Tuesday, 30 November 2010

206 Jamie Taylor

Jamie  is  the  third  player  from  the  left  in  the  back  row. The  infamous  Matt  Dickins  is  the  man  in  green.

Position : Forward  ( also played  in  midfield )

Played : 1993-94  to  1996-97

Appearances : 36

Goals : 4

Jamie was on  the  YTS  scheme  debuting  at  16  as  a  sub  at  home  to  Gillingham  in  December  1993  to  the  usual,  and  by  now,  irksome  fanfare  of  bullshit  from  the  boss. At  just  5'6  and under  10  stone  Jamie  had  his  work  cut  out  to  make  it  in  professional  football  and  it  never  quite  worked  out.

He  made  10  appearances  in  his  first  season  all  but  one  as  a  substitute  and  scored  his  first  League  goal  in  the  6-2  rout  of  Northampton  on  New  Year's  Day  1994.  The following  season  he  made  one  less  appearance , didn't  score  and  didn't  start  a  game  until  the  last  day  of  the  season  when  he  had  the  pleasure  of  featuring  in an embarassing  5-0  drubbing  at  Fulham. Things  looked  more  promising  the  following  year  when  he  got  the  nod  to  start  against  Hartlepool  as  a  lesson  to  Paul  Williams  after  the  York  debacle. Jamie  took  the  opportunity  and  scored  a  hat-trick  through  being  the  first  to  react  to  things  in  the  box. However  we  had  already  just  signed  a  more  experienced  goal  poacher  in  Paul  Moulden  and  Jamie  was  back  on  the  bench  for  the  next  game. Later  in  the  season  injuries  meant  he  was  brought  back  in  as  a  midfielder  but  that  was  hopeless. He  didn't  have  the  physique  to  win  challenges  and  didn't  have  the  vision  to  compensate. He  had  a  contract  for  the  following  season  but  Graham  Barrow  had  already  said  we  were  too  lightweight  under  Docherty  and  he  wrote  him  off  at  first  glance  giving  him just  one  more  substitute  appearance  to  complete  his  League  career.

Jamie  went  to  Altrincham  and  played  in  midfield   there  for  two  seasons. He  was  last  heard  of  at  Ramsbottom  in  2007 

Monday, 29 November 2010

205 Paul Williams

Position :  Forward  (also  played  at  centre  half)

Played :  1993-94  (initially  on  loan  from  Stockport)  to  1995-96

Appearances : 37

Goals : 7

Now  we  come  to  one of  our  most  controversial  signings  and  the  most  disastrous  consequence  of  the  Bergara-Sutton  relationship. Paul  was  initially  signed  on  loan  from  Stockport  in  November  1993.
He  was  the  son  of  Betty  Williams  the  Nobel  Peace  Prize  winner  from  Northern  Ireland  who  was  widely  perceived  to  have  retired  on  the  proceeds. He  was  with  Leeds  as  a  youth  but  didn't  make  the  grade  and  played  for  Distillery  in  Northern  Ireland. He  was  actually  first  linked  with  us  back  in  the  80s  when  Vic  Halom  gave  him  a  trial  but  that  didn't  work  out  so he  went  to  Nuneaton. John McGrath took  him  to  Preston  but let  him  go  again  after  only  one  game  at  centre  half. He  signed  for  Newport  in  1987  for  their  last  disastrous  season  in  the  league  and  ended  up playing  at  centre  forward  because  there  was  no one  else. He  scored  3 goals  and that  got  him  a  £17,000  move  to  Sheffield  United  In  March  1988.  They  were   relegated  at  the  end  of  the  season   and  Paul  was  discarded  after  only  8  appearances  moving  to  Hartlepool  for  £3,000  in  1989. He  only  got  8  games  there  and  joined  Stockport  on  a  free  in  1990. It  really  was  last  chance  saloon  but  Paul  thrived  on  Andy  Kilner's  crosses  and  scored  14  in  24 games. That  resulted  in   a  £250,000  move  to  West  Brom  in  March  1991  which  is  still  surrounded  by  rumour. Stockport  had  another Paul  Williams  a  young  black  defender  and  the  story  went  out  that  assistant-manager  Stuart  Pearson  had  signed  the  wrong  one  with  manager  Bobby  Gould  coming  into  the  dressing  room  the next  day  and  asking  Paul  "Who  the  hell  are  you ?"  At  the  time  Pearson  and  Gould  were  having  a  highly  unprofessional  public  feud  so  that  perhaps  fed  the  flames. Either  way  Paul  was  a  flop  at  The  Hawthorns  scoring  5  goals  in  44  appearances   and  regularly  being  nominated  as  their  worst  ever  player  although  surprisingly  that's  usually  accompanied  by  the  observation  that  he  tried  hard. Whilst  there  he  made  the  briefest  of  international  appearances  for  Northern  Ireland  as  a  late  sub  against  the  Faroe  Islands  in  1991   and  even  made  a  couple  of  appearances  in  the  Premiership  in  1992  when  Gould  took  him  on  loan  at  Coventry. Stockport  bought  him  back  for  10%  of  the  original  fee  in  January  1993  but  soon  came  to  regret  it. He  was  involved  in  controversy  when  he  launched  a  throw  into  the  area  for  the  winning  goal  against  Chesterfield  after  the  ball  had  been  put  into  touch  for  an  injury. He also  antagonised  everyone  at  the  club  by  flaunting  his  wealth  after  marrying  the  chairman's  daughter  so  Bergara   turned  to  his  usual  solution  to  a  problem  player.

Paul  made  his  debut  for  us  in  midfield  away  at   Crewe  and  did  absolutely  nothing  apart  from  score  a  spectacular  volley  from  the  edge  of  the  box. The  following  Monday  he  pulled  a  fast  one  on  both  clubs  by  telling  each  he  was  training  with  the  other. Despite  this  he  played  in  the  next  game  at  home  to  Bury  and  scored  a scrappy  winner. He  wasn't  allowed  to play  in  the  FA  Cup  games  so  he only  played  one  other  game  then  returned  to  Stockport.

That  should have been  the  end  of  it  but  Sutton  went  back  for  him  in  February  1994  and  ended  up  giving  him  a  2.5  year  deal  and  a big  signing-on  fee  as  Stockport  were  so  keen  to  offload  him  they  said  he  could  have  the  transfer  fee  himself. That  didn't  seem  to  have  rung  any  alarm  bells with  Sutton  although  Docherty  later  claimed  he  had  pleaded  with  Sutton  not  to  sign  him  knowing  he  was  a troublemaker.

Paul  was  a  massive  bloke, 6'3  and  over  14  stone  but  actually  not  that  good  in  the  air  because he  couldn't  get  off  the ground. His  nickname  Willow  was  appropriate  because  he  had  the  mobility  of  a  tree,  constantly  berating  his  team-mates  for  not  putting  the  ball  within  an  inch  of  his boot. I  thought  he  was  a  total  fraud  of  a  footballer  who  could  only  be  effective  when  opponents, conscious  of  his  size  and  mad  eyes,  gave  him  the  room  to  play. Anyone  brave  enough  to  get  up  close  could  just  snuff  him  out  of  the  game.  A  former  team-mate at  Stockport  that  I'd  better not  name  alleged  that  Paul  used  to  arrange  his  sendings-off  to  suit  his  social  calendar  and  when  you  saw   him  running  after  the  ref  at  Chester  (the  fastest  he  ever  moved  in  a  Dale  shirt)  to  harangue  him  over  a  penalty  until  he  saw  red  you  could  believe  it. Paul  didn't play  enough  games  that  season  to  qualify  as  a  "Rodney  Marsh"  signing  who  wrecked  our  play-off  chances  but  he  certainly  didn't  advance  them.

