Dom Roman – @DomRoman
The summer transfers made by a team often have a big influence on how well the season goes, and 17-18 was unfortunately no different. As Owers gets to work on 2018’s TUFC #Incomings, I thought I’d remind you all of the last 10 years of summer transfer windows – the good, the bad and the ugly signings (yes there have been some good!).
So here is a run-down of the notable players who have been brought in during the previous 10 summers, by the various managers (6). *This does not include the loan signings
1) 2008 in the Conference
Manager – Paul Buckle
Defenders – Lee Hodges (Plymouth)
Midfielders – Mustapha Carayol (MK Dons), Nicky Wroe (York City), Tyrone Thompson (Crawley), Wayne Carlisle (Exeter City)
Strikers – Matt Green (Cardiff City)
Compared to 2007 the summer of 2018 was far less hectic, with Buckle looking to bring in a few reinforcements to improve the squad. Nicky Wroe and Wayne Carlisle struggled to win over the fans, but played pivotal roles in our eventual promotion that season. Matt Green had pace to burn but was too lightweight for our direct approach, whilst Mustapha Carayol took a long time to find his feet in a yellow shirt. Meanwhile Tyrone Thompson is probably one of the poorest players to play for us, with no position on the pitch being suitable for him!
2) 2009 in League Two
Manager – Paul Buckle
Defenders – Kieran Charnock (Peterborough), Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (Leicester City)
Midfielders – Eunan O’Kane (Coleraine), Lloyd Macklin (Swindon Town)
Strikers – Scott Rendell (Peterborough)
A return to the League saw Buckle make only minor alterations to the squad and trust the players who had won promotion. Scott Rendell was added to give us more firepower and he did fit in well alongside Benyon in attack. Apart from that a very young Eunan O’Kane would obviously become a tremendous player over time and one of our best signings in recent years. Lloyd Macklin showed some potential but would never prove himself in Yellow, whilst Lathaniel Rowe-Turner could not displace Nicholson at left-back.
3) 2010 in League Two
Manager – Paul Buckle
Defenders – Guy Branston (Burton Albion)
Midfielders – Damon Lathrope (Norwich City)
Strikers – Billy Kee (Leicester City), Chris Zebroski (Wycombe Wanderers)
United’s strong end to the season 09-10 continued into the next, and the summer signings certainly helped. Guy Branston had already been on loan at Plainmoor and signed up to give United proper leadership and experience in defence that the side had previously lacked. Also back was Chris Zebroski, a temperamental figure Chris had his best season in 2010-11 – even though he often led the attack on his own. Damon Lathrope came in and quietly patrolled the midfield, whilst chunky attacker Billy Kee showed plenty of potential but never quite settled in Devon.
4) 2011 in League Two
Manager – Martin Ling
Goalkeepers – Robert Olejnik (Falkirk), Martin Rice (Truro)
Defenders – Joe Oastler (QPR), Brian Saah (Cambridge Utd), Daniel Leadbitter (Newcastle Youth)
Midfielders – Ian Morris (Scunthorpe)
Strikers – Chris McPhee (Kidderminster), Rene Howe (Peterborough), Taiwo Atieno (Stevenage)
When Buckle left for Rovers many feared the worst, but Martin Ling used his contacts wisely on arrival to sculpt a promotion chasing team. The best signings strengthened the spine of the team from Bobby Olejnik – a fearless and dominant figure in goal, to Brian Saah in defence – who got better as the season went on, through to big Rene Howe upfront – who battered and bruised defenders! Young Joe Oastler also fitted in well at right back. Apart from that journeyman striker Taiwo Atieno chipped in with a few goals, and Ian Morris did ok but failed to win over the crowd.
5) 2012 in League Two
Manager – Martin Ling
Defenders – Aaron Downes (Chesterfield), Thomas Cruise (Arsenal)
Midfielders – Craig Easton (Dunfermline), Nathan Craig (Caernarfon Town), Billy Bodin (Swindon)
Strikers – Ryan Jarvis (Walsall)
In looking at the recent decline of our football club, season 12-13 is rightly pinpointed as where it started to go wrong. As expected Ling added Billy Bodin who had sparkled on loan. Unfortunately Billy was to have a nightmare time at Plainmoor where his confidence evaporated. Big defender Aaron Downes did well but the defence was generally unsteady, whilst veteran midfielder Craig Easton no longer had the legs in the centre of the park. Other signings Ryan Jarvis, Thomas Cruise and Nathan Craig were all capable at times, but never trusted enough to become first team regulars.
