Five Big Second Tier Signings

Posted by on Aug 17, 2010 in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Craig Bellamy’s almost inexplicable arrival in the hallways of the previously thought to be cash strapped Cardiff City Football Club have been met with disbelief on Championship message boards this Summer Tuesday. Even the tiny man’s refusal to comment on the suggestion that Manchester City were unwilling to let him leave for a fellow Premier League club and the fact that it is only a loan deal have failed to take the edge off the anticipation at one of the most sensational (the word is for once not used lightly) signings of recent times, but in reality, this still potent top flight marksman is a comparative nobody compared to others who have climbed aboard the second plateau. Here are 5 stunners from the past:

George Best

El Beatle‘s arrival in the Second Division took place in 1976 and if previous spells at Cork Celtic and South Africa’s Jewish Guild had already provided evidence of a career in decline, it was nonethless surprising indeed to see him grazing away from First Division pastures at then humble Fulham. Best netted 8 in 42 matches and was joined at the Cottage by Rodney Marsh. Big Match broadcasts of the Seventies never seemed to pass without footage of the two tackling eachother despite being team mates – a cringeworthy, overly matey jape that recalls the worst aspects of that decade’s comedy.

Kevin Keegan

Having already wrongfooted the press pack by moving form Hamburg to Southampton a couple of years before, the future Messiah, then only a wannabe Holy Ghost, went one better by descending a level to join Newcastle (NOT his home town club despite the way history has become airbrushed). It was the start of a love affair to trump Paris and Helen in its intensity and that image of Keegan boarding a helicopter after firing the Toon back into the First Division in 1984 is a lasting vision.

Allan Simonsen

The 1977 European Footballer of the Year, garlanded with one of that decade’s great teams Borussia Mà¶nchengladbach and scorer of a UEFA Cup Final winning goal became unhappy at Barcelona when the owners and manager dared to prefer an unproven youngster, Diego Armando Maradona. In a huff to end all huffs, the Dane upped sticks for South London’s Charlton Athletic in 1983. It was liking feeding honey to a donkey bemoaned the Catalan club’s Chairman. Despite 9 strikes in 16 games, the Valiants were about to enter the blackest period in their history and the little magician’s wage packets became sporadic.

Paul Gascoigne

Raoul Moat’s concerned friend joined other big names at Middlesbrough in March 1998, playing seven games in the then Division 1, and helping fire Boro back to Nirvana in second place behind Nottingham Forest. I saw Gazza, plus your Brancas and Festas at Elm Park close to that stadium’s demise as an English footballing venue. Slick of hair and surprisingly svelte, he merely flitted, a sad testimony to a career wrecked by injuries and mad decisions. Another Middlesbrough man, Paul Merson who later went glory hunting with Pompey in similar fashion, was to make a career of flat track bullying.

Robert Prosinečki

The sight of an ambling big haired blondie taking the pitch in August 2001 as Pompey, with just a win in 4 matches took on Grimsby Town was a sight to witness. The Croatian legend’s early performances at Fratton were pure theatre as Gillingham and others were played with like scurrying mice. The work rate would occasionally malfunction but this alumnus of Barcelona and Real Madrid made Portsmouth fans purr.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Mike
    August 17, 2010

    Good stuff as always, and as normal Cardiff could pull off a minor masterstroke in getting their hands on Bellamy. He's always struck me as a shit of a man but a top footballer who never knows when the game's up. God knows we could do with more of his sort at the Riverside, though there's something unsavoury about his arrival at Cardiff being part of the ongoing, ever-rolling drama at Eastlands.

    As for Gazza at Boro, 'sad testimony' is right. One of the poorer aspects of his arrival was the way he effectively nudged Craig Hignett out of the side, which seemed a shabby way to treat a fone club servant. Not Gazza's fault obviously, but it was a little heartbreaking to see someone publicly fall apart during his time at the club.

  2. Lloyd
    August 18, 2010

    And what of Taribo West to Plymouth?

  3. Lanterne Rouge
    August 18, 2010

    Of course Taribo is up there with The Messiah, Bestie and Gazza in fame terms – sorry to miss him out.

  4. Stanley
    August 18, 2010

    It's interesting to note that most of these outlandish signings end in relative failure (Keegan, excepted).

    Cardiff fans will hope that Bellamy's stint doesn't follow the narrative of Sergei Yuran's move to Millwall, which would have been comical had I not been watching in horror from the stands. Yuran arrived in 1996, in a statement of ambition/foolhardiness by then chairman Peter Mead, having played for Russia at the previous summer's World Cup and having scored for Spartak against Blackburn Rovers in that season's Champions League. Needless to say, he departed with more drink-driving convictions than goals, and the Lions were relegated to the third tier. The cost of ambition can be steep.

  5. Ben
    August 18, 2010

    Edgar Davids to Crystal Palace, anyone?

    It seems they've looked at Cardiff, another side in dire financial straits, and thought 'We can top that…'.

  6. Lanterne Rouge
    August 18, 2010

    What next? Ronaldinho to Edgeley Park?

  7. scarf
    August 18, 2010

    Ronaldinho? A pale imitation of John Hardiker, I'm sure…

  8. Lloyd
    August 19, 2010

    I wonder if Jon Walters has moved up to Stoke in order to even things up? We take a Premiership player, they take a Championship player, like.


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