us out of the League Cup against Burnley singlehandedly with some schoolboy errors. Then we had an away game at Hartlepool which we won 1-0 and he was immense. After that he was by some distance our best defender and a key reason why we stayed out of the bottom four. However, early in the new year he was advised by doctors to give up playing or risk serious damage to his back . Apparently he was willing to see out the season but Danny Bergara persuaded him to retire and arranged for him to become club physio. He was caretaker for three games after Bergara left for Stockport , all of which we lost then returned to the physio role under Terry Dolan.

When Dolan left for Hull in 1990-91 he invited Dave to join him but Dave stayed put and became caretaker-manager. Despite Dale treading water for the rest of that season he was given the permanent job and allowed to spend the bulk of the money raised by the sale of Keith Welch on players like Andy Flounders. Dale just missed out on the playoffs in 1991-2 (having benefitted from the mid-season demise of Aldershot). The following season we fell back a bit after a bad injury to Andy Milner and finished 12th. In 1993-4 he further strengthened the squad with Mark Stuart and Martin Hodge in the summer and a good finish almost got us in the playoffs again. Those are the bare facts but we all remember the outrageous statements and predictions , the winding up of opposing managers and most of all the “spastic on the plastic” antics at half time at Deepdale in 1993 when he preferred orchestrating the crowd to giving a half time team talk.

However Sooty was already sowing the seeds of his own downfall. A persistent weakness throughout his reign was his willingness to relieve his friend Bergara of any troublemakers at Stockport and this culminated in the disastrous and expensive signing of Paul Williams. This was compounded by other poor signings - Darren Ryan, Chris Clarke, Darren Oliver – and meant a weak start to the 1994-5 season. Things looked even bleaker when Alan Reeves left for Wimbledon and the knives came out for Sooty from those he’d managed to offend with his big mouth. His last, fatal, mistake was the loan signing of goalkeeper Matt Dickins whose incompetence led to a run of heavy defeats in October 1994. Sooty was shown the door giving it some crap about how Bill Shankly had once been sacked.

Although he applied for a vacancy at Northampton he eventually turned up at then-ambitious Chorley but despite some relatively heavy spending he achieved very little there and called it a day after a couple of years to run his father’s garden centre on the road between Preston and Southport where he remains to this day.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

125 Simon Copeland

Position : Right back (also played at centre half )

Played : 1988-89

Appearances: 28

Goals : 0

Simon was one of Danny Bergara's close season signings from Sheffield United reserves. He had never played in the League before and possibly that's the way it should have stayed. Simon was a tall lad with a rigid stance and a fierce shot which rattled the crossbar from 35 yards in a Manx Cup game at Bolton. Unfortunately he had no positional sense at all and often went missing when needed. He was also a regular in the referee's notebook for mistimed tackles. Terry Dolan got rid of him at the first opportunity.

He moved on to Gainsborough Trinity and later played for Alfreton Town.

124 Steve O Shaughnessy

Thanks  to  Mark  Wilbraham  for  spotting  that  the  previous picture  was  incorrect.

Position : Midfield (also played centre half)

Played : 1988-89 to 1990-91

Appearances : 109

Goals : 16

Here's a player I thought was seriously over-rated by many fans (one of my mates had Steve's picture on his wall long after he'd left the club) and here's the first of them. Steve was the other player signed by Eddie Gray just before he left and inevitably had been a junior at Leeds before moving to Bradford for whom he had made just one league appearance.

Ostensibly a centre half , Danny Bergara played Steve in midfield and he attracted a lot of praise in the early games of the season and I couldn't see why. His touch was awful and for a big guy he was hopeless in the air and didn't put himself about as much as you'd expect. Terry Dolan was the manager who'd let him go at Bradford and he did the same again at the end of the season but then changed his mind. It was in the subsequent season that "Shosh" showed where his real talent lay - taking piledriver free kicks and he scored some memorable goals ; the one that springs most to mind is the one at home to Scarborough in the Worthington Cup in 1990 which was so far out that Scarborough didn't construct a wall and then saw it fly into the top corner. For that 1990-91 season he was moved back to centre half to accommodate the infamous Chris Lee which was a risky switch given Steve's allergy to heading the ball.

