Sheffield Wednesday have sent former Huddersfield Town and Lincoln City idol Gary Taylor-Fletcher back to Leicester City after an unsuccessful loan spell.
The 33 year-old played his final game for the Owls against Huddersfield, of all clubs, although he was substituted in favour of Atdhe Nuhiu during the second half. GT-F started two of his four games but failed to galvanise a Wednesday side that is having no luck in front of goal. A particularly poor (stonewall penalty) decision and the crossbar denied them in a 0-0 draw that is becoming symptomatic of a side that has the potential to be there or thereabouts despite the financial inequalities in ‘the Premier two’ in all but name.
GT-F would be just the job for Lincoln City during the autumn of a career that has seen him score in the top five divisions of English football. GT-F bagged 30 goals in 93 appearances in all competitions for Big Keith’s Imps and is another of ex-manager Simmo’s finds that have gone on to play in the top flight. With 19 goals in all competitions he finished his first season as the 2003/4 player of the year. Gary then broke a 106 year record scoring in our opening 6 games of the 04/05 season before Peter Jackson, lured him to Huddersfield Town, playing him largely as a winger (Abbot and Booth both took some dislodging in their prime) in a first season that yielded 15 goals and then 11 the season after.
Blackpool signed the mercurial front-man in their first Championship season with his début coming in a 1-0 win over his current club Leicester City. He capped his rise from non-league to the Premier League with a 30 million 39th minute strike in the 09/10 play-off final at Wembley to wipe out those sad memories for the Imps against Southend. Blackpool released him in the summer of 2013 with Leicester offering him a one year deal. Promotion as Champions saw GT-F get a years extention, although he failed to get a look in and then failed to shine at Sheffield Wednesday on loan.
He will be a free agent in the summer (34 in June) and would be a talismanic addition to any ambitious lower Football League or Conference side. Gary averages a goal every four games (101 in 398 League games plus 16 in 51 Cup appearances) not bad for someone who has spent most of his time cutting in. He would put 500-1000 on the gate at Lincoln – good business surely?
|Full name||Gary Taylor-Fletcher|
|Date of birth||4 June 1981|
|Place of birth||Widnes, England|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Club gig in the game|
|2001||Hull City (loan)||5||(0)|
|2001–2002||Grays Athletic (loan)||4||(3)|
|2002||Dagenham & Redbridge (loan)||3||(1)|
|2002–2003||Dagenham & Redbridge (loan)||5||(0)|
|2014||Sheffield Wednesday (loan)||4||(0)|
I get altitude sickness at Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Chesterfield FC and Mansfield Town games having chosen to cover The Conference Premier and Conference North. Like the Manchester City fans last night I have been priced out having moved up to Lincoln as a lifestyle choice. So the two £1250 a year Arsenal season tickets and the jokes of co-season ticket holders Alan Davies and Ian Stone just had to go. Before the rant of sorts, a quick good luck to the promotion chances of Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Chesterfield FC and their fabulous fans who are doing well in-spite of, as opposed to because of, all that TV cash. It could all change for the better, even the playing field so to speak, if Virgin’s complaint to Ofcom is taken seriously? Then again pigs could fly.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Most of us now know that Ofcom, among other things the broadcasting regulator, looks set to open an investigation into how the Premier League sells the TV rights to its live matches. This is at the request of Virgin Media who claim the practice is driving up consumer prices. Ofcom is taking the matter seriously and will give a decision in 8 weeks. So the fan is a consumer to champion once again as opposed to a sheep that is sheered each and every year by the people’s game.
A change in the bidding process would have huge implications on the game from the top to the bottom of the pyramid. Currently, on an annual basis, £340m goes to youth development with another £23 million directly to grass roots. The Footy Bingo grass roots article yesterday shows how Greg Dyke is spearheading what has already had a staggering nine figure impact on the game CLICK ME.
Both sides will have strong arguments, not to mention that previously mentioned grass roots programme that could well be a fantastic legacy for proactive FA Chairman Greg Dyke (£1.2 bn raised for grass roots so far). Further the Premier League do operate fair, transparent and open process when it comes to the auction of its audio-visual rights. Previous investigations by UK and European busy-bodies have found everything to be in order and compliant with UK and European competition legislation.
