Matty Hayward – @MattyHayward96
Has anyone been to Cheltenham lately? Is there anyone there? I have a theory that it’s become a ghost town, that Gary Johnson has ransacked the lot. Everyone to have been employed at – perhaps even visited? – Whaddon Road must, by law, be employed by Torquay United at some point in their future. The latest cab off that particular rank is striker Dan Holman, whose signing was announced before Saturday’s friendly against Chippenham. Let’s see what he’s about.
I often complain about how hard it is to write a career summary section about certain players because of their youth and inexperience. The opposite is the case with Dan Holman. If I were to write a comprehensive career history for Holman it would be as boring as it would be long. In fact, his Wikipedia page is so detailed (it has 138 (one-hundred-and-thirty-eight) references!) that the only reasonable conclusion is that he’s written it himself. So, to summarise, I’ll split his career up into three stages, and give you the key points from there.
Stage One: Scoring Hatfuls for Teams With Silly Names At Silly Levels in and around Northamptonshire
Dan spent most of his early career with Long Buckby, scoring 30 in 35 then 26 in 37 across two spells. He also spent some of his youth career with Northampton ON Chenecks and Moulton Magpies, and had a brief senior dalliance with Oxford City.
Stage Two: Fire up the Pistons, We’re Going to Histon
Histon took a punt and were rewarded with 27 goals in his first season in the Conference North. Then to Braintree in the Conference: 24 across two seasons. Colchester took a punt, but that didn’t work out. Loans back to the Conference (Wrexham, Aldershot, Dover) were short-lived and unsuccessful, but 14 in 26 for Woking led to a timely poaching by Johnson’s Cheltenham that January. The poacher on the pitch got 16 in 18 for the Robins and they went up. He scored all the goals in a 4-0 win over Woking and duly got his new club promoted, which you have to say is extremely funny.
Stage Three: The Importance of Toes
Holman’s first season in the League with Cheltenham saw him play 28 times and score twice. Before the start of that season, he broke his toe in a training collision with Aaron Downes. It’s clear that that affected him, and subsequent loans out to Boreham Wood, Leyton Orient and Aldershot didn’t work out. Afterwards, he returned to his old stomping ground of Northamptonshire with Kettering and Brackley, and until last week was officially retired and focusing on his business. But now he’s back, and he’s here.
Compilations galore. Here’s every goal he scored in that Woking/Cheltenham 2015/16 season. Some left footed, some right, some headed. Some close-range snafflings, some absolute screamers. The child in me is getting very excited.
And here is what the creator calls a “showreel”. More goals, basically, plus a few misses for some reason. It’s very clear that Holman was a fantastic striker at this level. The first strike is…so rude.
Holman is an out-and-out striker. He’s certainly not a target man, but he looks like a goalscorer. If you must think of him in terms of former Torquay players, think Billy Waters but a better finisher. His dink past Chippenham’s ‘keeper on Saturday was sublime, and he’d previously hit the bar twice with two superb efforts. His thighs are magnificently large and obviously key to his game. When he shoots, the ball stays hit.
“Dan Holman is a player I know very well – I think Dan single-handedly got Cheltenham promoted during the second half of the season with his goals in 2015/16. He was absolutely prolific at that stage”
“a broken toe is very debilitating, if you can’t get it working, it makes you a much lesser player – especially with the shots he has.”
“The first couple of training sessions, he was unbelievable. I know him, and all I needed to see was that he was back to his fitness, because I know he’s got goals in him. He will be a great player for us, because he’s a natural goalscorer.”
…and that verdict is good enough for me.
Most Likely To
- Be called “Dan Goalman” by Paddy whenever he scores
- Play in a front two with Wright when required
- Have “Dan!” shouted at him at every opportunity
Least Likely To
- Lead the line alone. It’s probably something he can do, but his game seems to favour being alongside a larger striker rather than taking on all the aerial battles himself
- Lose a thigh-measuring competition, if such a thing exists.
I can’t work out if this signing is a touch of inspired genius or total desperation. Has Gary brought in a star-in-the-making from obscurity like he has done so often before, or has he given his injured mate a ring because he’s run out of options? Is he going to score three and become a joke figure, or score thirty and become a legend? I genuinely don’t know. That’s why we watch football, I guess: these things can’t be predicted. It’s pointless trying.
We have to hope that Holman is fit, or close to fitness, and that his toe is no longer causing him issues. We have to expect that his link-up with Danny Wright will, when required, bear fruit like it did at Cheltenham. We have to remember that this guy hasn’t played at a good level for a while, so his transition back into full-time football won’t be seamless. But promotion campaigns are often built on such risks. Perhaps we (ok, I) should just shut up for a bit and see how he does on the pitch when it matters? Should stop speculating about what he might, or can, do and just observe what he does. Give up thinking about his varied career to date and start thinking about his career from now? Yeah, let’s do that.
COYY – Matty