Steve didn't fancy sticking around for the Dave Sutton era and Alan Ball signed him for Exeter for £10,000. The move failed to work out and Steve headed north to Darlington after only 3 appearances for them. Steve made 88 appearances for the Quakers over 3 seasons, at one point being made team captain, but surprisingly only scored twice. He was released in the summer of 1994 and after a brief spell in Hong Kong started a long career in the League of Wales only interrupted by a season at Stalybridge Celtic in 1995-96. By the time he retired in 2004 he had played for 10 different Welsh clubs. He has also managed four of them , his most recent being Gap Connah's Quay who he left in 2009.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

123 Andy Armitage

Andy is the first player on the back row from left.

Position : Left back

Played : 1988-89

Appearances : 36

Goals : 0

Now we come to the 1988-89 season, a transitional one which rarely gets mentioned these days probably because most of the players involved didn’t stay at the club for long. There were no Cup runs, no big money signings and we stayed around the same place in the table all season. But after two horrific seasons, anonymity in lower mid-table seemed like a blessed relief and although the wheels looked like they were coming off towards the end of Danny Bergara’s short stint in charge he did better than expected what with two full backs who hadn’t played a League game between them and two strikers who had just the one (some years before) to boast.

One of those fullbacks was Andy signed from Leeds at the end of his YTS period there. He was actually one of two players signed in the close season by Eddie Gray before Hull came calling. Unfortunately he was rubbish, having the Les Chapman disease in more virulent form. He’d trundle up to the halfway line, stop dead and then pass the ball back to the centre half for a punt upfield. Although he played most of the season Terry Dolan was quick to release him.

He went on to Guiseley who played him in a more attacking midfield role where he did well. He later player- managed Calverley Victoria in the Bradford Sunday Alliance.

Monday, 16 August 2010

122 Danny Crerand

Position : Midfield

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 3

Goals : 0

Danny completes the 1987-88 season. He was signed from a local league side in Altrincham and was the son of the obnoxious ex -Man U rentaquote Paddy Crerand (the man Gary Neville clearly aspires to replace).

Danny was his father's son in a modest degree being able to pass the ball accurately but also being horrendously slow and in the modern game that was a fatal flaw. Danny Bergara didn't want to keep him on and he signed for Altrincham at the start of the 1988-89 season.

In 2004 he suffered serious injuries in a hit and run incident.

121 Paul Hancox

Position : Midfield

Played : 1987-88 to 1988-89 (didn't appear in latter season)

Appearances : 2

Goals : 0

Not much I can say here. Paul was a YTS lad who made a couple of appearances (probably as sub) towards the end of the season. I have a vague recollection of a tall fair-haired lad, There's no record of where he went after his release from Spotland.

120 Ernie Moss

Position : Forward

Played : 1987-88 (on loan from Scarborough)

Appearances : 10

Goals : 2

Following the return of John Moore to Sunderland , Eddie Gray’s final centre-forward of the season was the 38 – year old veteran on loan from Scarborough. Ernie was one of those consistent lower division scorers you don’t seem to get any more. Either they get snapped up (eg Jonathan Stead) or get found out after a couple of seasons (eg John Newby). He started out with Chesterfield in the late 60s after playing for a works side and played 271 games scoring 95 goals before moving to Peterborough in 1976 (35 apps, 9 goals). He won a Third Division Championship medal with Mansfield in 1976-77, their subsequent unhappy season in the Second being his only experience of the higher divisions. Following Mansfield’s relegation he returned to Chesterfield for another three years before short spells with Port Vale, Lincoln and Doncaster before again signing for Chesterfield at the age of 35 becoming their record goalscorer .Colin Murphy signed him for Stockport in 1986 and he helped them avoid relegation with 7 goals.He then moved to Scarborough in their first League season but had dropped out of the first team picture by the time we signed him.

Ernie made his debut in a 0-0 draw at Bolton in March 1988. He looked a bit creaky by this time but mustered a couple of goals to take his final League tally to 245 (in 747 appearances). They were both headers , away at Swansea (deliriously celebrated by the handful of us there) and at home to Leyton Orient in Eddie Gray’s final fixture at Spotland.