Virgin rightly argue that we Brits pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV. The real crux of it you feel is that Virgin has to buy its own rights from BSkyB and BT. It will not be bidding in the process later in the year for a slice of the pie for 2016 onwards. Therefore they have to pay higher so we pay higher which ups the price. Perhaps, but, in a free market those of us with BT Broadband can get a good chunk of live games free as well as seeing the Conference games to boot. Were it not for my football writing I would be round at a mates watching the Arsenal games because zero hour contracts have to support a football writers income nowadays. He, a pensioner, is with Virgin and pays over a hundred a month for the privilege of receiving his broadband, telephone and TV from them.
From a purely and somewhat economic theory based point of view it is about supply and demand and, what plagues the failing capitalist economy as a whole. Fairness is the least concern of big business where patents, rights and big money will guarantee an income flow for institutions and shareholders. Aside the odd spat with toothless and underfunded regulators, this is the way directors ensure they keep their bonuses and snouts in the golden troughs. We are consumers when it suits and at best sheep, or the cahless are of no consequence, the rest of the time. The Premiership have a monopoly as a collective bargaining power, with the carve up going to BSkyB and BT who can post the anti. Virgin, ITV and even the BBC cannot justify paying the lump sums on their balance sheets.
Supply and demand is also used for the high price in going to games. Again it is greed based just adding to the ‘cream’ over here while in Germany tickets are a fraction of the UK. We also top the pile across the rest of Europe by a country mile. This superb article from the Guardian is as good a case for the consumer’s defence as I have come across CLICK ME. The three percent increase in season tickets at Arsenal (had one for 14 years) amounted to a fraction of their income. Clearly an US owner taking out a similar amount was purely coincidence of course. Aside the Football Supporters federation no one is championing Twenty is plenty are they? Granted, this is for away tickets, although it would have an impact on the home prices in corresponding areas.
Andy Savage, who runs the website MCFCForum.com, got it spot on in his twitter spat with Rio Ferdinand over the price disgrace and the empty seats at City’s European game against Roma last night.
“I took Rio Ferdinand to task on Twitter. He was taking the mickey out of the empty seats at the Etihad last night. He is living in his own bubble there. Some people are living hand to mouth and don’t know where the next penny is coming from, and he’s criticising them for not filling the stadium when the tickets are £35-plus.
“He was an absolute disgrace on Twitter, as was Scholes on ITV. They are multi-millionaires. They don’t give the man on the street a second thought, how much it is costing people. The cost of living is going up, so many people are out of work. Football is not everyone’s priority, like it used to be. People just can’t afford, over the course of the month, to pay for tickets three, four or five times.
“I took Ferdinand to task, and not because he is an ex-United player. He’s got an autobiography coming out. I’m sure he’s not giving that away. I’m sure he’s not joined QPR for the love it. He’ll be getting a substantial salary. Perhaps it will hit home next year if QPR have to put their prices up and they won’t be able to fill their stadium. It really wound me up last night.”
So is there any end to the golden rails on the inevitably downward staircase of greed? Not from a regulator point of view you feel although the Lords of the manor will inevitably shoot themselves in the foot one day (perhaps the inevitable interest rate rises will not help either). The last round increased the overall receipts of the Premier League to £5.5 Bn if we include the international carve up or £3Bn domestic (up from £3.3BN for all in the last carve up) suggesting the rights have yet to plateau. When the music stops the transfer and wage inflation will catch up with them all. Until then it is open season with perhaps next summer seeing £1 billion spent in the window. For anything or anyone to actually get in the way of big business is a flight of fantasy. Can anyone picture a herd of flying pigs?
The failure of the Sheffield Wednesday takeover will gut Imps manager Gary Simpson. His beloved boyhood Owls, deserve Premiership football – Sheffield rules football was one of the fundamental building blocks of the game. With The Owls, The Blades and oldest club in the world Sheffield FC, there from the off, Premier League football must return to the Steel City soon. Surely its almost a birthright.