Paul  didn't  make  too  bad  a  start  to  the  1994-95  season  scoring  5  goals  in  the  first  9  games  and  being  actually  quite  impressive  when  he  went  in  goal  after  Chris  Clarke's  injury  during  an  Autoglass  game  at  Blackpool. It  didn't  last  as  he fell  out  with  Sutton  after  justified  criticism  of  his  awful  performance  at  the  back  away  at  Torquay  and  was  dropped  for  Sutton's  final  game  at  Hartlepool. Things  didn't  get  better  under  Docherty; he  made  a  substitute  appearance  in  his  first  game  then  didn't  feature  for  the  rest  of  the  season. Indeed  Docherty  started  making  him  a  scapegoat  for  the  club's  ills  saying  that  Williams'  long  expensive  contract  was  restricting  his  options.

In  the  summer  of  1995  Docherty  wanted  to  pay  him  off  but  the  Board  refused  to  let the  deal  go  through. Paul  himself  put  a  spin  on  it  that  he  had  declined  because  he  wanted  to  stay  and  prove  the  fans  wrong. He  made  a  reasonable  start  in  flicking  the  ball  on  for  Dave  Tompson's  equaliser  in  the  first game  at  home  to  Cardiff   but  his  cause was  utterly  lost  in  the  second  leg  of  a  League  Cup  tie  at  York  when,  under  no  pressure,  he  headed  over  from  less  than  a  yard  out  and  cost  us  a  game  at  Old  Trafford. To  make  matters  worse  he  had  a  dressing  room  spat  with  the  inoffensive  Jason  Peake  over  it. After that  his  Dale  career  consisted  of  sporadic  sunstitute  appearances. His  last  useful  contribution  was  a  flick  on  for  Mark  Stuart's  winner  at  Lincoln  though  he  still  created  mini-dramas  like  knocking  himself  out  away  at  Fulham  and  getting  booked  within  a minute  of  coming  on  at  Exeter. Towards  the  end  of  the  season  he  was  loaned  out  to  Doncaster  for  a  month  announcing  himself  with  a  spectacular volleyed  goal  again  and  thought  he  had  done  enough  to  get  a  contract  there  but  when  we  finally  released  him   in  May  1996  he  had  to  settle  for  Altrincham.

He  played  just  7  games  for  them  without  scoring  then  retired  to   run  a  sandwich  shop  with  his  wife. He  made  the  news  a  couple  of  years  later  when  he  injured  himself  falling  off  a  horse.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

204 Neil Matthews

Position : Centre  half  (also  played  at  left  back)

Played :  1993-94  to  1994-95

Appearances :  19

Goals : 0

Neil  was  signed  in  the  summer  on  a  free  from  Cardiff   but  didn't  make  his  debut  until  October  due  to  a  pre-season  injury. He  started  out  at  Blackpool  where  he  won  Under-21  caps  for  Northern  Ireland  and  played  in  a  variety  of  positions  but  predominantly  right  back.  After  76  appearances  over  5  seasons  he  went  to  Cardiff  in  search  of  more  first  team  football. He  was  a  regular  in  his  first  season  there  but  probably  suffered  for  his  versatility. In  1992-93 he  went  on  loan  to  Songdal  in  Norway  but  still  made  enough  appearances  to  get   Third  Division  Championship  and  Welsh  Cup  winner's  medals.

He  made  6  appearances  in  1992-93  all  as  cover  for  Jimmy  Graham  at  left  back  and  did  well  but  couldn't  manage  to  stay  fit  enough  to  really  compete  for  the  position; my  mate  christened  him  "Mr  Bump" .He  got  off  to  a  good  start  the  following  season  standing  in  for  Paul  Butler  at  centre  half . In  the  opening  game  at  Bury  he  made  a  superb  last  ditch  tackle  and  the  referee  admirably  booked  the  forward  for  diving. Butler  reclaimed  his  place after  two  games  but  Neil  came  back  into  the  side  when  Alan  Reeves  was  sold. Unfortunately  in  the  second  post-Reevesie  game   away  at  Barnet,  Neil  was  absolutely  murdered  by  Dougie  Freedman  as  we  were  hammered  6-2  and  after  that  his  days  were  numbered  as  Sutton  went  on  a  protracted  hunt  for  a  new  centre  half  eventually  signing  Peter  Valentine. Neil  kept  his  place  for  a  couple  of  games  in  a  5-man  defence  but  as  soon  as  Mick  Docherty  took  over  he  was  dropped. Neil  had  a  move  to  Bulova  in  Hong  Kong  arranged  but  agreed  to  stay  at  Dale  while  we  were  still  in  the  Autoglass  Trophy  as  Valentine  was  cup-tied. He  played  his  part  in  our  run  to  the  Northern  Final  against  Carlisle  (ironically  the  team  for  whom  Valentine  had  appeared)  then  left  amicably. During  that  period  he  also  got  a  Northern  Ireland  B  cap  against  Scotland  which  sort  of  made  him  our  first  international.

Neil  signed  up  for  Macclesfield  on  his  return  from  Hong  Kong  but  had  gone  by  the  time  they  came  into  the  league. He  was  last  heard  of  in  a  bizarre  and  bogus  story  in  the  Manchester  Evening  News  where  he  supposedly  saved  a  girl  from  being  mugged  for  her  winning  lottery  ticket   in  a  pub.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

203 Darren Oliver

Position :  Left  back (also  played  in  midfield)

Played :  1993-94  to  1994-95

Appearances :  28

Goals : 0

Darren  arrived  in  October  1993  as  a  £30,000  signing  from  Bolton. He  had  made  3  appearances  for  them  after  coming  through  the YTS  scheme.

Darren  must  be  in  the  running  for  the  biggest  waste  of  money  in  our  history. He  made  his  debut  away  at  Torquay  in  midfield  and,  after  doing  very  little,  was  on  the  bench  for  the  next  game. His  third  game  saw  him  dropping  back  to  cover  for  Jimmy  Graham  at  left  back  and  all  his  subsequent  games  were  in  that  position. He  was  just  about  adequate  though  teams  exploited  his  lack of  height. He  never  got  ahead  of  Jimmy  in  the  pecking  order  and  then  converted  winger  Kevin  Formby  was  preferred.  So  £30,000  for  an  understudy ?  When  challenged  on  this point  at  a  fans' forum  prior  to  1994-95  Sutton  muttered  that  he  had  personal  problems  and  we  hadn't  seen  the  best  of  him.  The  following  season  didn't  see  any  improvement  and  Docherty  discarded  him  at  the  first  opportunity.

He  moved  to  Altrincham  and  never  returned  to  League  fotball.

