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Slipped Through the Net: John Oster

By: Dan Humphrey
Date: 30/01/2001

In the second in the series "Slipped Through The Net", Dan Humphrey takes a look at former Grimsby players still plying their trade elsewhere within the game. This week Dan takes a look at John Oster, who he thinks may be the most talented player he has EVER seen play for Grimsby Town.

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When Brian Laws was sacked, and Kenny Swain took over for the remainder of the 1996-97 season, one of his first acts was to play Oster, and suddenly results improved!

John Oster's Career
ClubWhenApp'sGoalsFee
Sunderland08/99-10(13)1£1m
Everton08/97-08/9928(22)3£1.5m
Grimsby08/94-08/9721(4)4Trainee

Obviously Oster wasn't the sole reason, (new manager, new system etc.) but he certainly played his part.The scouts flocked to Blundell Park, and the youngster was suddenly hot property.

When Brian Laws was sacked, and Kenny Swain took over for the remainder of the 1996-97 season, one of his first acts was to play Oster, and suddenly results improved! Obviously Oster wasn't the sole reason, (new manager, new system etc.) but he certainly played his part.The scouts flocked to Blundell Park, and the youngster was suddenly hot property.

Oster in Everton days When Alan Buckley returned the following summer, he thought it made sense to sell the kid, who only ever played 20 odd games for the Mariners. After all a great squad rebuilding exercise was required. Everton made an acceptable bid, with an upfront payment and more after x y and z appearances. It was accepted and Oster moved to Merseyside (left), for a sum around £1million. Meanwhile Buckley spent the money on Kevin Donovan, Lee Nogan and Paul Groves.

I saw Oster play for the Toffees a few times - notably at the Reebok Stadium where he was SKY's man of the match, repeatedly embarrassing Jimmy Phillips the Bolton right back. His future looked good (Oster's, not Phillips'). Then the ex-Mariner curse struck. Perhaps it was the management of Howard Kendall which led to Oster's eventual departure from Goodison. After all, it was Kendall who signed the winger and hardly played him on the wing! Oster played surprisingly often under Kendall, especially considering his age and lack of physical presence.

In a 5-3-2 system, John played as a third midfielder or a wing back. Not very shrewd of Kendall, since Oster's tackling was not exactly Premiership standard. Once or twice he was employed as a striker playing off the man mountain Duncan Ferguson, which was amusing and ineffective - one being about one foot taller and 6 stone heavier than the other!

Oster in Sunderland days Oster was sold to Sunderland (left) when Walter Smith replaced Kendall, and has been since nurtured by Peter Reid, appearing mainly in Cup ties or as a substitute. But he is still young, and also benefits from being part of the Wales set-up, where he trains alongside Ryan Giggs and company.

One to watch? Certainly, especially when you consider this young lad from Skegness is in the 2nd best performing squad this season, and although barely into his 20s, he is already a full international with 2 7-figure fee transfer moves to his name.

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