Friday, 13 May 2011

384 Lee Crooks

Position :  Midfield (also  played  at  centre  half)

Played : 2006-07  to  2007-08

Appearances : 40

Goals : 0

Lee was signed on the eve of the season after a trial spell following his release by Bradford City. The 28-year old former England schoolboy international made his name at Manchester City where he was the regular right back in their 1998-99 Second Division campaign and scored a 40-yard equaliser against Chesterfield . Lee’s opportunities got scarcer as City went back up the leagues and he made just two appearances in the Premiership. After a short loan spell at Northampton he moved to Barnsley for £190,000 in March 2001 although his debut was delayed until the following season by a ligament injury. Lee made 50 appearances for Barnsley (some under Steve Parkin) before being released in June 2004 after failing to prove his fitness to new manager Paul Hart. He signed for Bradford and made 44 appearances over two seasons. In January 2006 he went to Notts County on loan making 18 appearances and was going to sign for them until they changed the managers in the close season.

Lee had a lot of good qualities. He was versatile and intelligent with a good range of passes, had a fierce shot , an even fiercer tackle and was good in the air. On the down side he had no pace whatsoever which made him seem much older than he was. He made his first appearance in central defence in the Rose Bowl at Oldham (his ex-City team-mate Tony Vaughan started alongside him but limped off after 5 minutes and was never seen again) and was working the crowd even though many didn’t know who he was. Parkin gave him a one year deal and introduced him in the second match away at Torquay. He then moved him into midfield as the holding player in a defensive formation where he looked quite good although the tactic didn’t bring much success.

He fell out of favour towards the end of Patrkin’s tenure but Keith Hill restored him to the first team squad often bringing him on to protect a lead. He got some games in defence towards the end of the season and made a fantastic headed clearance away at Bury when he read turncoat William Mocquet’s deep cross to the far post and just got ahead of the striker with Matt Gilks nowhere. He was given another one year deal at the end of the season Keith Hill saying he was “potentially a first team player” an odd remark given Lee’s pedigree.

Lee started 2007-08 playing at the back in place of the injured Nathan Stanton but his slowness was a major weakness and led to two goals in the first two games (ironically the one at home to Chester came just after he’d been announced as the Man of the Match ). After that he was replaced by loanee Guy Branston (though in turn he had to come on for him at home to Macclesfield when Branston was clearly heading for a red card). He made a couple more appearances in midfield when John Doolan was injured around Christmas but was pretty hopeless ; opponents just played around him with Lee too slow to get a foot in.

He went on loan to Farsley Celtic for a month in January then on his return asked to be released from his contract to prepare for a charity walk up Kilimanjaro. This was granted and Lee made an amicable exit from the club.

On his return to the UK he had brief spells at Guiseley and Ossett Town before joining the RAF. He is currently serving in Afghanistan and one hopes he won’t find himself in a spot where he has to make a quick getaway.

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