After that he dropped out of league football but helped Kettering to a good FA Cup run the following season. He finally retired in 1992 having also played for Matlock and Shepshed Charterhouse. He went straight into management, assisting at Boston for two years before taking over at Gainsborough Trinity. He has also managed Leek, Matlock, Hucknall and Belper. He runs a sports shop Moss and Miller, the latter being a cricketer and still turns out in charity matches.

Friday, 13 August 2010

119 Stuart Mellish

Stuart is the guy furthest right on the bottom row

Position : Midfield

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 27

Goals : 1

Stuart was a YTS player blooded later in the season. He was relatively impressive, showing an appetite for tackling and generally keeping possession.

He was retained for 1988-89 and made more appearances under Danny Bergara who mentioned him in a feature on “Kick Off”. However he failed to impress Terry Dolan who released him at the end of the season.

He moved on to Altrincham and later had spells with Barrow, Southport and North Trafford .

Thursday, 12 August 2010

118 John Moore

Position : Forward

Played : 1987-88 (on loan from Sunderland)

Appearances : 10

Goals : 2

Realising that Dean Walling wasn’t quite up to it, Eddie Gray started bringing in strikers on loan starting with burly John from Sunderland. He had been with them since 1984 and made sporadic appearances in the first team but we were the fourth club to take him on loan.

He made an impressive start with a well-taken goal on his debut away at Peterborough and generally looked a useful target man (although Les Barlow’s instant judgement that he could be another Reg Jenkins was amusing rather than accurate). We couldn’t afford to sign him permanently so he went back to Roker Park after 10 games.

Eddie Gray made him one of his first signings when he went to Hull but it was a disaster, John scoring only once and attracting derision (and insinuations about his drinking) from the crowd. He only made 14 appearances plus 5 goalless games on loan at Sheffield United before being sold to FC Utrecht in 1989. He achieved his best stats in the season he spent with them scoring 8 in 30 appearances (his tally for Dale was actually his best in English football). The following year he returned to England with Shrewsbury but only played 8 games scoring once. After a single appearance for Crewe , his last League club was Scarborough for whom he scored once in 7 appearances in 1991-2. He then moved to Bishop Auckland before a 10 year stint in Hong Kong football including playing for the national side. He returned to England aged 36 for a brief spell with Durham City in 2002-03.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

117 Carl Harris

Position : Winger

Played : 1987-88 to 1988-89

Appearances : 25

Goals : 3

The first new signing after the financial crisis was the 31-year old ex- Leeds and Wales right winger who had been struggling to commute to Airdrie from his South Wales home after being released by Bury in the summer. Carl had begun his career with eight seasons at Leeds where he often shone (Ipswich and England full back Mick Mills rated him his most difficult opponent) but never really made himself essential to the first team. His best season was 1980-81 where he was leading scorer with 10 goals from 37 appearances. All his 24 caps (1 goal) were won while at Leeds. When Leeds were relegated in 1982 he was sold to Charlton for £100,000. His three seasons there were-injury-hit but he made 76 appearances scoring seven then had two years at Bury where he scored 5 in 38 appearances.

In his first few games he looked lethargic and uninterested and was having a stinker away at Crewe in January 1988 when suddenly something clicked into place and he started roasting the left back. Crewe eventually had to switch their full backs around to cope with him, a great compliment to the player. Thereafter he looked our most dangerous player after the departure of Mark Gavin. Some of his pace had gone but he still had great sleight of foot and could put a good cross over like the one from which Ernie Moss scored his last goal in League football at home to Leyton Orient in April. He stayed for a short while after Gray’s departure but was finding the travelling irksome and arranged his own transfer to Exeter.

He saw the 1988-89 season out with them, usually coming off the bench, then became player-manager of his local side Briton Ferry Athletic. After leaving them he spent another three years playing for a variety of sides in the Welsh Premier league until hanging up his boots in 1997 at the age of 41. He is now the proprietor of a removals business which he took over from his father-in-law.

116 Dave Mycock

Position : Left back (also played as a winger)

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 22

Goals : 0

Dave was a YTS lad who made his debut in a Freight Rover tie at home to Tranmere in November 1987. He started on the left wing but had to move into the midfield when someone was sent off (Lyndon Simmonds I think). He acquitted himself well , making his tackles and finding his team-mates but never got another chance in that position. When the financial crisis hit he was drafted in at left back when Peter Hampton departed and struggled to impress there. He was eventually replaced by Brian Stanton. His appearances total amazes me ; I’d have said a dozen at most.