Thanks for reading STMI
The Sheffield Wednesday takeover saga was finally ended today by Milan Mandaric after Hafiz Mammadov. an oil and gas magnate continues to fail to deliver on a contract agreed in June. The takeover should have see him take over the club for £40 million as well as supply lucrative sponsorship. The club are already sporting the logo but The Owls feel a bit like they have been there done that and worn the somewhat unpaid for T shirt.
Mammadov, who owns French League 1 side Racing Club Lens and crack Azerbaijan outfit FC Baku exchanged contracts with Owls overlord and saviour Milan Mandaric in June, but has been unable to fund the purchase of the shares. Manadaric is currently considering legal action, however, world events and sanctions against Russia and its allies could well have something to do with things. Mammadov, founded of Azerbaijan-based Baghlan Group and has had to deny reports that he had been held in custody in his homeland due to financial difficulties earlier in the summer. Lens, promotion to the top flight was temporarily suspended due to lack of funds promised by Mammadov and will struggle this year after being able to strengthen the squad. Mamadov is also a big sponsor of Athletico Madrid in Spain who have had to sell some big stars this season
“Unfortunately despite working hard with both Mr Mammadov and his representatives since the agreement was signed he has not been able to meet the obligations set out in the contract for either the purchase of the shares or the sponsorship arrangements.
“Our supporters were extremely excited when the takeover was announced, like me they believed that Mr Mammadov offered a great opportunity for the club, in hindsight my desire to please our supporters probably clouded my decision to grant further time for him to complete the process.
“During this period I have continued to manage the business and to fund the ongoing financial requirements of the club as I have always done and will continue to do so.
“As supporters will have seen, we have fully committed to the sponsorship agreement, we are proudly wearing our new shirts with the ‘Azerbaijan Land of Fire’ logo and this alongside the other advertising inventory will give worldwide coverage to the country.
“Whilst I hope that Mr Mammadov will very quickly overcome his difficulties in Azerbaijan, I cannot allow this continued speculation to continue and have asked my legal advisors to take such legal action as they consider necessary.
“The club as always will attract people who are interested in acquiring a top English football club. Accordingly, I will explore every serious possibility and if I believe that there is someone who can accelerate our plans to return this club to the Premier League then I will do all in my power to welcome them to Sheffield.
“I believe the legacy I left behind at my previous clubs should give supporters every confidence, if any is needed.”
Milan had been expected to remain as Wednesday chairman had the deal been completed.
Former Sheffield Wednesday and Lincoln City hot-shot Vadaine Oliver has opened his account for Crewe in the 2-2 draw against Peterborough United today.
Vadaine slid home a cross from Brad Inman to grab his first goal for the club in the 15th minute. Then Leitch-Smith touched home 30 yard Lee Molyneux’s pass to make it two. Tyrone Barnett, another of Simmo’s finds, gave Peterborough a lifeline after Mark Little’s shot was saved and then Michael Bostwick steered in Lee Tomlin’s corner in the last minute to share the spoils.
Vadaine also got an assist in the 3-3 draw with Rotherham in the League Cup and is starting to become a fist team fixture at the Railwaymen.
STMI wish you all the best Vadaine, keep clocking up the appearances and goal – because we need the cash for someone just like you!
Gary Simpson will look to loans from Middlesbrough FC, Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Crewe Alexandra, Huddersfield, Rotherham United and perhaps even Everton FC as and when the need arises. As expected the strict limitations with regard to the Lincoln City budget meant that Gary Simpson could not make any 11th hour signings prior to the transfer window closing at 11 PM last night.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Although a big target man to replace former sharp-shooting Sheffield Wednesday striker Vadaine Oliver, now at Crewe, is the priority, wages for a proven player would be prohibitive at in excess of a thousand a week even at Conference level. It would merely disrupt the harmony of the dressing room and chew up the slack that remains in the budget for reinforcements when the time arrives. A good STMI Crewe source alleges Simmo was at the game against Huddersfield yesterday, suggesting he has either a Terrier or Alex lad in his sights.
Gary Simpson has a wealth of contacts within both the Football League and Non-League game around the Sheffield and North-West area In the past he has used his Cheshire contacts as well as Everton FC, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday to strengthen the Macclesfield side. Bury and Accrington could also be a source.
