Saying goodbye can be hard sometimes. The recent Jon Main tribute was hard to write (if you missed it you can catch up here), but even that didn’t reach the level of a post that has been read more than any other in the short history of the Anonymous Don, my farewell to Jason Goodliffe two years ago, an epic of an homage that bordered the homoerotic in places, and the writing of which took days due to my spontaneously bursting into tears at random. It never got to the stage where I asked Mrs AD to wear a Goodliffe mask though. I mean, I thought of it, who wouldn’t…

Then again saying farewell can sometimes be quite easy. For example, did any of us really notice when Andre Blackman slipped through the back door? While he certainly doesn’t fall into the Andre category, Delano Sam-Yorke never made an impact on the first team, despite doing well on loan at Basingstoke (and being enough of a threat we refused them permission to play him upon drawing the Hampshire side in the FA Cup). He certainly shone in pre-season, I can understand why Terry signed him, but with hindsight we might have noticed he wasn’t our sort of player after his Bromley impression at Corinthian-Casuals during pre-season…

As was commented after Max Porter signed, Mark Nwokeji was the last long-term target TB eventually got his hands on, and it certainly couldn’t have helped that he was effectively dropping a couple of divisions to join. Perhaps if he had come to us directly from Staines he might have made an impact… we love small, pacy strikers, we do… he could have been another Roscoe… Injuries didn’t help his cause, and as Jonny Main found his chances blocked by in form Christian Jolley. so Nwokeji couldn’t find a way past an emerging Ryan Jackson. Even when Jacksons form dropped off, Nwokeji found Luke Moore ahead of him and playing like a man possessed – and from March onwards the writing seemed to be on the wall for him.

It was the back four that saw the biggest surprises on the departure front. During pre-season Fraser Franks and Ed Harris performed so well they almost bound TB to sign both or neither. The latter was never an option, and the pair seemed inseparable form-wise in the early stages. Much has been made retrospectively of Harris performance in the FA Trophy defeat to Woking, while Harris didn’t exactly cover himself in glory that day, neither was it the stand out poor performance in what was a woeful team display. Harris is a player of great potential, Football League potential… and, yet, that may have been his undoing, with Brown looking to fill that squad place with a more immediate prospect. You almost get the impression TB had decided to only take one of the two with him if the Dons made it through the playoffs, if that was the case Harris has lost out to a slightly better man in Franks.

Harris must have been a difficult conversation for Brown, but not as difficult as having to break the bad news to Ismail Yakubu. Yak fell foul of his inability to play twice a week on a regular basis (something bemoaned by TB during more than one post match press conference…), Beyond his injury issues, Yakubu ticked all the boxes Brown would look for in a centre half, besides being physically imposing in both penalty areas, Yak was technically gifted with the ball at feet, and when he was on the pitch he seldom put a foot wrong. In fact, I can only remember one error, nodding into the side netting with goal gaping and clock ticking at Eastlands. Even that was probably a more difficult chance than the replay I’m currently viewing in my mind’s eye, and was ultimately dwarfed by his confident penalty that set the stage for Keds to blast us back where we belong.

Like Harris, I can understand Browns decision (in spite of being disappointed by it), Football League status will allow us to bring in someone at least equally talented that can play week in, week out… a case of lightning striking twice for Yak after Barnet came to a similar conclusion last summer. Ultimately I personally felt we could give it a go with our five current centre halves, and yes, we probably could, Fortunately we are led by a man who isn’t afraid to make big decisions to take our football club forward. I have confidence the new blood he will bring in to replace them will make us stronger. And yet, I’m still interested in where all of those guys will end up next season. Yakubu has already been in discussions with Fleetwood (perhaps unfortunate that if he can’t find a League side willing to take a chance on him, there aren’t too many southern sides that will be challenging for the Conference next season…). One or two of them could come back and haunt us at some point in the future…

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One thought on “Departures

  1. Arirang says:

    Always sad to see players go, especially those that have played a big part in getting us where we are today.

    Brutal reality of football though is that this is inevitable as we move up leagues. Most of those released would probably have been gone even if we were in the BSP next year – after all only Yakubu featured in the playoff squads. Indeed I suspect we’ll see several others of those retained ultimately not making the cut in league football next season.

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