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Player Database: Peter Handyside
By: Richard Hubbert
|Peter Handyside||1992/93-2000/01||234 (12)||4 goals|
Some people make the very bad joke that Handyside was a "Handy" player. But to say he was handy is actually knocking the guy a bit, because along with Paul Futcher he is the best centre half Town have had for years. On the ball, he was immense and his calmness under pressure oozed coolness throughout the team. His partnership with Mark Lever in the 1998 season was perfect - a combination of skill and guile.
From the start he was a class act. I started watching Town in 1992 and I simply wouldn't have guessed that this guy was merely 19 years old. He was a young player, but to say that he had an old head on his shoulders would be an understatement. He won under 21 caps for Scotland, his homeland, and few expected to see him at Town for much longer.
However, it was his injuries that held him back from progressing and also (in my opinion) Brian Laws. At the start of the 1996/97 season, at just 22 he was made captain. Even in the 9 games he played, he was not the same player and in his last game he scored an own goal and got injured - an injury which kept him out for the whole season. The responsibility and pressure of club captain at that age with experienced pros like Livingstone, Woods, Mendonca, Childs, Widdrington, Shakespeare, McDermott and Rodger around him was immense and I believe it got to him. This held him back a year, but his talent was never doubted and he of course went on to be a huge part in the double 1998 Wembley success and Town's consolidation of division one status in 1998/99.
He came back from another horrendous injury in 2000, to still look just as good as before, but this time it was Lennie Lawrence holding him back. Lawrence preferred Chinese defender Zhang Enhua (on Â£13,000 a week) to Handyside and Peter did not like it. 19 appearances in the 2000/01 season when he was fit for most of the time was understandably not good enough for a player of his quality nor beneficial enough for Grimsby Town. It was no coincidence that Town's best run at the end of the season when they won 3 games in a row, came when Handyside was in the team and Enhua back in China.
Understandably, Peter left Town but surprisingly joined a division two club, Stoke City, a gamble which paid off when Stoke won in the Play Offs in 2001/02. Next season he will be back at Town and in the first division - where he belongs and he undoubtedly deserves a warm reception for his service to the club from the fans.
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