IN THE SECOND of his series evaluating the pluses and minuses that came from last season Paul Holmes turns his attention to the defence, an area of constant change and experimentation by Grimsby manager Lennie Lawrence, after years of 4-4-2 every week.
The ever reliable right back once again was one of the key players for the Mariners. Despite his injury problems, 'Macca' was still for my money, one of the best defenders in Division 1. Supported attack on occasions but many felt he should score more goals. After much delay, due to postponed games, the 32-year-old veteran equalled (at Sheff Utd) and subsequently broke the league appearance record for Town, previously set by Keith Jobling. Loyal servant to the club and is definitely a legend.
Moment of the Season: Breaking the appearance record.
Disappointing season for the youngster who switched between midfield and defence all season. Butterfield, who was rumoured to be a target for Sheffield Wednesday and others, never got into the stride that the previous season produced. Saved his best till last, when played just in front of the back four. Reveled in the role against high profile teams like Fulham and Blackburn. Out of contract in the summer, although Town will get a fee due to his age if he leaves the club.
Moment of the Season: Long range goal against Burnley.
Often made scapegoat by both club and fans. At times he plays brilliantly but others disastrously. A very left-footed player who is more renowned for his drinking prowess and 'lad' image rather than his playing ability. Struggled to hold down his place after competition from Knut Anders Fostervold and Dave Smith. Despite this, put in some very solid performances in the latter part of the season. Often exposed by pacey wingers though. Out of contract in the summer and was reported to be a target for Port Vale, but the Cumbrian has since signed a one year deal with Town.
Moment of the Season: Long range (deflected goal) against Wolves.
Knut Anders Fostervold
Huge Norwegian who Lennie Lawrence told us was the "5th best left back in Norway". Loaned from Molde in October and could play at centre back in emergency. At times it defied belief how he was in the team as all except Lawrence could see he was not up to the job. No-one could ever fault his effort but he never really settled into the pace of the English game. Amazingly Lawrence was prepared to pay around £200k for his services!
Moment of the Season: Ermmm getting his head shaved!
Tough tackling defender who will want to forget this season in a hurry. Failed to impress Lennie Lawrence enough to merit a first team place. Featured in the freak accident which resulted in Scunthorpe's young winger Peter Morrison suffering a year long lay-off. Ended the year with a dislocated shoulder. Released by the club in early May.
Moment of the Season: Not a good year at all for Ben.
Many fans image of Raven will be him stranded while Jon Macken speeds round him to score Preston's second on the opening day. Lack's pace and is not as naturally gifted as Richard Smith or Peter Handyside but coming in as a replacement for Mark Lever can not have been easy. Lengthy injuries kept him out for most of the season. Came back for the final two games against Fulham and Birmingham, in which the former Baggie impressed.
Moment of the Season: Returning for the final games and proving himself.
Fan favourite who was kept out by a combination of the arrival of Zhang Enhua and another injury-prone season. When he did play his class showed, none more so than against West Brom. Ironically the former Under-21 Scottish international at one stage rumoured to be set join West Brom in the summer on a Bosman. Will be a great loss to the club, however one could also feel cheated if Handyside rejects offers to stay at Town, after the club stood by him through two serious injuries.
Moment of the Season: Superb performance against WBA were he had Lee Hughes in his pocket all game.
Once again injuries got the better of Smith and he spent most season in the company of Paul Mitchell. Made a surprise return against Tranmere and scored his first Mariners goal, days later, in the 2-2 draw against Wimbledon. Out of contract and has been offered a month-to-month deal.
Moment of the Season: Scoring his first Town goal against Wimbledon.
Chinese International captain who sparked a media frenzy upon his arrival in December on loan from Dalian Shide. Whilst scoring vital goals against Burnley, Bolton and Wimbledon. His defensive capabilities had to be questioned. Allegedly on £12,000 a week. Maybe those goals kept us up but either way he was a very expensive player. Became a target for Crystal Palace whilst here. Lennie Lawrence has stated that he hopes to take him on loan again next year. Very few people can see this actually happening.
Moment of the Season: Scoring his first ever goal in English football against Burnley.
Club Captain who was moved from Midfield to Centre back for the whole season, having filled in occasionally before. Was not a hit at first but gradually fitted in, yet still one feels his best work belongs in the middle of the park. Scored the final goal of the season against Fulham. Set to sign a new contract despite rumours that he is set to join former boss Alan Buckley at Lincoln City.
Moment of the Season: Scoring the vital winner against Fulham on the final day of the season.
Talented youngster who was finally given his chance this season. Looked comfortable yet was made a scapegoat in the away Fulham defeat. Has been released by the club and has been signed by Hull City. Don't be surprised if Town are left to regret releasing Bloomer in a few years time.
Moment of the Season: Finally getting his big chance.
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