Saturday, 19 March 2011
310 Patrick McCourt
Position : Winger (also played as a forward)
Played : 2001-02 to 2004-05
Appearances : 79
Goals : 8
Dear me , is it really almost 10 years ago since this guy first appeared for us ? Patrick was signed from Irish youth side Foyle Harps and made his debut at 17 coming on as sub in Parkin's last game at home to Torquay in November 2001 having previously appeared in a couple of Auto-Windscreen games. The incoming John Hollins, having played alongside Chelsea's flair players in the early 70s, was quick to secure him on a three and a half year contract.
Part of the reason why it doesn't seem so long ago is that Paddy (no surname necessary) is still a live issue among supporters , likely to raise passions on the Rivals.net Forum as soon as his name is dropped. He was capable of doing anything on the field with his silky ball skills, vision and confidence but the other side of the coin was that he was undisciplined and sometimes turned up completely unfit to play. Steve Parkin's decision to release him in January 2005 is the most controversial managerial action of my time watching Dale.
John Hollins quickly realised his potential and he was soon starting games for us. He scored 4 goals in 2001/02 including two winners and an equaliser. The other came at home to Hull when he came on with us 1-2 down and completely turned the game. With two mazy runs he scored one and then laid one on a plate for Kevin Townson which sealed our place in the play-offs. In April he became the second (by a few minutes) Dale player to win a full international cap when he came on for Nothern Ireland in a friendly against Spain.
Although the following season was the only one in which Paddy started in the majority of his appearances it was more frustrating for him as we now had a surfeit of attacking players and Paul Simpson chopped and changed the side to try and find the right balance. Paddy also didn't help himself by posing for a Rochdale Observer photographer who found him in a nightclub.He scored the winner at home to Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup and had a particularly impressive game away at York (although he was lucky to receive only a yellow for a two-footed lunge). In the second half of the season he was played in the hole behind the front two for a while but didn't play after the Good Friday game at home to Bury where the tension between him and the manager (also playing ) was palpable.
Alan Buckley found him frustrating to work with and twice sent him out on trial to bigger clubs (Crewe and Norwich) to try and open his eyes to what was required of a professional footballer. It didn't work; there was one game where he had to be brought off to jeers of "Pisshead !" after 20 minutes, being obviously unfit to play. His only real contribution for Buckley was setting up Kevin Townson's first goal in the FA Cup at Bury. The returning Steve Parkin only gave him 3 starts but he got a couple of goals , his last one in a Dale shirt coming in the 3-0 defeat of Leyton Orient where he came on to notch the last goal.
Paddy actually started three games in August 2004 but was scapegoated after a 0-3 defeat by Bury and lost his place to new signing Ernie Cooksey. You have to be careful what you say about Ernie now but even his biggest admirers would admit he wasn't a winger. Paddy made his last appearance as a sub at home to Macclesfield in October 2004 after which he was transferlisted and not even selected for the bench. Parkin said he wasn't what we needed but how can you not need someone who can create a goal out of nothing ? How could he be expendable in a squad containing the mighty talents of Ashley Proberts and Leighton McGivern ?
Paddy finally departed for Shamrock Rovers in January 2005 and became a big fish in the small pond of Irish football. In June 2008 Celtic nabbed him ahead of West Brom and he has steadily made a name for himself, though still mainly as an impact sub , with spectacular goals and a recall to the Northern Ireland side. Are you watching Mr Parkin ?