Tuesday, 1 March 2011

294 Simon Coleman

Position : Centre  half

Played : 2000-01  to  2001-02

Appearances : 16

Goals : 1

Arguably Parkin’s worst-ever signing , Simon arrived on a free transfer from Southend in the summer. There’s no doubt he had been a decent player. He came through the youth system at Mansfield and in 1989 was signed for £600,000 by Middlesbrough to replace Gary Pallister who’d just gone to United. That was a daunting prospect and Simon didn’t really fit the bill making 57 appearances over two seasons before a cut price £300,000 move to Derby in the new Division Two in August 1991. Simon helped them to promotion in his first season and 18 months later got his Premiership chance with Sheffield Wednesday in January 1994 for £350,000. He wasn’t a big success in Yorkshire and moved to Bolton for £250,000 just 9 months later after 17 appearances. He did well in his first season helping Bolton win promotion through the play-offs with 4 goals in 22 appearances. His return to the Premiership soon turned sour when his leg was broken in an alleged retaliatory challenge by Derby’s Marco Gabbiadini following an elbow, an incident that brought Bruce Rioch onto the pitch. When he came back later in the season Bolton went on a good run but it wasn’t enough to save them from the drop. New manager Sam Allardyce didn’t fancy him at all and his only League action over the next 18 months was a brief loan spell at Wolves in 1997 which is still remembered as disastrous. He moved to Southend on a free in February 1998 and played 100 games for them scoring 9 goals.

Even on paper Simon looked a questionable signing, a 32- year old released by a team that had finished below us ? He was “bigged up” by Parkin at the Fans’ Forum as a centre half who got goals and “can play a bit as well”. There was a widespread rumour that they were old schoolmates though it should be recorded that Parkin is four years older than Simon. Fortunately as it turned out Simon was also injury-prone and only made one appearance in the first half of the season. Then the form of Hilly, Monno and Bayliss kept him in the reserves. People who went to reserve games reported that he looked a bit suspect even there.

Then came the game that everyone remembers. We hit a mini-slump at the beginning of February with two goalless draws and a 1-0 defeat away at Torquay. Then Terry Dolan’s York came to Spotland on a Tuesday evening and came away with the 1-0 sneaked win that was his trademark. Parkin’s brilliant solution to what was a goalscoring problem was to bring Simon in for Hilly (despite the reserves shipping 5 three days earlier ) and switch to wing backs for the home game against Shrewsbury. The result was almost comical with no one knowing who was picking up who and Shrewsbury’s Luke Rodgers running rings round the creaky bald interloper at the back who couldn’t do anything right. After a 7-1 humiliation Parkin had lost his initial shine for good. You do wonder if Hilly’s noted aversion to signing journeymen old pro’s stems from that afternoon. Did Simon cost us the play-offs that season ? Well, we lost other games and arguably the defeat at Blackpool (in which he didn’t play) was more crucial but he certainly didn’t help.

Not surprisingly Simon was dropped for the next game but got one or two more outings notably at home to Cheltenham where he caused Neil Edwards to be injured with a short backpass.

At the end of the season there was more controversy when he stayed (due to his two year contract) and Hilly and Monno were released.

He actually started the next season in the side due to the injury to Richard Green and did OK-ish. He could hold his own against big centre forwards and got the winner in our opening game at Oxford when the ball bounced in off his knee from a corner. However no one really trusted him particularly after an own goal at Plymouth and he was soon dropped. After Dave Bayliss departed he was a regular on the bench because there was no one else and his last appearance was in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Rushden. John Hollins released him immediately afterwards.

Simon signed for Ilkeston Town. He now works for Garibaldi College in Clipstone but still likes to get his boots on and appear in “Legends” games for any of his former clubs (including us in 2006).

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