Non-League Nigel – Part One Saul Deeney
It has been a long time since the Rams have signed players from non-league football. Malcolm Christie is the most obvious example in recent years although that was over a decade ago now. Before that we are looking at the likes of Phil Gee, Martin Taylor, Kevin Francis and Martyn Chalk. Nigel Clough spectacularly reversed this trend in the 2009/10 season with the triple signing of Saul Deeney, Jake Buxton and Ben Pringle.
Non-league players have been unfashionable for years but now, with the likes of Chris Smalling, Alex Baptiste and George Boyd all doing well, the stigma appears to be diminishing. Nigel Clough has taken some criticism for his non-league triple swoop so in this three part article, we take a look at the success, or otherwise, of the signings.
No.1 Saul Deeney
During Burton Albion’s promotion season to the football league, Deeney often found himself
playing second fiddle to the almost pensionable Kevin Poole. It is fair to say that a few eye-brows were raised when Deeney joined the Rams. The first and most important point to note is that non-league goalkeepers are still fully competent goalkeepers. It is not “the man in the street” playing in goal. Think of any FA Cup tie featuring a non-league side and you will not recall a non-league goalie routinely letting the ball through his legs or being unable to catch. Witness Forest’s reserve ‘keeper of 2008/9 Paddy Gamble making the reverse journey from the Championship to the Blue Square Conference (North division in fact, to Alfreton, a division below the Conference) to realise how narrow the margins can be.
With this in mind, the logic of the signing becomes clearer. A decent Conference goalkeeper is more than capable of handling the role of Championship deputy. The role being the occasional part game in the event of an injury or sending-off and maybe a couple of games as a consequence of either situation. Anything longer, then the option is there to sign a ‘keeper on loan. If we assume a good goalkeeper is worth 10 points a season at most, the impact over 2-3 games is minimal. Certainly on the brief evidence of Deeney’s end of season performances, he didn’t look out of place.
Deeney would also have benefited from the increased quality on the training ground, as well as being re-united with Martin Taylor. Robbie Savage has made a point of highlighting Taylor’s top-flight experience to Radio Derby but more significantly, Taylor shared a training ground with Shilts for many years.
Good value compared to….
Roy Carroll. Carroll was offered a new contract at Man Utd. but neglected it to sign for West Ham. He then signed fro Rangers before joining the Rams in the Premier League. His
wages would definitely have been in five figures per week during this time and I wouldn’t have expected him to join Derby for peanuts. Deeney in contrast was without a club and had a far less impressive CV. The change of benchwarmer would have saved the Rams hundreds of thousands of pounds over the year (although reduced by Carrolls pay off).