Friday, 26 November 2010

202 Dave Lancaster

Position : Forward

Played : 1993-94 ; 1995-6  to  1996-97

Appearances : (first  spell) 40 ; (second  spell) 20

Goals : (first  spell)  14 ; (second  spell)  2

Dave  was  a  £7,500  summer  signing  from  Chesterfield. Dave  was  a  latecomer  to  professional  football  having  been  rescued  from  the  wreckage  of  Colne  Dynamoes  by  Blackpool  in  the  summer  of  1990  when  he  was  almost  29. He  didn't  last  long there  (his  second  game  was  against  us  and  he  looked  better  suited  to  giving  kiddies  rides  on  the  beach)  playing  8 games  and  scoring  just  once. He  spent  the  last  3  months  of  the  season on  loan  at  Chesterfield  where  he  did  rather  better scoring  4  goals  in  12 appearances. That  prompted  them  to  sign  him  permanently  for  £70,000  and  he  scored  16  goals  in  69  appearances  for  them. The highlight  of  his  career  came  in  his  second  season  there  when  he  scored  twice  at  Anfield  in  a  4-4  draw  in  a  League  Cup  tie  in  1992. Dave's  subsequent  comment, "We  thought  there'd  be  eight goals  in  it - but  we  didn't  think  we'd  get  four  of  them "  is  still  widely  remembered.  The  returning  manager  John  Duncan  didn't  rate  him  and  after  bizarrely  trying  him  out  as  a  centre  half  sold  him  to  us  for  peanuts.

Remembering  the  Blackpool  game  I  thought  he  was  a  bad  signing  but  he  was  much  better  than  expected. At  6'3  he  was  always  going  to  be  good  in  the  air  but  despite  a  sometimes  wayward  first  touch  he  was  much  more  skilful  on  the  ground  than  I  anticipated  and  a  bit  faster  too. Dave  finished  the  season  as  joint  leading  scorer  with  Steve  Whitehall  and  scored  a  hat  trick  on  New  Years  Day  in  a  6-2  thumping  of  Northampton. However  after  scoring  twice  against  Torquay  at  the  end  of  January  Dave  didn't  score  again  until  the  final  game  and  the  perception  that  he  was  running  out  of  steam  led  Sutton  to  make  the  diastrous  signing  of  Paul  Williams. With  Williams  getting  a  2.5 year  deal , Dave  had  to  be  released   and  joined  Alex  Jones  and  Andy  Flounders  at  Halifax.

In  March  1995  Dave  made  a  surprise  return to  League  football  when  Bury  signed  him on  a  one  year  deal  and  he  scored  once  in  10  appearances , the  majority  of  them  as  sub.The  following March  Mick  Docherty  re-signed  him  for  us. It  was  a  bizarre  move; at  34  Dave  was  returning  to  replace  Williams  who  had  originally  been  signed  because  he  was  thought  to  be  past  it. Even  stranger, Dave  was  given  a  deal  which  ran  to  March  1997  even  though  Williams's  contract  finally  ran  out  in  the  summer. Dave  gave  it  a  go  in  his  first  handful  of  games  back  but  soon  looked  well  off  the  pace and  was  dropped  to  the  bench. When  we  played  Chester  away  he  was  warming  up  when  their  centre  half  Peter  Jackson  was  sent  off  in  an  incident  provoked  by  Jamie  Taylor. Chester  boss  Kevin  Ratcliffe  totally  lost  it  and  tried  to  attack  Docherty, Dave  pulled  him  away  and  was  then  arrested  by  a  policeman  who  completely  misread  the  situation and  hauled  him  down  the  tunnel.

The  incoming  Graham  Barrow  didn't  want  him  but  used  him  as  a  sub  in  the  early  part  of  1996-7  and  started  him  in  a  League  Cup  tie  at  Barnsley. Once  Robbie  Painter  was  signed  he  was  completely  surplus  to  requirements  and  went  on  loan  to  Bamber  Bridge  from  December  until  his  contract  expired  in  March. Dave  then  signed  for  them. He  still  lives  in  that  area  and  apparently  still  plays  5-a-side.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

201 Mark Stuart

Position :  Winger

Played : 1993-94  to  1998-99

Appearances : 202

Goals : 41

One  of  my  favourite  players  ( and  I'm  not  just  saying  that  because  he  usually  sits  not  far  from  me  in  the  WMG  Stand )  Mark  was  signed  on  a  free  from  Huddersfield   in  the  summer  of  1993. He  started  out   at  Chesterfield  and  became  a  regular in  the  season  they  won  promotion  to  the  First  Division  in  1986. The  following  season  he  scored  ( probably  too  soon  for  his  own  good ) the  most  significant  goal  of  his  career , one  whose  repercussions  still  affect  football  to  this  day. It  was  the  only  goal  in  Charlton's  defeat  of  Man  U.  at  Old  Trafford, a  result which  nailed  the  lid  down  on  Ron  Atkinson  and  brought  a  certain  Scottish  wanker  into  the  English  game. Mark  was  a  regular  for  two  seasons  in  the  First  Division  but eventually  fell  out  of  favour  and  went  to  Plymouth  for  £150,000  in  November  1988   having  scored  28  goals  in  107  appearances. Mark  spent  2  years  at  Home  Park  scoring  11  in  57  appearances  but  again  fell  out  of  favour  and  was  loaned  to  Ipswich  at  the  end  of  the  1989-90  season. Despite  scoring  twice  in  5  games  for  the  Tractor  Boys  he  moved  north  to  Bradford  for  £80,000  in  the  summer. Mark  settled  in  Bingley  but  never  managed  to  establish  himself  as  a  regular  in  the  side  scoring  5 in  29  appearances. After  failing  to  feature  in  the  opening  months  of  1992-93  he  moved  to  Huddersfield  in  November  1992  on  a  free  and  made  15  appearances  for  them  scoring  3  goals.

Mark  made  an  immediate  difference  to  the  side  with  his  tricky  wing  play  on  the  left  and  eye  for  a  goal  which  was  then  celebrated  in  some  style. He  was  also  one  of  our  best  free kick  experts. He  was  one  of  the  few  genuinely  two-footed  players  we've  had  which  made  him  an  unpredictable  and  dangerous  opponent. He  was  also  a  joker  and  led  the  banter  in  the  dressing  room. Of  course  there  was  a  downside  or  he  wouldn't  have  been  playing  at  Rochdale. He  didn't  like  tracking  back  and  could  be  lazy, letting  the  fullback  do  all  the  running   for  him. He  also  had  a  reputation  for  not  liking  "Jack"  i.e. going  missing  in  the  winter. That  certainly  happened  in  his  first  season  but  he  had  a  storming  finish  wth  three  goals  in  the  last  4  games  including  a  priceless  winner  at  Gigg  Lane  (I've  rarely  experienced  such  a  feeling  of  wellbeing as  I  had  on  leaving  that  game ) to  take  us  to  the  brink  of  the  play-offs.

