Saturday, 9 April 2011
331 Michael Simpkins
Position : Left back
Played : 2003-04
Appearances : 27
Goals : 0
Now we're up to the grimmest season of recent times which ended in a relegation fight. At one point our fate wasn't in our own hands but fortunately Paul Simpson's Carlisle weren't able to take advantage of the situation. The seeds were sown in the summer. It took a while to appoint Alan Buckley and word leaked out that it was a split decision with the losing faction favouring the return of Steve Parkin then in a minor coaching role at Notts County. The Board then set Buckley up to fail by giving him a minimal budget. Mind you Buckley didn't help himself by going on a fortnight's holiday immediately after his appointment. He then appointed Tony Ford as his assistant and when he also brought back Gary Jones it seemed like he himself was setting up Parkin's return.
Michael is easily the most notorious of his signings on a free from Cardiff. Michael's career began at Sheffield Wednesday but he made his League debut with Chesterfield making 26 appearances over four seasons. In 2001 he moved to Cardiff but didn't manage to establish himself in the first team and had loan spells at Exeter and Cheltenham.
At first sight Michael seemed a worthy successor to Dave Grant, a tall uncompromising left back with a dangerous cross but this soon proved a false diagnosis. For one thing he couldn't tackle cleanly and so got at least booked virtually every game. His positional sense was also questionable. Despite that I don't think he was quite as bad as the Parkinistas make out. For one thing he was playing out of position; he was really a left-footed centre half not a full back but only once got the chance to play there. His heading was good and though erratic his crossing could be lethal. He won the game away at York setting up both goals with long raking crosses. It's also worth remembering that our two worst results under Buckley, the home defeat by Kidderminster and the 4-0 mauling at Southend came in games where Michael wasn't playing.
Of course Michael will forever be damned for the Cup tie at home to Luton where he took exception to a comment from the WMG stand and started offering to meet his critic in the car park while he was supposed to be defending a corner. Both team-mates and linesman had to intervene. The game was already lost by then but it was still stagggeringly unprofessional. Michael clearly received a dressing-down for this and his game started to improve in the remaining matches of Buckley's tenure.
Steve Parkin gave him a few games to start with but after the game at Northampton where he was bizarrely played in midfield he was cast in the wilderness not even making the bench. Rather cruelly Parkin took him down to Oxford for the final game and had him warming up pre-match but still didn't put him on the bench.
Although Michael's contract had another year to run he was paid up and moved to Burton Albion in 2004. He played 20 games before Nigel Clough got fed up of his indiscipline (including a fight outside his house) and let him go to Leigh Genesis. He moved on to Worksop Town (2005), Buxton (2006) and Grantham (2007) before settling at Retford United for two and a half seasons. He rejoined Worksop this summer.