Sunday, 6 March 2011
300 Paul Connor
Position : Forward
Played : 2000-01 to 2003-04
Appearances : 95
Goals : 29
With Paul we enter the home strait, that is players who've been signed within the decade before the time of writing. Paul was (and still is) our record signing, from Stoke City in March 2001 for £150,000. He began his career at Middlesbrough but made his League debut on loan at Hartlepool in February after an earlier loan to Gateshead where he scored 2 on his debut. He didn't score in his 5 games for Hartlepool but got off the mark on loan at Stoke in the last game of the following season. Stoke signed him on a free in May 1999 . He scored 5 in 28 appearances (mainly as sub) in 1999-2000 but found first team opportunities limited the following year and went on loan to Cambridge in November 2000 scoring 5 in 13 appearances. He signed for us immediately afterwards.
Paul came when we were at a low ebb after an horrendous February and got off the mark in his second game with a scrappy goal in our draw at leaders Chesterfield. Thereafter he proved to be just what the doctor ordered, ending up our top scorer with 10 goals in 14 games including a hat trick in our 6-0 hammering of Carlisle. Incidentally, I met Carlisle's Mark Winstanley a few days later while collecting census returns and he was quick to remind me that he'd been on the bench. Ultimately it wasn't quite enough to take us into the play-offs but you couldn't blame Paul.
He was quick and skilful and particularly good at retreiving the ball from defenders who were trying to shepherd the ball over the by-line.
On the flip side of the coin our arrival in the play-offs the following season owed very little to him. He was dogged by a hamstring injury all season scoring just one goal , the winner at Plymouth in August and had to stop playing altogether in January. He managed to make a substitute appearance in the second leg of the play-off semi-final against Rushden but couldn't alter the outcome.
He was fit to start the next campaign and scored the winner in our opening game at home to Leyton Orient but he wasn't quite the same player and his form was patchy. Some of his pace had been lost and defenders found it easier to muscle him off the ball. He scored a great goal away at Swansea and was a key player in our FA Cup run scoring in the First and Second Round games then the opening goal in our victory over Coventry. He missed the Wolves game through injury but returned for the nervy run-in scoring 4 more goals in games which all ended in draws.
The following season it was much the same story apart from picking up an uncharacteristic red card at York. He scored his last goal for us in the win over Mansfield in February 2004. Then, with the clock ticking on his contract and mindful of the fact that our other six figure signing Clive Platt had left the club for nothing the previous summer , the Board/Parkin decided to accept Swansea's deadline day offfer of £35,000. It was a big risk given our perilous position at the time but Paul wasn't in good form and ultimately it worked out. It did however seem like the door was clanging shut on the post- Barrow optimistic era. Some supporters regard Paul as an expensive flop but I think he was unlucky.
Paul did OK for Swansea scoring 16 goals in 65 appearances and they made a profit when they sold him to Leyton Orient for £40,000 in January 2006. Paul spent a year there scoring 7 in 34 appearances before a £25,000 move to Cheltenham. Paul scored the same number of goals in 79 appearances at Whaddon Road and he was released in the summer of 2009. He had a season at Lincoln but failed to score in 15 appearances and moved down to Conference football in the summer of 2010 when he signed for Mansfield. He is doing well there with 11 goals in 31 appearances at the time of writing.