Unfortunately  Mark  had  a  nightmare  of  a  season  in  1994-5  scoring  only  twice  in  31  games  and  finishing  on  a  really  sour  note  when  he  swore  at  one  of  the  EGP   lads  during  a  4-0  hammering  at  Darlington. He  started  the  following  season  on  loan  at  Chesterfield  but  they  didn't  think  him  worth  a  game  and  he  returned  after a  month. That  seemed  to  give  him  the  necessary  kick  up  the  arse  and  he  scored  the  winner  in  his  first  game  back  after  coming  on  as  sub  away  at   Lincoln. From  there  he  inspired  us  to  a  purple  patch  in  autumn  1996  with  great  victories  at  Scunthorpe (where  his  goal  celebration  seemed  to  suggest  he'd  had  electro-shock  treatment )  and  Barnet  where  he  scored  twice. Unfortunately  for  everyone,  he  broke  his  jaw  against  Rotherham  in  the  FA  Cup  in  November  and  by  the  time  he  returned  in  the  new  year  we  were  slipping  badly. Mark's  return  helped  stabilise  the  situation  especially  after  scoring  the  winner  in  an  unexpected  victory  at  Preston.

Mark duly  got  another  contract  and  was  one  of  the  few  "survivors"  actually  rated  by  the  incoming  Grham  Barrow. He  scored  7  in  31  appearances in  1986-7 including , characteristically,  4  in  the  last  3  games  as  Dale  put  in  a  strong  finish. The  following  season  things  started  to  sour  for  Mark  as  he  was  unbelievably   dropped  to  the  bench  in  favour  of  the  right-footed  midfielder (if  he  was  anything)   Mark  Bailey  (a  decision  that  convinced  many  that  Graham  Barrow  didn't  know  what  he  was  doing)  after  a  training  ground  row  with  Barrow's  hatchet-faced  number  2  Joe  Hinnigan. Although  Mark  invariably  came  on  and  indeed  played  in   45  games  that  season, the  damage  was  done  and  he  only  scored  4  goals.

By  the  following  season  Mark's  hair  had  turned  grey  despite  being  only  31  and  in  his  play  he  was also  beginning  to  look  long  in  the  tooth. He  played 19  games without scoring,  leaving  him  tantalisingly  on  99  senior  goals  in  his  professional  career. His  last  appearance  was  in  a  3-0  defeat  at  Leyton  Orient  ( sadly  I  was  absent  due  to  mortgage-induced  penury )  in  March  1999  after  which  he  was  loaned  out  to  Southport. At  the  end  of  the  season  Mark  had  the  option  to  sign  on  for  another  season  but  opted  to  remain  with  Southport  instead  which  was  probably  the  right  decision; it's  hard  to  imagine  him  thriving  under  Steve  Parkin.

Mark  had  two  good  seasons  at  Southport  scoring  12  goals  including  a  televised  free  kick  against  Havant  in  the  FA  Cup  in  2000  before  signing  for  Stalybridge  Celtic  in  2001. His  final  club  was  his  local  team,  Guiseley  FC. He  currently  works  as  a  gym  instructor  in  the prison  service and  attends  most  matches at  Spotland..

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

200 Martin Hodge

Position :  Goalkeeper

Played :  1993-94

Appearances : 42

Goals : 0

So  we're  onto  our  200th  player  and  into  the  1993-94  season,  a  memorable  one  for  a  number  of  reasons. Firstly  we  came  tantalisingly  close  to  the  play-offs  again  being  in  7th  place  on  the  penultimate  Saturday. Secondly,  it  was the  first  of  my  pair  of  100%  seasons  (incl  pre-season  friendlies)  though  I  needed  that  second  postponement  of  the  Wycombe  game  to  accomplish  it. Thirdly  it  included  the  most  remarkable  Dale  performance  I've  ever  seen - the  first  half  demolition  of  Chesterfield  in  October  - at  least  until  the  current  regime  got  going. And  lastly  it  formed  a  backdrop  to  an  unusually  eventful  year  for  me  and  so  I've  already  written  about  it  in  a  yet -to-be  finished  book.

Martin  was  signed  on  a  free  from  Hartlepool  to  replace  Kevin  Rose. At  34  Martin was  vastly  experienced  having  started  out  at  Plymouth  in  1978  where  he  once  had   to  wear  his  shirt  inside  out  because  ITV  couldn't  show  its  sponsored  front, Brian  Moore  sending  a  runner  down  to  the  pitch  to  tell  him. He  was  signed  by  Everton  for £135,000  and  had  a  decent  run  in  the  side  in  1979-80  but  was  elbowed  out  by  Neville  Southall  and  went  out  on  loan  to  Oldham, Gillingham  and  two  lengthy  spells  at   Preston. In  1983  he  signed  for  Sheffield  Wednesday  and  had  5  excellent  seasons  there  playing  a  club-record  214  consecutive  games  and  almost  going  to Mexico  with  England  in  1986.  A  less  welcome  event  that  year  was  conceding  a  goal  to  his  opposite  number  Steve  Ogrizovic  of  Coventry  direct  from  a  goal  kick. In  1988  he  moved  to  Leicester  for  £250,000  and  made  80   appearances  (including  another  ever-present  season)  before  joining  Hartlepool  in  1991. He  played 69  games  for  them  before  joining  us.

Martin  was  technically  ever-present for  us  although  he  missed  most  of  the  first  half  in  his  first  game  at  Darlington  due  to  concussion,  coming  back  on  after  half  time  following  a  decidedly  creaky  stint  by  Steve  Whitehall. It's  fair  to  say  Martin  was  carrying  a  bit  of  timber  by  this  time  and  actually  got  reported  to  the  police  by  some  nutty  old  woman  at  York  for  flashing  his  gut  following  taunts  from  the  home  end. Martin  seemed  to  cultivate  an  image  as  the  Grumpy  Old  Man  of  the  side  whether  it  was  bollocking  Mark  Stuart  for  interrupting  his  warm-up  routine  at  Scarborough  or  telling  the  EGP  lads  that  they  were  over-rating  Alan  Reeves. The  classic  Hodgey  moment  was  at  Burnley in  the  FA  Cup  when  it  all  kicked  off  following  Alex  Jones's  revenge  tackle  on  John  Francis. At  one  point  every  player  on  the pitch  seemed  to  be involved  in  the melee - except one. Martin  was  lying  down  in  his  six-yard  box  Cleopatra-style  to  express  his   complete  disdain  for  such  shenanigans. For  all  this  he  was  still  a  pretty  good  keeper  and  only  had  one  poor  game  at  Chester  where  he  allowed  their  bruising  forward, a  certain  Graham  Barrow, to  intimidate him.

Characteristically  Martin  arranged  his  next  move  himself  by  buying  a  house  in  Plymouth in  the summer of  1994  and  presenting  the  management  with  a  fait  accompli. Sutton  reluctantly  accepted the  situation  and  let  him  sign  for  Plymouth  for  £10,000. Given  subsequent  developments  this  can  be  seen  as  a  pivotal  moment  in  our  recent  history,  sparking  a  chain  of  events  which  consigned  us  to  the  lower  half  of  the table  for  the rest  of  the  decade.

Martin  was  signed  as  cover  and  to  coach  the  youth  team  but  played  another 17  games  for Plymouth  before  retiring  in  1996. He returned  to  Sheffield  Wednesday  (and  presumably  the  North  of  England)  as  goalkeeping  coach  for  8  years  and  has  performed  that  role  for  a  number  of  other  clubs since  including,  briefly, us  under  Steve  Parkin,   despite  the  manner  of  his  original  departure. He  currently  scouts  for  Watford.