He was released at the end of the season and moved to Chorley while finding work as a van driver. He had to quit the game through injury and went on to college. He is now a lecturer in Sports Science at the University of Worcester. His c.v. claims a spell at Bolton Wanderers but none of the records support that (why do they do this ?) .

Monday, 9 August 2010

115 Dean Walling

Position : Forward

Played : 1987-88 to 1989-90

Appearances : 65

Goals : 8

Now we come to a controversial one; Deano polarised opinion like no other player before Joe Thompson (only the small band of devoted Barrow arse-lickers made a case for Mark Bailey so he doesn’t count). Dean was another youngster signed from Leeds in the summer of 1987.

Initially he became a hero through not playing. 1987-88 was the first season where two substitutes were allowed in League games but Eddie Gray was reluctant to use even one so Dean sat on the bench for the first three months of the season with Gray ignoring the growing clamour to bring him on as the team struggled. Eventually the financial crisis forced Gray’s hand and , oh dear, the shine came off very quickly. Dean was a tall lad and usually got his head to the ball but where it went next was completely unpredictable apart from the fact that it wouldn’t be anywhere near his partner’s run. On the ground Dean was just hopeless. His two goals ( with his head) were scored home and away against Newport , his being the last ever League goal at Somerton Park.

The following season he was no better and the arguments raged. The pro-camp always came out with “he tries so hard” which was undeniable but I always think if a young player making his way into the game isn’t trying he shouldn’t be in football at all; that alone isn’t worth a shirt. He improved just enough towards the end of the season, perhaps benefitting from Steve Taylor’s know-how, to survive Terry Dolan’s scorched–earth clearout of the Bergara squad. That meant he lined up in 1989-90 alongside Kevin Stonehouse in probably the worst strike partnership (with the even worse Robbie Wellhans as backup) we’ve ever fielded and the initial home games of that season were like watching paint dry - 0-0 being a regular scoreline. He scored a notable goal to win the game away at table-topping Carlisle when he headed in after coming on as sub. I got some stick from others in the crowd for heckling the decision to bring him on.

Which leads on to the reason I’m grateful to Dean. In February 1990 we played Hartlepool away and conceded a goal early on at the far end. I must admit I didn’t see the initial incident ; either Dean failed to clear or impeded Keith Welch getting to the ball but whatever it was caused the normally ice-cool Welch to run off his line to remonstrate with and shove him. This was the trigger for myself and one or two others to heckle Dean whereupon “the dick” (as mentioned in the Geoff Lomax post) completely lost it and started ranting hysterically at me. One result was that we’ve ignored each other pretty much from that moment on ; the other was that it cemented my friendship with two other hecklers (who actually kept the exchange going much longer than me) who’ve been my match-mates ever since. So cheers for that, Dean !

At the end of that season Dolan had seen enough and sent him on his way. After spending the summer playing for Canada he signed for Guiseley and started banging in the goals so much so that he got a second bite at League football when Carlisle signed him a year later. He struggled once again but someone at Brunton Park had the genius idea of switching him to centre half. Facing the ball and getting stuck in , Dean was an instant success (a few years down the line many would suggest a similar move for Clive Platt) and he became a hero for the Cumbrians , scoring in the 1997 Auto-Windscreens Final. After 6 years he became (and still is I think) Lincoln’s record signing for £75,000 when Chairman-manager Michael Knighton let him go. While at Lincoln he played for St Kitts in two World Cup qualifying matches and helped the Imps win their last promotion. He missed most of the following season through inury then was sold to Doncaster for £25,000 when he was thirty. In 2001 he moved to Northwich but then got another opportunity to return to League football playing 20 games for Cambridge in 2001-02 .He finished his career with spells at Gainsborough and Nuneaton retiring in 2003. He now runs his own Pro-Soccer Academy in Lincolnshire.

114 Andy Duggan

Andy is on the far left of the back row.