That said the manager, who thankfully missed out on the August Manager of the Month, must be happy with the performance of the squad and will surely keep the loan fund option open until the weather or injuries begin to bight. With Blue skies on the cards for a while yet, Yussuf raring to go and, Wright a fortnight away, the managers options seem plentiful.
He has enlisted Preston, Sheffield Wednesday & Doncaster Rovers’ cast-offs, raided Burton, Macclesfield and Stockport County, rebuilt self belief and blended a team where the cream is floating to the top. The team spirit and the desire to help everyone back into the Football League where they belong is why there is no war of the Rovers at Lincoln City. Here in a home from home, the red and white roses bloom in the breadbasket of Britain, at a club Football almost forgot.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Half of the Lincoln squad still live in Sheffield, the manager included. Todd Jordan and Foster (in from Preston) both started out at Sheffield Wednesday, whilst Brown went to Huddersfield and latterly across the Pennines at Macc, along with Ben Thomlinson, to ply their trade. Waide Fairhurst already on a couple for the season and Andrew Boyce have Doncaster Rovers on his CV , whilst the House of Lancaster’s ranks are boosted by Newton, Nolan and Rowe from Stockport. Rowe was the 12 year old Man Utd nabbed from Preston only for a tribunal to lay down a £136k repayment plan.
So clearly the manager, who has a reputation for talent spotting, had put together a good recipe, but the question is could they blend? It would appear so with 3 wins, a draw and a defeat to a side who dwarf the Imps budget. Two of those wins have come against Forest Green Rovers and Wrexham with budgets three times that of the Imps. So what is the secret to bringing a club back from the brink of relegation and extinction last season?
In a rousing pre-match battle cry to raise the heckles ahead of a game at Dartford that could put his side top, the manager describes the side as ‘Winners’ who “want to wear the shirt’ and are ‘ working their absolute stones off’. As Simmo the steel City son who stood on the Kop says.
“I learned a while ago that the more you fill your dressing room with winners, the better chance you have of winning. These lads are working so hard for each other and they are getting their just rewards.”
Incredibly, Lincoln, has a bottom four budget for the division of just over £400,000. Only Nuneaton, Hyde and Braintree have less, with Alfreton and Tamworth overtaking us following their recent flurry, This despite our crowds being the eighth best in the division with more directors around our board table than most. Therefore the manager’s signings and ambitions are perhaps even more remarkable than the surge of season ticket sales that saw Lincoln Loco silently stoke up the steam pre-season. But then Colin Murphy’s Moral suggests miracles can happen every now and again if we Imps make a wish and believe.
|Formation||4-2-3-1 / various|
|Position 2012/13||16th in BSP|
The Imps play one of the hardest formations to mark, but when we meet 5 in the middle it will be as tough for us to brake sides down as visa versa. The team is a passing one but they make space a premium as Wrexham, Forest Green and even Cambridge will confirm. Therein lies another problem, come the winter and the poor pitch quality of the Conference clubs, the passing game struggles, just ask Luton, Forest Green and Grimsby. That is when the Imps will need to mix it up and fund the purchase of a big target man if they are to crown a season of promise. The new grass may not start to come through until March and Lincoln will need results through a tough and, perhaps inclement winter, if they want to stay there or thereabouts.
|24th July||Luke Foster||Preston||Def||Free|
|23rd July||Ben Thomlinson||Alfreton||For||<£7000|
|1st July||Nick Wright||Mansfield||For||Free|
|3rd June||Nat Brown||Macclesfield||Def||Free|
|23rd May||Adi Yussuf||Burton||For||Free|
|23rd May||Jon Nolan||Stockport||Mid||Free|
|17th May||Wade Fairhurst||Macclesfield||For||Free|
|14th May||Danny Rowe||Stockport||Mid/For||Free|
|14th May||Sean Newton||Stockport||Def||Free|
|1st July||Vadaine Oliver||Crewe||For||£25k(+ Ad)|
|Released||Nick Draper||No Club||Keeper|
|Released||Peter Gilbert||No club (Dag?)||Def|
|Released||Nicky Nicolau||Chelmsford C||Mid|
|Released||Adam Smith||FC Halifax||Winger|
|Released||Gomez Dali||No club||For|
Lincoln’s 2013/14 squad.