199 Noel Luke

Noel  is  the  guy  in  the  leather  jacket

Position : Winger

Played : 1992-93

Appearances : 3

Goals : 0

With  the season as  good  as  over, our only transfer activity on deadline day 1993 was to offer a trial to this lower division stalwart who had been abruptly discarded by First Division Peterborough despite featuring regularly for them right up to the previous Saturday’s game. Noel’s career began in the old First Division making 9 appearances for West Brom before moving on to Mansfield in 1985. He played 50 games for them and scored 9 goals including a memorable one against us in the fog-bound game at Field Mill in 1985-6 when he suddenly appeared out of the murk with the ball at his feet and slotted it home. He moved to Peterborough in 1987 and became their fourth-highest appearance maker with 277 League games up to his sudden departure.

Noel, still  only  28 , made his debut for us at  home  to Colchester but looked very sluggish and was taken  off after only half an hour (we scored almost before his arse touched the bench). He  wasn't  even  on  the  bench  for  the  next  game  but  returned  for  his  only  full  game , a  dismal  1-0  home  defeat  to  Barnet. After  one  more  substitute  appearance  in  a  5-1  hammering  at  Scunthorpe  he  was  sent  on  his  way.

Noel  went to  Boston  and  also  played  for  King's  Lynn  before  hanging  up  his  boots. He  now  works  in  the  licensing  trade  and  was  landlord  of  The  Posh  near  Peterborough's  ground  for  a  while.

198 Don Page

Position : Forward

Played : 1992-93  (on  loan  from  Rotherham)

Appearances : 4

Goals : 1
Don was brought in on loan from Rotherham in February to pep up the attack. He made his name in the 80s as a consistent goalscorer at Conference level with Altrincham, Northwich and Runcorn before Wigan gave him a chance in League football at the age of 25 in 1989. It’s safe to say that Don found scoring more difficult as a professional. In 1990-91 he failed to score at all in 25 appearances. The following season he got 13 (the only time he reached double figures as a pro’) and this got him the move to Rotherham where he scored 13 in 55 appearances.

Don got off to a good start by scoring on his debut at Scarborough though he looked to fall between two stools, not big enough to be a good target man but not mobile enough to be anything else. We then lost the next three games in which he played (the last a humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to bottom club Northampton where Don came on as sub) which killed our season off. It would be unfair to pin the blame on Don (the injuries to Andy Milner and Steve Mulrain and the sudden evaporation of Mark Payne’s form were big factors) but his lacklustre displays didn’t help and his loan period wasn’t extended.

Don returned briefly to Rotherham but signed for Doncaster in November 1993 scoring 4 in 22 appearances. They freed him in the summer of 1994 and he went to Chester scoring 5 in 30 appearances. Released again at the end of the season he went to Scarborough for a year scoring 5 in 37 games. He then dropped back into non-league,  featuring for Matlock, Telford and Blyth Spartans. He now works in the Finance Department at Warwickshire County Council.

Monday, 22 November 2010

197 Trevor Snowdon

Position : Midfield

Played : 1992-93

Appearances :  14

Goals : 0

For  Dale  fans  of  a  certain  age  no  name  takes  you  back  to  the  days  of  Dave  Sutton  and  his  loudmouth  bullshitting  quite  like  poor  Trevor's. At  the  fan's  forum  back  in  the  summer,  Sutton  had  been  boasting  of  how  he  was  tracking  this  young  lad  in  the  Northeast  who  was  going  to  be  the  new  Gazza. He  finally  arrived  in  February , a  £3,000  signing  from  Seaham  Red  Star.

He  made  his  debut  as  a  late  sub  at  home  to  Shrewsbury. On  the  back  of  this  uneventful  5  minute  appearance   a  ludicrous  rumour  arose  probably  planted  by  Sutton  and  printed  in  all  seriousness  by  the  Rochdale  Observer  that  Ron  Atkinson  had  bid  £150,000  to  take  him  to  Villa. Faced  with  all  this  nonsense  Trevor  couldn't  fail  to  disappoint. There  was  a  slight  physical  resemblance  to  Gazza  in  his  chunky  build  but  he  was  entirely  one-footed  and  short  of  pace. He  had  one  good  game  away  at  Lincoln  where  he  set  up  both  Jon  Bowden's  goals. In  the  following  game  at  home  to promotion-chasing  York  where  their  fans  had  been  given  the  Wilbutts  Lane  stand  as  extra  provision  he  provided  a  magical  moment. Trying  to  wriggle  clear  of  his  marker  on  that  side  he  tried  a  clever  stepover  and  beat  himself,  falling  on  his  arse  to  a  massive  cheer  from  the  York  supporters. He  was  subbed  after  53  minutes. In  his  second  season  he  made  just  one  brief  appearance  as  a  sub  and  then  slipped  quietly  away  to  Northwich  Victoria. 

196 Tim Clarke

Position : Goalkeeper

Played : 1992-93  (on  loan  from  Huddersfield)

Appearances : 2

Goals : 0

Tim , a  6' 3  giant , was  brought  in  on  loan  from  Huddersfield  in  February  93 to  cover  an  injury  to  Kevin  Rose. From  Town's  point  of  view  it  was  a  penance , an  horrendous  howler  at  home  to  Chester  in  December  having  proved  one  error  too  many  for  manager  Eoin Hand. Tim  began  his  career  at  Halesowen  before  Coventry  paid  £25,000  for  him  in  1990. He  didn't  make  a  League  appearance  for  them  and  went  to  Huddersfield  for  £15,000  9 months  later. He  was  first  choice  keeper  up  to  the  Chester  game  but  had  acquired  the  nickname  "Coco"  for  his  mistakes.

Tim  didn't  do  anything  wrong  for  us,  conceding  just  one  goal  in  his  two  games  from  which  we  collected  four  points. Given  the  traumas  we  were  to  suffer  with  on  loan  keepers  in  the  future  this  was  under-appreciated  at  the  time.

Hand  was  sacked  almost  as  soon  as  Tim  returned  to  Leeds  Road  and  he  finished  the  season  back  in  the  first  team. However  he  was  freed  in May  and  signed  for  Shrewsbury, making  31  appearances  for  them over  3  seasons. He  signed  for York  in  September 1996  but  finished  the  season  on  loan  to  Scunthorpe  for  whom  he  signed  permanently  in  the summer. Tim  played  73  games  for  the  Irons  before  going  on  loan  to  Kidderminster  in  1999. He  was  part  of  their  Conference-winning  side  in  2000  and  their  regular  keeper  in  their  first  League  season  before  returning  to  Halesowen  in  2001. He  later  played  for  Evesham  Town  and  Bromsgrove  Rovers  before  taking  up  a  coaching  position  at  Wivenhall  Town.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

195 Steve Mulrain

Position :  Midfield

Played : 1992-93

Appearances : 8

Goals : 2

Steve was a former trainee at Leeds who turned up for a trial in December 1992 . He came on away at Barnet and, playing upfront, missed an absolute sitter. You assumed that would be the end of him but a few weeks later he was re-introduced to the side as a midfielder. He looked much better in that role, he could tackle, pass the ball and get forward to score. There was hope he would replace Steve Doyle in the side but that came to nothing when he broke his leg. He recovered enough to make the odd substitute appearance (thankfully not in the game where he was named as the substitute goalkeeper) the following season but wasn’t the same player. He was released in the summer and after a brief spell at Farsley Celtic gave up the game and became “a nightclub promoter”.

