Monday, 10 January 2011
254 Neil Edwards
Position : Goalkeeper
Played : 1997-98 to 2004-05
Appearances : 239
Goals : 0
In contrast to the Lancashire signing, Neil's arrival from Stockport for £25,000 in November 1997 took place in record time. After the mauling at Chester on the Saturday Neil was in the nets to face Lincoln on the Tuesday. He began his career at Leeds but continued concern about his height at 5' 9 led to a £5,000 move to Stockport in September 1991 where he immediately became first choice keeper. He made 164 appearances over 5 seasons fighting off a brief challenge from Matt Dickins ( that must have been difficult ) for his place. New manager David Jones brought in Paul Jones in August 1996 and Neil was out in the cold , even more so when Ian Gray went there the following summer.
There was some disquiet at the time about the way Lance Key had been treated but that was quickly forgotten as Neil immediately produced some top class displays and proved to be a great bloke as well. He kept a clean sheet against the route one musclemen of Lincoln (I've a feeling his debut was the first I witnessed from my new seat in the WMG) then three games later put on an outstanding one man display at Hartlepool when the rest of the team didn't seem to have turned up and were rightly jeered off at full time except for the Welshman. Then he started saving penalties - it seemed like we could get away with anything in the box knowing he would save the spot kick.
In his first three seasons he was fantastic then he started picking up injuries and gradually his performances slipped down a notch and his place came under pressure from Matt Gilks. He only made 7 appearances in the 2001-02 season when we made the play-offs although he played in both legs of the semi-final against Rushden. He reclaimed his place at the start of the next season but picked up an injury in February 2003 that was still troubling him at the start of 2003-04. He came back in October and played to the end of the season. In 2004-05 he was still first choice up to October then lost his place to Gilks and never got it back.
That summer he decided to rejoin Graham Barrow at Bury on a Bosman. He played 24 games up to January 2006 then had to call it a day, sadly conceding 8 goals in his last 2 games. He now works as a goalkeeping coach at Bolton.