Click on any players name for a biopic. (dates in parenthesis relate to contract termination)
4 Todd Jordan (June 2014) 6 Mamadou Fofana (June 2014) 7 Wade Fairhurst ( June 2014) 8 Alan Power (June 2015) 9 Danny Rowe (contracted to June 2014) 12 Jake Sheridan ( June 2014) 19 Jon Nolan ( June 2014) 24 Karl Cunningham ( Dec 2013)
Luke Foster, latterly of Preston NE, captained Oxford United the season they returned to the league. Former Sheffield Wednesday, Oxford United, Mansfield Town, Stevenage, York City, Rotherham and Alfreton centre-half Luke Foster was released by League 1 side Preston North End this summer and would be an outstanding candidate to take over the armband against Wrexham FC, in the 3 match absence of Alan Power thanks to a red card at Cambridge.
Thank-you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Foster did not do much wrong at Preston during his short-term deal and only officially came off the Whites pay-roll last month. However the former Oxford legend had trained with the Imps all summer before magnanimously agreeing to a 70% pay cut at a time when he and his fiancée are getting a fledgling fashion business off the ground.
Foster was magnificent in pre-season and continues to put in inspiring performances as the Imps have faced superior resources in every game. Luke certainly looks a good candidate to take the captain’s armband for Monday, although Nolan has also been a somewhat unsung midfield general so far this season.
Crewe look set to debut ex-Imp and Sheffield Wednesday striker Vadaine Oliver against Tranmere Rovers this Saturday. Steve Davis will be hoping his 16th placed side can pull off their first win of the season against Ronnie Moore’s side with powerful target-man Oliver the key. This is good news for the Imps as the transfer fee includes add-ons that are performance related.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Vadaine, Simmo’s Imp version of JJ – Jermaine Johnson – has waited patiently on the bench so far, in a mirror of last season when he was thrown in at the deep end. But 19 sub appearances and 22 starts later the twenty-year-old put powered home 13 goals, been credited with three assists and contributed to at least half a dozen more.
Lincoln undoubtedly miss is aerial dominance up front, with the new passing style of football missing the direct option Vadaine provides. The manager does not seem overly concerned at the moment having used part of the vital transfer funds to bring in Thomlinson for just shy of seven grand. However with Wright and Yussuf missing he may be forced to speed up the transformation of Bohan Dixon from a wide midfielder cum forward to an out and out centre-forward.
scores every 176 minutes.
|FULL NAME||Vadaine Oliver|
|DATE OF BIRTH||21 October 1991 (age 21)|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Sheffield|
|HEIGHT||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|WEIGHT||12 st 4 lb (78 KG)|
|Playing Position||Centre forward|
|CURRENT CLUB||Lincoln City|
|2010-2012||Sheffield Wednesday – 0 apps|
|2013-date||Lincoln City 37 Apps 13 goals|
Ex Sheffield Wednesday youth Todd Jordan got some valuable minutes against Scunthorpe United last night, just two weeks after the horror challenge at Lincoln United that left him on crutches. He is part of a growing Sheffield based influence at The Imps, for despite the loss of Oliver to Crewe Alexandra, the Manager, Brown and Foster hail from there, as well as some Rotherham based lads.
thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.
This typifies the hunger and desire from a lad who wants to prove Wednesday, his boyhood heroes wrong by making a living from the game after all, albeit from a lower level. Born in the harsh environment of Parkhills most lads thereabouts dream of performing for their fellow Wednesdayites on that cavernous but incredibly inspiring Kop.
Todd is regarded as a quick healer but we will have to hope that his natural fitness will be sufficient to cope with missing the full pre-season, for he is a vital part of this young and hungry Simpson side. Todd, or Mo Fofana, must be an effective tough tackling and composed partner for Jon Nolan in the two that are pivotal to Simpson’s cosmopolitan free-flowing 4-2-3-1 formation that Lincoln fans hope will take the Skrill Premier by storm.
Nolan has been superb against supposedly superior technical ability in the last two games, last night being his second man of the match performance in succession. But he cannot be expected to do it alone over a 46 match marathon.