In 1997 he was back in the news with a kiss and tell story about his (probably not exclusive) relationship with the pre-fame Slapper Spice, Mel B. It’s not known if she ever came to Spotland. In 2002 he was jailed for 9 months after attacking someone with a machete in a street brawl.

Steve is also notable for being the only black player employed by the club between the departures of Dean Walling and Steve Johnson in 1990 and the arrival of Dean Stokes in 1998.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

194 Tony Beever

Position : Forward

Played : 1992-93

Appearances : 1

Goals : 0

Tony  was  a  YTS  lad. I  only  remember  him  from  the  pre-season  games  in  the  summer  of  92 , a  curly-haired  lad   with  something  of  a  swagger  waving  to  the  girls  in  the  crowd. Unfortunately  we  never  got  to  see  whether  or  not   he  could  do  it  on  the  pitch  as  his  career  consisted  of  10  long-forgotten  minutes  as  a  sub  for  Steve  Whitehall  at  home  to  Doncaster  in  November  1992. Then  obscurity  came  calling.

193 Andy Howard

Position : Winger

Played : 1992-93  to  1993-94

Appearances : 20

Goals : 3

Here’s a good quiz question. Which former Dale player made his League debut twice ? The answer is Andy who was signed on a free from Blackpool after his one League appearance for them was struck out because it was against Aldershot before they folded in March 1992.

Andy was a small winger who was used mainly as a substitute during his Dale career. He was a bit unfortunate in getting injured after an hour in one of the rare games he started, away to Barnet in December 1992 , as he was our best player that day and it could have been the springboard for a decent run in the side. As it was he showed the occasional flash of skill but never really looked like making himself essential.

I have a memorable anecdote concerning Andy. It’s probably a “you had to have been there “ moment but here goes. In October 1993 we had a Tuesday night home game (may have been against Mansfield) and Andy came on and scored a good volleyed equaliser. The following Saturday we played Crewe away , and as was usual then, I went early with 2 mates and settled in a pub called The Badger in Church Minshull. We ordered drinks and food at the bar then noticed a TV in the corner. At the time Kick Off was still on Granada on a Saturday lunchtime so we asked for it to be turned on. There were other people around having lunch but we were the only ones watching it. Near the end of the programme Elton Welsby announced that the winner of Goal Of The Week was “Andy Howard of Rochdale” . Wanting to announce our presence to the foodies around, I jumped up with an exaggerated cheer and shouted “Yes we’ve got it !” - at the exact moment that the girl arrived with our food so it looked like I was celebrating that. The girl’s glare was priceless and my mates were on the floor with laughter.

That goal was Andy’s last real contribution to our fortunes and he rarely made even the bench in the second half of the 1993-94 season. He was released in May 1994 and joined Fleetwood Town.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

192 Jack Ashurst

Position :  Centre  half

Played : 1992-93

Appearances : 1

Goals : 0

Jack was an old team-mate of assistant-manager Mick Docherty at Sunderland brought in after being released by Doncaster to cover an injury to Paul Butler. He started out with Sunderland in the 70s spending 8 seasons there without really establishing himself in the side. In 1979 he was bought by Blackpool for a club record £132,400. Eighteen months later he was sold on to Carlisle for £40,000. Jack was very popular at Brunton Park, an automatic first team choice making 194 appearances and inspiring the fanzine So , Jack Ashurst Where’s My Shirt (No, I don’t know what that’s about) . In 1986 Billy Bremner took him to Leeds and made him captain despite him being 32 at the time. He made 89 appearances before Howard Wilkinson let him go to Doncaster two years later where he soon came under Bremner again. He was released in 1990 and went to Bridlington Town but Rovers soon called him back again and he played another two seasons for them.

Jack first appeared in a pre-season game at Southport where, in the absence of a tannoy man, he was identified by my sharp-eyed friend Mr Wilbraham. He played in the one league game away at Wrexham, where our late scrambled consolation goal was initially credited to him but later re-assigned to Steve Whitehall, and in a League Cup tie against Crewe. He didn’t let us down but at nearly 38 he was hardly one for the future. When Alex Jones was re-signed he went on his way to Frickley Athletic.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

191 Andy Thackeray

Position :  Right  back  (also  played  in  midfield)

Played :  1992-93  to  1996-97

Appearances :  162

Goals : 13

We now move into the 1992-93 season which won’t detain us too long as most of the previous squad were retained and two of the additions , Shaun Reid and Alex Jones, were returnees who’ve already been discussed. It was a disappointing season where we slipped back to finish 12th , due, I think, to the curtailment of Andy Milner’s season and Andy Flounders’s off-field travails. I’d now been going for 10 years but changes were afoot. We were now in the re-branded Division Three after the establishment of that exercise in utter selfishness, the Premier League. Closer to home, the creation of the stadium company meant the closure of the old volunteer-run snack bar , replaced by a concession selling a much inferior product. Further post-Hillsborough restrictions also meant you could no longer walk between the Sandy Lane and the Wilbutts when the teams changed ends. It all made for a less friendly environment and when the season opened with news of Vinny Chapman’s enforced retirement and a dismal home defeat against Halifax (who finished the season being relegated to the Conference) a gloom set in which rarely lifted as the team struggled for consistency.

The main summer signing was 24- year old Andy for £15,000 from Wrexham to replace Malcolm Brown at right back. Andy started out as a midfielder with Manchester City, being part of their FA Youth Cup winning side of 1986, but didn’t make their first team. He moved on to Huddersfield but only played two games before moving to Newport County on deadline day 1987 for £5,000. That proved a very bad move as first County were relegated from the Third Division and then became rooted at the foot of the Fourth struggling to pay their players. Andy was there right to the end of the season then Wrexham rescued him for £5,000. They converted him to right back and he was a regular for four seasons scoring 14 goals in 152 appearances.

Andy was a nice bloke who always seemed to be enjoying himself on the pitch and for his first couple of seasons was quite an asset. Having the insurance of Alan Reeves as the right-sided centre half behind him gave Andy a licence to get forward and score some great goals , often from outside the box. He developed a very welcome habit of scoring at Gigg Lane. When Reeves departed, Andy’s defensive deficiencies became more apparent , most notably a chronic , almost comical, inability to clear his lines. No matter how much time he had, he seemed compelled to wait until the winger had got in a position to block. Andy’s cause wasn’t helped when Mick Docherty made him captain which seemed more to do with his enthusiastic attitude to training than any real leadership qualities he possessed. This made him a bit of a target for the EGP fanzine particularly after his disastrous decision to kick against the wind in the first leg of the Autoglass Northern Final at Carlisle in 1995. To his credit Andy was able to shrug off the criticism and perform in his own steady fashion.

In 1996 Graham Barrow took over and Andy was one of around half a dozen players who were contracted for the new season but unfancied by the new manager. Barrow brought in a new right back in Andy Fensome and Andy had to make do with captaining the reserve side to the Central League Second Division title (the memory of the presentation ceremony which we bungled with staggering ineptitude still causes my toes to curl). When he did get first team opportunities it was back in midfield. Andy plugged away and got back in the first team for the last few games of the season which saw a strong finish. That wasn’t enough to win him another contract and he joined Halifax in the Conference.

