Tuesday, 11 January 2011
255 John Pender
Position : Centre half
Played : 1997-98 to 1998-99 (didn't appear in latter season)
Appearances : 15
Goals : 0
John's debut in November 1997 was the last I witnessed as a bachelor. He had been signed from Wigan for a tribunal-set £11,500 in the summer but injury prevented him from making his debut until the FA Cup First Round game at home to Wrexham on 15.11.97 four days short of his 34th birthday. There's no doubt he had been a good player. He began his career at Wolves where he made 117 appearances and won Irish Youth and Under-21 caps. When Wolves were relegated to the third tier he moved to Charlton for £35,000 and went in the other direction. However he only made 3 appearances in the top flight and moved to Bristol City for £50,000 in October 1987. He was a regular for two easons then lost his place and moved on to Burnley in October 1990. There he became captain and led them to two promotions but rarely featured thereafter. In August 1995 Barrow took him to Wigan for £30,000 for whom he'd made 66 appearances before coming to us.
Having considered the competing claims of Dave Mossman, Gareth Gray and Darren Oliver I've concluded that John was our worst buy ever. We won 5 of the games he played in so I suppose he must have had decent games but I don't remember them , just his lumbering, overweight presence in a defense that had been doing OK without him. We lost the first two games he played; he was absolutely abysmal in the defeat at Hartlepool and he always looked like an accident waiting to happen. And it did; his last act in a Dale shirt in February 1998 at Scunthorpe was tackling the turf instead of his man leaving them free to score and himself crumpled up on the pitch. Barrow was hoping that he would return the following season - no one else was - but he didn't and reportedly screwed us for every last penny under his contract despite the obvious lack of VFM on the pitch.
He now resides in Telford.