Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Thursday, October 01, 2009

We salute... Journeymen

Our popular series putting the forgotten aspects of football under the spotlight continues.

This time Nobes looks at those professional footballers for whom one season at a club is more than enough.

Commitment, contracts and ability don't even enter their vocabulary, as they seem to spend their entire career moving from club to club as often as humanly possible

Welcome to the world of the Journeyman.

Drewe Broughton

Wherever this 30-year-old targetman goes, he leaves an impression. Usually it's in the form of an elbow mark in the face of opposition defenders.

Broughton is a true journeyman, having trailed around the lower league scene after leaving his first club, Norwich after a loan spell with Wigan.

Brentford, unbelievably, once paid £100,000 for his services. Yet he left after just a month and one game at Griffin Park to Peterborough for, unbelievably, the same fee.

Subsequent loan spells in Non-L
eague with Nuneaton, Dagenham, and Stevenage followed, before, unbelievably, a £50,000 move to Kidderminster.

Since then, fans of Southend, Wycombe and MK Dons, have 'enjoyed' his 'talents.'

He also has the distinction of having been relegated from the Football League in three successive seasons with different clubs after spells at Rushden, Boston, and Wrexham.

Currently at League Two Rotherham, his legendary journeyman status has even earned him his own Sporcle quiz.

Trevor Benjamin

The classic journeyman, Benjamin has been exhibiting his lack of talent in front of goal for 22 different clubs during his 14-year career.

After starting out at Cambridge, where he spent five years, he spent a similar length of time at Leicester after a £1.3 million move.

Since leaving the Foxes though, he's had phenomenally unsuccessful loan spells at Crystal Palace, Norwich, West Brom, Gillingham, Rushden, Brighton, Northampton, Watford, Swindon, Boston, and Walsall.

He's also joined the likes of Coventry, Peterborough, and Hereford permanently and in 2008 dropped down to Non-League with Gainsborough.

Subsequent spells at Northwich, Hednesford, Wellingborough, and Kidsgrove followed, before he joined current club Tamworth in August. Officially journeyman-tastic.

Jimmy Glass

Jimmy Glass is the rarest kind of journeyman - namely one that isn't known for the long list of clubs he's played for.

The goalkeeper who started out with Crystal Palace has spent time with the likes of Portsmouth, Gillingham, Burnley, Swindon, Cambridge, Brentford, Oxford and in Non-League with Crawley and Kingstonian.

His longest spell came at Bournemouth, where he became the first 'keeper to score an own goal at Wembley.

However, he will always be remembered for his time at Carlisle. He only played three games for the Cumbrians, but became a hero after coming up for a corner and scoring the 95th minute goal which saved Carlisle from relegation from the Football League in 1999.

In one kick he managed to save an entire club and forever banish any chance of simply being remembered for constantly moving around.

Deon Burton

Currently firing in the goals for League One Charlton, the Jamaican has moved around constantly since starting out with Portsmouth in the mid-'90s.

After a loan spell at Cardiff, he joined Derby for £1 million, where he was loaned out to Barnsley, Stoke, and back to Pompey, who he re-joined permanently after leaving Pride Park.

Yet again though, he found himself loaned out to Walsall and Swindon, and then joined Brentford and Rotherham before three seasons with Sheffield Wednesday.

During his time at Hillsborough he was loaned out to Charlton, who he subsequently joined on a full-time basis.

Still only 33, Burton has plenty more years to add to the 11 clubs he's already represented, and a couple more spells at Portsmouth to boot too.

Neil Redfearn

Neil 'Relegation' Redfearn is as well known for moving around clubs as he is for ending the season dropping down a division.

After starting out with Bolton in 1982, the Yorkshireman moved to Lincoln, Doncaster, Crystal Palace, Watford, and Oldham before a return close to home with Barnsley.

After seven years at Oakwell, he moved to Charlton in 1998, ending the season relegated from the Premier League for a second successive year. He then moved onto Bradford City and Wigan, before another relegation, this time from the Football League with Halifax.

Boston was his next port of call, before turning up at Rochdale, and then dropping down into Non-League with Scarborough, where as player-manager he was relegated, again.

Redfearn then spent time at Bradford Park Avenue, Stocksbridge, and Northwich, where he had another disastrous managerial stint. He then turned up at Frickley, Bridlington, Emley, and Salford City. He has also been caretaker manager at York and is currently a youth-team coach at Leeds.

Amazingly, he has failed to complete two full seasons with any club since his time with Barnsley.

Geoff Horsfield

The story of Horsfield's career has been incredible.

After making his debut for Scarborough, the striker ended up dropping out of the Football League with spells at Halifax, Guiseley, and Witton, before re-joining Halifax and earning promotion to the Football League.

His form at the Shay caught the attention of big-spending Fulham, who took him down to London in 1998, and then he left for Birmingham, who he played for in the Premier League.

Wigan then came-calling, before a move back to the top flight at West Brom and later Sheffield United. He then had loan spells at Leeds, Leicester, and Scunthorpe, before linking up with Lincoln last season.

Now player/assistant manager at League Two Port Vale - the 14th club of a career which has spanned the real heights and depths of football. This journeyman has really seen it all.

Ade Akinbiyi

Introducing you to the first Transatlantic Journeyman, oh, and that guy who took his shirt off and went berserk when he actually managed to score a goal for Leicester in the Premier League.

Akinbiyi started out with Norwich, and after loan spells with Hereford and Brighton, joined Gillingham and Bristol City for profitable spells before signing for Wolves.

It was there he caught the attention of Leicester, who signed him for £5.5 million. However, he failed spectacularly in the East Midlands, and when the club was relegated he left for Crystal Palace before a loan spell at Stoke became permanent.

His next move was to Burnley, where he had two spells with another dismal season in the Premier League - this time with Sheffield United - in-between.

Released by Burnley in the summer, he crossed over to the United States where he joined Houston Dynamo - failing to score in 14 games for the MLS side.

Now reportedly back in the country for League Two's big-spenders Notts County, clearly determined to prove they really do have more money than sense.

Many people find the concept of the journeyman as laughable. A player clearly unwanted by clubs who, seemingly, mistakenly sign him. A player who is never good enough to hold down a regular place at a club, and is constantly loaned out to clubs desperate - usually for a striker.

However, instead of mercilessly mocking them as I have been, perhaps we should admire the persistence and determination of these players.

Never afraid to go to far-flung parts of the country simply to play the game they love. Determined to earn a contract and money to just earn a living and provide for their family.

Why, these are modern-day heroes. None of your flashy car-driving 20-year-old millionaires here - they haven't got the talent for that.

At the end of the day, nothing says, "We're fucked and probably going down," more than when your club takes a punt on a journeyman to try and score the goals to save you. They're quite simply an essential part of the lower league fabric.

Journeymen..... Soccer AM/MW salutes you!

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