Halifax won the Conference the following season and Andy came up with them playing at right back once again. After playing in most of their games in 1998-99 ,he signed for Nuneaton and played with them for 4 seasons. His superior fitness allowed him to keep going and he had two years at Ashton United where he was Assistant-Manager for a time then another two years at Mossley where he won Supporter’s Player Of The Year in 2006 at the age of 38 , helping them win the Northern Premier Division title. He finally retired in 2007 and is now a chiropodist in Huddersfield.

Monday, 15 November 2010

190 John Stiles

John  is  the  one  on  the  left.

Position :  Midfield

Played : 1991-92  (on  loan  from  Doncaster  Rovers )

Appearances : 4

Goals : 0

We  round  off  1991-92  with  an  instantly forgettable  loan  signing. John  was  the  son  of  United  legend  Nobby  Stiles  and  nephew  of  Johnny  Giles  beginning  his  career  under  the  latter  at  Shamrock  Rovers  and  then  his  dad  at  Vancouver  Whitecaps. He  then  signed  for  Leeds  and  became  a  first  team  regular  in  Billy  Bremner's  time. He  was  discarded  by  Howard  Wilkinson  and  rejoined  Bremner  at  Doncaster in  1989. Bremner  resigned  in  November  1991   and  John  found  himself  out  in  the  cold  again  hence  his  appearance  at  Spotland.

Despite  his  association  with  all  these  notorious  hard  men  John  was  actually  a  lightweight  who  made  little  impact  being  sub  or  subbed  in  all  his  games  for  us . Like  many  of  our  loan  signings  around  this  time  it  was  obvious  his  League  career  was  petering  out. He  moved  into  non-league  with  Gainsborough  Trinity.

He  now  makes  a  living  as  a  comedian  and  after-dinner  speaker.

189 Mark Leonard

Mark  is  fourth  from  the  left  in  the  centre  row

Position :  Forward  (also  played  in  midfield  and  at  centre  half)

Played:  1991-92 ;  1996-97  to  1998-99

Appearances :  (first  spell)  9 ; (second  spell)  80

Goals :  (first  spell)  1  ; (second  spell)  6

We reach  a  significant  milestone here as  we  come  to  the  first  player  in  this survey to have played alongside Gary Jones.

Mark was initially signed for around £20,000 from Bradford in March 1992 to fire us into the play-offs. He was originally picked up from Witton Albion by Everton in 1982 but never played for them, making his League debut for Tranmere in March 1983.He was then freed and picked up by Crewe. He scored 15 goals in 54 appearances but was allowed to join Stockport in February 1985. Despite a modest goal return of 23 in 73 games, he attracted a £40,000 offer from Bradford in September 1986 and spent nearly 6 years there scoring 29 goals in 157 appearances though in some of those games he played at the back.

My Stockport-supporting friend spoke very well of him as an aggressive centre forward although due to injuries, most of his games in his first spell were at centre half. His only goal was a bit messy where he headed it against the bar and it came down and bounced in off his shoulder. He didn’t look very impressive in the pre-season games in 1992 so it was a welcome surprise when Preston came in with a bid of £50,000 just before the season kicked off and their hand was duly bitten off.

Preston’s investment was rewarded with 1 goal in 22 games and Mark acquired the not-so-affectionate nickname “Leotard”. A year later he was offloaded to Chester for free and started his long association with Graham Barrow. He scored 8 in 32 games as Chester won promotion from our division in 1994. Mark quickly rejoined Barrow at Wigan later that year and scored 12 goals in 64 appearances for them ( I got the evil eye from a policeman for calling him a “ fat bastard” when we played them at Springfield Park ). He was one of Barrow’s first signings when the former came to Rochdale saying Mark was “one of the best professionals I’ve ever worked with”.

Mark was nearly 34 when he re-signed for us and his pace and energy levels were diminishing which made his other shortcomings more apparent. In his first season back he played at centre forward with Steve Whitehall pushed out wide (which earned him the instant enmity of Mr P). He brought some physical presence to the front line but didn’t score until January and ended the season with 4 (including a very impressive one in the penultimate game at Carlisle, probably his best game in a Dale shirt) in 37 appearances.

He should have been discarded at the end of the season but instead he was put into midfield as a replacement for the departed John Deary. Given how poor his distribution was this was lethal. He gave the ball away for the only goal in a 0-1 defeat at home to Torquay on 29.11.97. I remember that well despite not being at the game as I was at my own wedding reception at the time. However my best man and ushers rushed back to see the game after the ceremony and returned for the evening do bearing tales of the full horror. Understandably my wife’s reaction was “serves them right”. Another moment of magic I recall was at Mansfied in January 1998 where Mark rolled his marker and only had to slip the ball five yards into the run of Ian Bryson who was completely unmarked. This simple pass was beyond him and he toepoked the ball into touch to howls of abuse from the Dale faithful. It was around this time that it was beginning to dawn on most of the support that Barrow wasn’t the man to bring home the bacon and his perseverance with this increasingly inept player was just one aggravating factor. I remember Mark giving an interview to the M.E.N. where he said he thought he was getting stick because of his past association with the manager; er no, it was down to your own uselessness, you deluded wanker. He still got the odd game up front ,each one more embarrassing than the last. Fortunately he picked up a knee injury and didn’t play after March; our improved form   in  the  last  few  games  might not have been a coincidence.

Unbelievably he was kept on for 1998-99 on month-by-month terms which he allegedly accepted with good grace stomping down the corridor shouting “I thought I had mates !” We had to endure another 9 appearances (including a truly woeful game upfront away at Wigan in the League Cup) by which time he was little better than a pub player before the knee injury ended his career. After his final appearance as a sub at Rotherham in October 1998 he hung around like a malignant ghost for a while; I remember him sitting in Studd’s with a little huddle of Barrow groupies before a game glaring at anyone who came in trying to work out if they’d been one of those giving him stick.

It’s also worth pointing out that this supposed model professional twice got sent off for fighting when we were already a man down (both times it was a certain Keith Hill who got the other red card).

After retiring, Mark took up crown green bowling  and won the Merseyside Merit tournament in 2001.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

188 Carl Parker

Position : Midfield  (also  played  in  defence)

Played : 1991-92  to  1992-93

Appearances : 16

Goals : 1

Carl  was  a  21-year  old  signed  from  Rossendale  United  and  given  a  daunting  debut  away  to  Gillingham  in  March  1992. He  held  his  own  and  shortly  afterwards  scored  an  excellent  goal  at  home  to  Wrexham  where  he  ran  on  to  a  dropping  ball  and  lifted  it  over  the  keeper  with  one  touch. Carl  took  no  prisoners  in  the  tackle , most  notably  at  Barnet  where  he  followed  John  Halpin's  instruction  to  take  out  Paul  Showler  rather  robustly. He  was  kept  on  for  the  following  season  when  he  was  used  as  a  hole filler  flitting  between  midfield  and  defence  and  not  really  impressing  in  either  role.