Todd, who can also fill in at left and centre-back is a versatile, strong, competitive and of course tall lad who, like Nolan, can get forward to support the counter. His brilliant 25-yard curling strike against Telford showed he has a shot and a half on him, but his passing and distribution will improve no end under the coaching guidance of Simpson, as well as playing next to Nolan who seems to have it all.
Todd understandably ran out of steam last year, but then he had only just moved up from part-time. Let us hope the break in pre-season will allow him and Nolan to forge the steel spine we need at Woking on opening day. If it does the side will have the balance we need to see off the counters that have so put the Imps on the back-foot in previous seasons. But if the two can win it and get the ball to the feet of the advanced midfield trio plus the poacher up top, Lincoln could be looking at much better than just the top eight this season.
Todds 2012/13 & STMI Biopic
|Full Name||Todd Jordan|
|Date of Birth||4th Dec 1991||Age||21|
|Place of Birth||Sheffield|
|Weight||12 st 6lb|
|2012 2013||Parkgate FC||25||3|
|2013 2013||Staveley MW||5||0|
|2013 –||Lincoln City||12||1|
Former Sheffield Wednesday, Oxford United, Mansfield Town, Stevenage, York City, Rotherham and Alfreton centre-half Luke Foster was released by League 1 side Preston North End in May, he has been with Lincoln since training began. Another ex- Sheffield Wednesday youth, the Mexborough lad was spotted by Simmo and signed by KA in 2005. Despite getting a two year deal he played no part in John Schofield’s brief carpet-ball revolution during the 2006-7 season. Still on trial at Lincoln, the big question is: Will he sign and thus complete the Imps defensive jigsaw? This will be vital if the fantastic forward four are to be able to fire us to glory. Simmo clearly knows the lad, but he will have to use his enticing skills to the full, if he is to have any chance of landing a talented centre-back.
Thank-you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Sheffield Wednesday rated Luke highly enough to offer him a first year pro-deal then farmed him out for experience to Scarborough and Alfreton. Simmo, a lifelong Wednesday fan (the top job would be the dream, but only once his driven mission at Lincoln was complete), was eager to take him to Lincoln and he signed a two year deal, unbeknown to all that the KA era would soon come to a close. Schofield never gave Luke a look in during the second season of his deal and York took him on loan.
Stalybridge offered him a deal for the start of the season but Luke class and composure earned a deal with Oxford just 4 games into the new season. He was a rock (illustrating his BSP) pedigree as Oxford finally got back into the Football League. He became captain and won the fans and players’ awards for best player, making 109 commanding appearances for United, scoring 3 goals. The move to Holdsworth’s Mansfield in 2010 did not work out with just 16 outings. Luke slated Mansfield under Reg, referring to the dressing room as a shambles although he did make a full apology to the fans.
Stevenage offered him a way out and he was inspirational in the League 1 play-off success of 2010-11. The 24 league games certainly put the Stags stint behind him. The move to ambitious big spending Rotherham saw Luke sustain a cruciate injury that wiped out the season. Keen to stay local (he has interests in fashion and retail) Luke signed for Matlock making 9 appearances last season until a relative heavyweight came calling.
Preston teed up a trial which and to his credit he showed enough at the Whites to earn a deal until the end of the season. This shows the quality we could soon come to rely on even if he managed just 8 appearances (6 league 2 cup) and one goal (header V Coventry FLT) for Preston last season. The first choice central defensive pairing of Wright and Huntingdon is something of an irresistible and immovable force.
The Imps have had to play a waiting game, but as they say possession is nine tenths of the law. Luke is Yorkshire based, as are his growing business interests in fashion. Indeed Luke wants to have a multi-million business by the time he is 40, to this end he and his partner have set up 601 Ltd. So we need a need a centre-half and according to an interesting Linked in profile snippet, with regard to his time at Lincoln : First time being a pro and made me the person I am today. Could this suggest that Luke may benefit from teaming up with Simmo again? He could certainly add to his international CV, having played just the once against Bosnia Herzegovina.
Preston 2012/13 stats
|Sq no||Player||Starts||Sub||Mins||Goals||Shots off||Shots on||Assists||YC||RC|