The Monday Profile: Darryl Duffy
Darryl Duffy’s career trajectory may perhaps have left the striker wondering if he has perpetually arrived too early for the party. Most notably, journeyman though he may appear to be, he has enjoyed spells at two clubs which, not long after his departure, have attained Premier League status.
First, he joined Hull City in a fanfare of publicity five years ago, his 37 goals in just 68 games for Falkirk having promised much but, like Ally McCoist, Owen Coyle and Anthony Stokes before him, such abundance was harder to plunder south of Hadrian’s Wall.
After just three goals for the Tigers, he followed a successful loan spell at Swansea City with a permanent move – only to lose form and opportunity – Roberto Martínez had brought Guillem Bauzà and Jason Scotland to the club at the same time and it was they who were to revel in the salad days.
The peregrinations continued – and a sharp start for Bristol Rovers provided encouragement, only for his form to tail off over the course of the 2009-10 season – prompting loan spells at Carlisle and Hibs. A metatarsal injury acquired in a “freak” (always the adjective used) training ground incident led to a frustrating time at Easter Road and manager John Hughes lost his job while Duffy enjoyed a treatment room vacation, albeit without being nationally lampooned.
He was one of 17 Pirates to be led down the Memorial Ground gangplank this May but despite a wish to get closer to his roots, his next destination was but a short trundle along the M5 – a Cheltenham Town suffering a hangover from a calamitous slide down the 2010-11 League 2 table were, as highlighted by Maxi Hobbs in our seasonal preview, in desperate need of a striker.
The Robins had a tough start – a narrow 1-0 defeat against one of the league favourites in Gillingham at Priestfield provided few in the way of chances and then an MK Dons side unfortunately primed for what should be a richly productive season cantered to victory at Whaddon Road in the Carling Cup.
But Paolo Di Canio’s torrid start to life as a manager in the basement featured a Cheltenham chapter to go alongside the more horrid episode at home to Oxford yesterday afternoon. In a derby of sorts, one set of Reds prevailed over another and it was a famous victory indeed for Duffy’s cohorts.
A late goal from Kevin Ellison – a man who had started this season in spectacular form for Morecambe – earned the Shrimps a win over Cheltenham on Tuesday but Duffy’s impact was forcible yesterday. Northampton, another of the favourites, were defeated 3-2, with the Scot netting twice, once from the penalty spot after being felled. The Gloucestershire club could well have their main man.