Position : Centre half

Played : 1987-88 (on loan from Huddersfield) , 1990-91

Appearances: (loan spell) 3 (second spell) 1

Goals : 0

Andy was a blonde giant from Barnsley specifically brought in to punish John Bramhall for speaking his mind after the 8-0 thrashing at Leyton Orient. He looked quite good but the financial crisis meant he was a luxury we couldn't afford and Bramhall got his place back.

Andy went on to Huddersfield for whom he made 29 appearances. In March 1991 Dave Sutton brought him back to Spotland on permanent terms but he got injured in the first half of his first game away at York. It didn't look like a career-ender but he doesn't seem to have played for anyone after that.

113 Zac Hughes

Position : Centre half

Played : 1987-88 to 1990-91 (only played for first team in 1987-88)

Appearances : 2

Goals : 0

Zac was a 16-year old YTS player flung into the side away at Exeter in September 1987 when we were caught short. It made him (and he still is) the youngest player ever to play for us He must have done OK as we came away with a draw. He played one other game that season then that was it.

The trouble was, having that record seemed to make the club reluctant to part company with him and he was still hanging around into the Dave Sutton era. Not much harm in that you'd say but during that time we let go of another young centre half who went on to play for Bury, Preston, Huddersfield and Sheffield United, command six figure fees and still hasn't confirmed his retirement. Zac by contrast went to Chadderton and thence total obscurity.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

112 Derrick Parker

Position : Forward

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 7

Goals : 1

With Derek Parlane struggling the similarly-named Derrick was brought in in September having been playing for Finnish side Haka Valkeakoski.

Derrick was 30, an experienced striker who'd started his career at Burnley before moving to Southend in 1976. He scored 19 goals in 1977-78 to help them win promotion from the Fourth Division. In 1980 he moved up a Division with Barnsley where he is well-remembered before moving to Oldham for £40,000 in 1983. He spent two seasons at Boundary Park but ended his spell there on loan at Doncaster. He re-joined Burnley in 1976 scoring 10 goals in 43 appearances.

Derrick made a good start scoring on his debut in the League Cup at Wimbledon but looked uncomfortable in a three man attack with Parlane and Lyndon Simmonds (who seemed hostile towards him). I seem to recall his one League goal was a fluke , a flick-on header that looped over the keeper but can't remember the opposition. I thought we could have got a bit more out of him but he was released after 7 games.

He went on to play for a number of non-league clubs into the early 90s including Northwich and Altrincham. He is now sales manager for Carlton Brick Company in Grimethorpe and a match summariser for Radio Sheffield.

Friday, 6 August 2010

111 Lee Warren

Position : Midfield (also played in defence)

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 31

Goals : 1

In October 1987 with things not going particularly well Eddie Gray returned to Leeds and bought another defender for a small fee. Lee made his League debut with Dale (away at Cardiff I think) in defence but soon got moved into midfield to replace the departed Ronnie Coyle.

It was very much a like for like swap with Lee protecting the back four but struggling to do anything creative. A Sunday newspaper report that Wimbledon were looking at him which described him as a “hot property” met with widespread derision. I recall that his parents used to travel on the Supporters Coach to away games and his dad had the most preposterous jet black wig you’ve ever seen. He scored one, good goal in our penultimate home game (Wrexham possibly ?).

When Eddie Gray left for Hull he immediately came back for Lee for £40,000 IIRC which was a decent profit. Gray only lasted a season at Boothferry Park. Though not a regular under Gray’s immediate successors (at one point being loaned out to Lincoln) Lee stayed on and played for six seasons at Hull scoring once in 153 appearances. In 1994 he moved on to Doncaster where he reverted back to defence and stayed with them to the bitter end of the Ken Richardson era in 1997-98 by which time he was virtually the only senior pro left at the club. He continued with them for another two seasons in the Conference then moved on to Barrow where he became Assistant-Manager in 2003. Two years later he resigned saying he wanted to prolong his playing career and moved to Goole then shortly afterwards Brigg Town. As of last season he was still playing for Bottesford Town near Scunthorpe.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

110 Nigel Thompson

Position : Midfield

Played : 1987-88 (on loan from Leeds United)

Appearances : 5

Goals : 0

Nigel was brought in on loan from Leeds for whom he had made half a dozen first team appearances to boost the squad. Ostensibly a midfielder he made no impact whatsoever in the games he played. Later that season he moved to Chesterfield for £10,000. He made few waves there either making 20 appearances (1 goal) over three seasons before dropping into non-league with Goole Town.