In  1993  he  moved  on  to  Morecambe  but  was  soon  back  at  his  former  level  in  East  Lancashire  playing  for  the  likes  of  Haslingden  and  Padiham  (for  whom  he was  still  playing  as  recently  as  2004),

Saturday, 13 November 2010

187 Barry Cowdrill

Position :  Left  back

Played : 1991-92

Appearances : 15

Goals : 1

Barry  was  signed  from  Bolton  on  a  short-term  contract  to  cover  an  injury  to  Jimmy  Graham. The  35 - year  old  was  originally  signed  from  Sutton  Coldfield  Town  by  West  Brom  in  1980  and  spent  the  next  6  seasons  as  Derek  Statham's  understudy  only  really  establishing  himself  in  the  first  team  when  Statham  moved  to  Southampton. In  1988  he  signed  for  Bolton  and  was  a  regular  for  three seasons  and  a  fans' favourite.

Barry  looked  like  a  refugee  from  the  70s  with  his  curly  perm  and  'tache   and  had  a  shaky  debut  in  a  3-0  defeat  at  Blackpool. After  that  he  looked  much  more  assured , composed  at  the  back  and  a  threat  down  the  left  flank. He  was  probably  our  best  player  at  the  tail  end  of  the  season. His  goal  was  a  fantastic  volley  from  outside  the  box  away  at  Northampton.

At  the end  of  the  season  he  re-signed  for  Sutton  Coldfield. He  was  last  heard  of  working  in  a  health  club  in  Bournemouth.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

186 Andy Kilner

Position : Winger

Played : 1991-92  (on  loan  from  Stockport)

Appearances : 3

Goals : 0

Andy was  the  latest  refugee  from  Stockport  to  arrive  at  Spotland  having  fallen  out  with  Bergara  after  a  sending-off. He  began  his  career  at  Burnley  following  appearances  for  England  Schoolboys  but  his  debut  was  delayed  by  injury. He  played  5  games  in  1986  then  was  released, becoming  a  nomad  between  Sweden  and  English  non-league  clubs  like  Hyde  and  Altrincham. In  1990-91  he  was  signed  by  Stockport  and  scored  11  goals  in  24  appearances  and  was  the  first  of  the  modern  day  long  throw  specialists. My  Stockport-supporting  colleague  reckoned  he  was  the  man  who  took  them  up  that  season. However  things  went  a  bit  sour  soon  into  the  following  season.

Andy  made  his  debut  for us  away  at  Halifax  in  Februrary  1992  and,  apart  from  one  good  run  in  the  second  half  of  that  game,   looked  sulky  and  disinterested. Without  a  big  centre  forward  to  aim  at,  his  throws  didn't  bring  us  any  joy  either.

He  returned  to  Stockport  and  became  so  disaffected  he  chose  to  play  cricket  in  Bolton  when  the  rest  of  the  squad  went  down  to  Wembley  for  the  play-off  final  in  May. The  following  season  he  went to  Bury   but  only  played  5  games  before  dropping  down  to  Witton  Albion  and  Chorley. In  1994  he went  to  Fredrikstad  in  Norway  where  he  scored  a  remarkable 15  goals  in  18  games  but  was  advised  to  give  up  playing. He made  a  few  appearances  for  Radcliffe  Borough  but  settled  into  the  role  of  their  commercial  manager.From  there  he  returned  to  Stockport  as  Football  In  The  Community  Officer  and  became  manager  in  1999  when  Gary  Megson  left.  He  did  quite  well  at  first  (Stockport  were  then  in  what  is  now  the  Championship) but  as  the  Board  started  selling  players  the  club  started  to  struggle  and  he  was  sacked  in  2001  with  County  in  the  relegation  zone (Carlton  Palmer  finished  them  off).  Since  then  he  has  been  working  as  a  football  agent  and  apparently  does  some  after  dinner  speaking  though  who  outside  Stockport  would  book  him  I  don't  know. A  friend  of  mine  reckons he's  the  funniest  man  alive though  remembering   his  interviews  when  Stockport  boss  with  his  "who-are-you-looking-at" demeanour  I  find  that  hard  to  believe.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

185 Steve Kinsey

Position : Winger  (also  played  as  a  forward)

Played : 1991-92

Appearances : 6

Goals : 1

Steve  was  taken  on  trial  in  October  after  a  lengthy  stint  playing  in  America. He  started  out  as  a  junior  with  Manchester  City  making  his  League  debut  under  John  Bond. After  loan  spells  with  Chester  and  Chesterfield  he  became  a  first  team  regular  in  their  Second  Division  side. Injury  prevented  him  consolidating  his  place  back  in  the  First  Division  in  1985-6  although  he  scored  the  opening  goal  in  the  first  Full  Members  Cup  Final. At  the  end  of  the  season  he  decided  to  leave  England  and  play  indoor  football  initially  with  Minnesota  Strikers.

Now  28, Steve  was  initially  put  up  front  enabling  Sutton  to  drop  Steve  Whitehall  but  that  wasn't  really  his  position  and  instead  he  had  to  compete  with  Milner  and  Halpin  for  a  wing  spot. I  remember  him  coming  on  against  Gretna  and  doing  well  and  I  thought  he  was  worth  a  longer  look  but  perhaps  he  chose  to  go.

He moved  on  to  St  Mirren  for  6  games  and  then  Coleraine  but  decided  to  give  Wales  a  miss  and  returned  to  the  States. Apart  from  a  brief  spell  at  Molde  in  Norway  in  1993  he  stayed  there  for  the  rest  of  his  career,  retiring  in  1997. He  now  lives  in  Florida  where  he  runs  summer  soccer  schools  and  a  swimming  pool  cleaning  business.

Monday, 8 November 2010

184 Leigh Palin

Position : Midfield

Played : 1991-92  (on  loan  from  Hull  City)

Appearances : 3

Goals : 0

Leigh  was  signed  on  loan  from  Hull  City  in  October  1991. He  won  England  Youth  caps  as  a  youngster  with  Aston  Villa  but  never  made  the  first  team  making  his  League  debut  while  on  loan  to  Shrewsbury   in  1985. He  moved  on  to  Nottingham  Forest  but  Cloughie  cleared  him  out  again  quickly  and  he  went  to  Bradford. After  71  appearances  and  10  goals  he  went  to  Stoke  in  1989  but  had  to  leave  after  19  games  because  he  punched  the  manager  Alan  Ball. He  had  a  good  season  for  Hull  in  1990-91  but  fell  out  of  favour  the  following  year.

Sometimes  good  players  just  lose  interest  in  the  game  and  that's  what  it  looked  like  with  Leigh. He  was  only  26  and  obviously  a  good  footballer  but  didn't  produce  anything ; in  fairness  Sutton  didn't  give  him  too  many  chances.

At  the  end  of  the  season  he  was  released  by  Hull  and  went  on  trial  at  Burnley  but  made  just  one  appearance. He  then  had  a  five  game  outing  with  Partick  Thistle  before  returning  to  England  with  Halifax  who, even  in  their  relegation  season,  didn't  think  he  was  worth  a  game.  He  dropped  into  non-league  with  Tadcaster  Albion. He  is  currently  manager  of  and  still  sometimes  turns  out  for  Walkington  FC  who  are known  as  The  Barrel  and  judging  from  the  photo  above  so  is  he.