Imps, Leicester & Ipswich, McAuley Still going Strong at WBA

WBA stalwart and former Leicester City and Ipswich Town captain and centre-half Gareth McAuley is enjoying a wonderful Indian summer. One of Lincoln manager Gary Simpson’s early spots, The Imps are incredibly the only club to pay money for a player who has been  priceless for The Baggies, The Foxes, The Tractor Boys and his country.  Gareth has played 46 times for Northern Ireland. What is more intriguing and, perhaps even a return to his roots, is that at 33 he is rediscovering the goal touch, Gareth has 3 in 3, that he learned when he was converted from a defender to a striker all those years ago.

Lincoln City F.C. badge.pngLeicester City logoIpswich Town.svgWest Bromwich Albion crest 

Gareth McAuley was loved and admired at Lincoln. Originally spotted By Simmo and Oaksey during a Northern Ireland scouting mission the previous season, Keith Alexander signed him in the summer of 2004/5.  Gareth had been playing for Coleraine in Londonderry and was part of the Northern Ireland route that would serve Keith and Simmo over the years.

Gareth almost went to Stockport, then under the stewardship of former Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy, who had capped him at B level.  But with the lad on trial at Edgeley Park and on the verge of signing Big Keith nipped in with a two-year deal and offered Coleraine £10k up front plus a slice of any sell-on fee.  Gareth played as one of Keith’s odd defender cum target-man strikers, then a centre-back and a wing back as Dean West and Bloomer tired.  His two-goals, one in each leg  of the 2-1 aggregate win over Macclesfield in the 2005 play-off semi-final were vital.

Gareth gave Lincoln the lead to edge a frenetic home first leg 11 minutes in. Sandwith floated a free-kick, Gareth flew and, almost in a slow motion ‘matrix’ moment, the header crept into the bottom corner. In the return his towering header from a Taylor-Fletcher centre  crossed the line despite the valiant efforts of the Macc defence.   Gareth did not sign a deal the following season, one that also saw Keith Alexander move to Peterborough, allowing Leicester to get him on a free.

His class deserved higher, we knew that, with Leicester offering him the Captaincy during his second season at the club.  Ipswich did make two bids during the 2008 January window  but the Foxes offered managed to hang on to him for a few months with an improved new 3 year deal.  The Foxes were then relegated allowing Ipswich to get him on a free and he would go on to be a terrific and inspirational captain before moving to WBA when his contract was allowed to run down as a 31-year-old in 2011.

West Brom took a bit of a punt with a three year deal in May 2011 but, a three month injury in that first season apart, he went on to complete 44 games last season. Gareth was voted Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year last term but this season promises to be even better. He has started every Premiership game, scored in both Northern Ireland’s World Cup defeats last week and now earned a point against Fulham.

STMI Biopic: Gareth McAuley

Gareth McAuley.jpg

thanks for the pic WIKI

The tale of the tape
Full name Gareth Gerald McAuley
Date of birth 5 December 1979 (age 33)
Place of birth Larne, Northern Ireland
Height/weight 6 ft 3 in / 11 st
Playing position Centre-half left/right back or striker
Current gig in the game
Current club West Bromwich Albion
Number 23
Senior stats
Years Team Apps
1996–2000 Linfield 0 (0)
1999–2000 Ballyclare Comrades (loan) 7 (0)
2000–2002 Crusaders 64 (3)
2002–2004 Coleraine 65 (4)
2004–2006 Lincoln City 784 (10)
2006–2008 Leicester City 84 (7)
2008–2011 Ipswich Town 127 (8)
2011– West Bromwich Albion 78 (6)
2003 Northern Ireland B 1 (0)
2005– Northern Ireland 46 (4)
stats inc League & cup competitions

Posted on September 15, 2013, in Ex Imps, Writers - Neil Gentleman-Hobbs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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