109 Mark Gavin

Position : Winger

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 23

Goals : 6

Eddie Gray’s biggest signing was his former protégée at Leeds for £20,000 from Bolton. Mark made his League debut for Leeds under Gray in the Second Division making 30 appearances plus seven on loan to Hartlepool before joining Carlisle in 1985. After only 13 appearances he was snapped up by Bolton. He won their Player of the Year award in 1986-7 but they were relegated and manager Phil Neal publicly expressed doubts about his appetite for a battle.

It’s debatable whether Mark was a good signing or not. He was certainly a skilful player , a pure winger who drew a lot of fouls and could score great goals out of nothing (his goal ratio for us was actually the best of his career) . On the other hand Neal was right about his reluctance to track back and defend and so the team was re-shaped to accommodate this ( Brian Stanton being the victim) with no improvement in results. This was shown most clearly in the home game against Swansea in November when Mark scored a great individual goal late in the second half. Unfortunately it was probably the least applauded goal in our history as we were 0-3 down at the time and most of us were behind the dugout calling for Gray’s head when he scored. It was greeted with jeers of “too late ! “ rather than clapping.

As a saleable asset Mark’s days were numbered when the financial crisis hit and he was soon off to Hearts for £30,000. He was not a success there making only 9 appearances before returning to England with Bristol City the following season. He impressed there and in 1990 went to Watford for £250,000 plus Wayne Allison. Unfortunately City got the best of the deal and Mark returned there the following season after only 13 appearances for the Hornets. He was there for another two and a half seasons before moving on to Exeter in 1993. He spent three years there before short spells with Scunthorpe, Hartlepool and Morton. He retired in 1997.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

108 Ronnie Coyle

Position : Midfield

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 24

Goals : 1

Having signed the defending-averse Mark Gavin, Eddie Gray sought to balance things out by having an extra defensive midfielder rather than another winger on the right. In a preview of what was to come under Graham Barrow he signed centre-half Ronnie from Middlesbrough for a few grand to do the job. Aside from the positional question, Ronnie had also played very little first team football for a man of 26*, two games for Celtic, another eight on loan at Clyde and three for Middlesbrough.

As might be expected Ronnie was a decent tackler but whenever he had to do anything more creative he cocked it up. He scored two memorable goals, at home to Tranmere in the League Cup where he ran straight through the middle and slotted home and at home to Scarborough in the League when he volleyed home from a tight angle after messing up a much easier chance a minute earlier. When the financial crisis struck Raith Rovers came in for him with a £10,000 bid and we took the money.

It looked more than likely that that would be the last we’d ever hear of him but eight years later he was still playing for Raith as a sweeper when they had a run in the UEFA Cup and played against Bayern Munich. After 253 appearances for Raith he moved on to Ayr United and had short spells with Albion Rovers, East Fife and Queen’s Park before retiring at 38. He now works as a sales manager in Glasgow and recently survived a cancer scare.

* Sources conflict as to Ronnie's actual birth year between 1961 (taken to be correct here) and 1965.

Monday, 2 August 2010

107 Peter Hampton

Position : Left back

Played : 1987-88

Appearances : 19

Goals : 1

If Geoff Lomax wasn't very good at right back, the guy on the other side was far worse. Peter began his career at Leeds and when we signed him was one of only two players left in the League who'd played for Don Revie at club level (the other being Eddie Gray's brother Frank). He'd never really broken into the first team at Elland Road and in 1980 moved on to Stoke for first team football. After four seasons there he moved to Burnley under John Bond and it's no wonder Bond can't show his face there with signings of this calibre. He was given a lucrative three year contract and after helping them get relegated in his first season was transfer-listed at £0 but no one was interested.

Eddie Gray ended up signing him because a left back from Celtic changed his mind about signing for us on the eve of the season. Peter was absolutely atrocious, slow and prone to error. He was only on month-to-month terms but a humble phone call to Dave Grant would have been a much better option. Thankfully the financial crisis meant he was made redundant after 19 games and he went to Carlisle as player-physio making another 12 appearances which no doubt helped keep them below us in the table. He was there for a number of years but later managed Workington.