Sunday, 10 October 2010
161 Chris Lee
Position : Midfield
Played : 1990-91
Appearances : 26
Goals : 2
We move into 1990-91 now, a season that came to be defined by the player we're about to discuss.
Chris was signed from Bradford reserves and was the son of Dolan's assistant manager Jeff Lee, the first of three villainous number two's in this story. Dolan announced him as "a chip off the old block" as if we all remembered a journeyman fullback for Halifax and Peterborough in the 70s. He was handed a first team place straightaway with Steve O Shaughnessy dropping back into defence and Dave Cole missing out.
At first there seemed to be no problem as Dale started the season with back-to-back 4-0 victories but as the going got a bit harder people began to question what exactly Chris was bringing to the side. He just seemed to be a spare part, a ballwatcher while the game went on around him. The defining moment for any fan who was at Gillingham away that season was when he was put clean through on the keeper, Harvey Lim. As Lim came out, Chris slowed down and then trundled over to the corner flag waiting to pass the responsibility on to someone else; Lim looking totally bemused as we vented our anger at Lee's incompetence.
From then a bandwagon started to roll. Dave Cole was complaining to fans that the whole team was structured around Chris and apparently then-physio Dave Sutton was having words behind the scenes. Then the Observer's Les Barlow suggested he should have been substituted in a game. Dolan himself made things worse by making ridiculous claims like he kept Preston's Ian Bogie quiet in a Sherpa Van game ; Preston fans confirmed that Bogie, never the most consistent player, wanted a move and had been poor all season.
In December we signed a new midfielder, Steve Doyle but it was Micky Holmes who was dropped instead prompting a flood of letters to the Observer. After that Lee's name was booed when the team was read out and there was a massive cheer when he was substituted in one game.
The programme editor then entered the fray by printing his daughter's list of song titles that could be applied to players. Chris's was "The Son Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore". The Dad reacted by threatening to put the editor's lights out permanently and he promptly resigned. (I didn't like the bloke and was secretly rooting for Lee on that one).
Amidst this poisonous atmosphere the results were indifferent at best, Dale being stuck in midtable after such a bright start. Things resolved themselves abruptly when Dolan was poached by Hull and took Lee senior and the youth coach with him. Although the club loudly complained in order to get a compensation payout I think everyone was relieved to see them go. Dave Sutton who'd refused to go with them was rewarded with the caretaker post and his first action was to drop Chris from the side. A quickie transfer to Scarborough was arranged and we were shut of him.
Perhaps surprisingly Chris did enough to earn a permanent contract at Scarborough and played 78 games for them (3 goals) before being released in 1993. His long-expected move to Hull then followed and he played 116 games for them over the next three seasons - the author of a similar website on Hull players comments :
Son of the assistant manager and employee of the Chairman, Chris Lee had to break into the City first team the hard way. Committed and hard tackling, Chris was, alas, pants
In 1996, with Hull relegated to the bottom division for the first time Dolan finally released him and he went to Guiseley.