6) 2013 in League Two
Manager – Alan Knill
Defenders – Dale Tonge (Rotherham), Krystian Pearce (Notts County)
Midfielders – Jordan Chappell (Sheffield Utd), Courtney Cameron (Aston Villa)
Strikers – Elliot Benyon (Southend), Karl Hawley (Scunthorpe)
On paper the summer of 2013 looked fairly positive for United, with new boss Knill installed and some exciting looking signings brought in. Unfortunately on the pitch United were woeful. No two players epitomised this more than Elliot Benyon and Karl Hawley, who had truly awful seasons – whilst the experienced Dale Tonge tried and failed to fill the right back role. Krystian Pearce won player of the year and did play ok alongside Downes, and wingers Jordan Chappell and Courtney Cameron put in some decent performances but lacked consistency.
7) 2014 in the Conference
Manager – Chris Hargreaves
Goalkeepers – Jordan Seabright (Dagenham & Redbridge)
Defenders – Angus McDonald (Salisbury)
Midfielders – Luke Young (Plymouth), Louis Briscoe (Mansfield), Toby Ajala (Welling),
Courtney Richards (Brighton)
Strikers – Ryan Bowman (York City), Duane Ofori-Acheampong (Southend)
Chris Hargreaves struggled to live up to the billing of returning hero on his return to Plainmoor, but he did do some good business in his only summer in the job. The best incoming at the time was clearly Luke Young, who was comfortably our best player despite his form dipping after Xmas. Frontman Ryan Bowman did score goals but showed a bad temperament at times, with flying winger Toby Ajala and chunky Louis Briscoe providing some exciting (if inconsistent) support. Add to that Angus MacDonald who would eventually blossom under Nicho and the hard-working Courtney Richards, a player who started brightly much like the team that year before fading.
8) 2015 in the Conference
Manager – Paul Cox
Goalkeepers – Fabian Spiess (Notts County)
Defenders – Exodus Geohaghon (Whitehawk), Dan Butler (Portsmouth), Jamie Richards (Plymouth Argyle)
Midfielders – James Hurst (Hednesford), Shepherd Murombedzi, Bayan Fenwick (Peacehaven), Simon Heslop (Mansfield Town)
Strikers – Waide Fairhurst (Macclesfield), Malachi Lavelle-Moore (Macclesfield), Tyrone Marsh (Ebbsfleet Town), Alex Fisher (Mansfield Town)
Paul Cox came in and instantly tried to incorporate players into his preferred 3-5-2 system. Unfortunately the big name incomings Exodus Geohaghon and James Hurst were transfer busts for different reasons, whilst the likes of striker Alex Fisher and Fabian Spiess started well enough before losing form rapidly in the opening weeks. Meanwhile Tyrone Marsh and Simon Heslop had talent, but jumped ship as soon the going got tough over the winter period and the crocked Waide Fairhurst only managed three substitute appearances. His best signing by a country mile was Dan Butler, who played his heart out for the team that season and did not miss a game.
9) 2016 in the Conference
Manager – Kevin Nicholson
Goalkeepers – Jamie Robba (Lynx FC), Brendan Moore (Fleetwood Town)
Defenders – Sean McGinty (Aldershot), Giancarlo Gallifuoco (Melbourne), Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (Kidderminster)
Midfielders – Damon Lathrope (Aldershot), Dan Sparkes (Braintree), Aman Verma (Kidderminster)
Strikers – Jamie Chamberlain (Bideford), Brett Williams (Forest Green)
Nico’s 2016 alumni was a proper mixed bag. Winger Dan Sparkes quickly became a hit at Plainmoor and was many peoples choice for Player of the Year, whilst Sean McGinty won the Young Player of the Year. Keeper Brendan Moore was fairly consistent in another wobbly season and the promising Aussie Giancarlo Gallifuoco + left back Lathaniel Rowe-Turner improved as the season wore on. Apart from that Brett Williams was used sparingly and did not fit in with Nicho’s team ethos, but of course scored when it mattered and kept us in the NL for another season.
10) 2017 in the Conference
Manager – Kevin Nicholson
Goalkeepers – Neal Osborn (Southampton), Ryan Clarke (Unattached)
Defenders – Liam Davis (Cheltenham), Ryan Higgins (Southport), Josh Gowling (Grimsby)
Midfielders – Jake Gosling (Bristol Rovers), Yan Klukowski (York City)
Strikers – Jon-Paul Pittman (Harrogate), James Gray (Glenavon), Jamie Reid (Exeter City), Rory Fallon (Unattached)
On paper the 2017 crop of summer signings by Nicho looked reasonably solid, unfortunately as the season wore on just about everything went wrong. The experienced three of Jake Gosling, Josh Gowling and Ryan Clarke all struggled with injuries and fitness – with only Josh making any impact on the team over the course of the season. Liam Davis was lamented for his own injury problems, but did show quality on arrival, whilst Ryan Higgins looked just what we needed at right-back before ill-health cruelly intervened. Striker Rory Fallon was a poor late summer signing that unfortunately summed up the end of Kevin’s tenure.
*Refresh of an article first published in Highway to Hele fanzine 2015