Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Aidan Davison Interview
By: Richard Lord
IN an exclusive interview as part of The Fishy's new "Slipped Through the Net" series, Richard Lord caught up with Aidan Davison to talk about his time at Blundell Park.
From the number of clubs you've played for, could it be considered that you are a bit of a journeyman?
There's no question about that!
Why is that?
It's simple: The more moves you get the more money you make.
How much of a part did you play in Bradford's survival back in 1997 that ironically condemned Grimsby to relegation that season?
I played the last ten games, so I would say significant because when I went Bradford were bottom of the league with ten games to go. I played my part.
So what happened during that summer?
I spoke to Chris Kamara and he offered me terms, which were not acceptable. I was a free agent because I had a written clause in my contract at Bolton, and then I went to Grimsby in the summer.
What tempted you to sign for Grimsby?
I looked at the overall picture. I looked at the players he had at the club, I looked at playing regular first team football and I thought they had a good chance of getting out of the division.
Where there any targets for that season?
Because we got relegated in the last season it wasn't something we talked about openly. We felt, as a unit, that we were good enough to get out of the division.
Was there a point in the season where you felt promotion was a real possibility?
That was a busy season because we were doing well in the cups so the games came thick and fast. You didn't have a lot of time to reflect and look at setting targets. You played a Saturday and then a Tuesday, and then a Saturday and then a Tuesday, so you just got on with it. It kind of fell into place, really.
Are there any particular games that stick out?
I'd still have to say the Play-Off final because there was a lot resting on it and your whole season hinges on the one game. You're either a hero or a villain and fans can be either ecstatic or devastated. That was huge.
No Man of the Match performances to remember?
To be honest I get more satisfaction out of the team winning, not necessarily me being busy. You can't win anything with individuals.
You kept a club record of over 30 clean sheets.
It's not just down to the keeper, it's down to more than that. It's down to front men as well because if you're going to keep clean sheets you've got to defend as a team. That starts with the front men.
We had a settled back four that season. How important is that?
That's the key, as we've found at Bradford this season that we have a lot of people who are injured so you've got personnel changing, and even though the lads that come in know the way you're playing, there's nothing like having a settled back four and a keeper week in, week out.
You've mentioned the Play-Off win at Wembley, what about the Auto Windscreen Shield final?
For me that was something we didn't expect. Things fell into place, we did really well and we find that we end up at Wembley. That was just the fans' day out. There wasn't much emphasis on winning - of course you want to win - but it just happened. I don't think everyone had completely geared up for that, in the same sense as we did for the Play-Off game.
What did you do when Wayne Burnett scored the winner, and when the final whistle blew in the Play-Off game against Northampton?
What I tend to think of at those moments is the losing team because they just trudge off and that's the end of it. It's a weird feeling because you end up taking into consideration how they must be feeling. I remember shaking hands with a few of them then all of a sudden the euphoria grabs hold of you. It's a wonderful feeling after the game when you know you've done your job and you've done it well and achieved what you set out to do. There's nothing better than sitting in the dressing room after the game, with a glass of champagne and you look around and see your team mates and feel respect.
How did you fit in off the pitch?
It was a tight unit. At the time of playing for Grimsby, all the wives and family were based over there and it felt tighter - socially, whereas here at Bradford you have guys that live in Manchester and Wigan, all spread out. At Grimsby you're kind of isolated so you either live there or you don't. Most people socialised together.
Your second season at the club was a big success. What did you put that down to?
The team unit, again. After being together and playing together from the previous season over so many games, that we knew each other's play. Tactically, we played the same way, week in, week out and we wouldn't deviate. If we played against a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 we wouldn't deviate.
What happened at the end of that season because we didn't see much of you from March onwards.
It's black and white. There's no hidden agenda, I was offered a contract, it wasn't acceptable so I refused to sign it - simple as that. There was nothing sinister, it was a case of 'no good' and I actually got a thumb injury, which I played with and I didn't do myself any justice - I probably had two games where I cost the side possibly four goals, Crystal Palace especially - so that didn't help me or the team.
Did you go to the matches even when it looked like you wouldn't play for the club again?
Initially I went to the games. The manager at the time was under the impression that I had arranged a club because I was on a Bosman but actually I hadn't. I didn't have a club lined up to go to, which was evident because I didn't sign for Sheffield United until late July. I was still focussed at Grimsby and went into the summer with an open mind, waiting for things to happen.
Any outstanding memories of the club as a whole?
It did go slightly sour towards the end but that's probably down to myself and the manager. We didn't communicate but it takes two to tango. The whole two years while I was there I enjoyed. Socially there are some great guys there. I have fond memories of two successful years.
How long were you at Sheffield United for?
I signed a two year deal but I was only there for six months. Adrian Heath took me there but he was only there for a short time before Neil Warnock came in. Bradford came in for me on loan - they were in the Premier League at the time - so I couldn't really refuse.
Where did you see Grimsby heading after your departure?
I think we could have gone on to do more but I don't think that the manager really realised how good a unit we were and then he lost players like Lee Nogan who, for me, did a job that was absolutely remarkable. The way he wanted us to play was with a striker who would come deep to receive the ball and he set everybody else up. That year, Paul Groves scored goals from midfield because of Lee Nogan's work dropping off. For him to leave the club I thought it just told a story. It was a thankless task that Lee had. I would have liked everyone to have stayed because I felt we could have gone on to greater things.
So you feel that it everyone had stuck together, Town would have done better the following season?
I believe so, yes. That's how I feel.
Did being at Town help your international career?
There was conflict. I believe I was called up for an international match and it conflicted with a game at Fulham. I did speak to the Irish FA and they said I needed to go on the international trip. At the end of the day I missed a Grimsby game and it cost me my place in the team, which I put down to the management but that's another story. That's the price I paid for wanting the club to do well.
You were replaced by Danny Coyne when you left. Do you know Danny at all?
I do indeed. Danny's a good guy and he's a solid pro and he's done a fantastic job in my eyes. What's he been there, three years? I know how dedicated he is and he's helped them stay up - and that's a feat in itself with the economic problems that the manager's got.
What did you think of the Town fans while you were at the club?
I had a good relationship with them. They're pretty honest but at the same time we had two good years so they were always pretty positive. They were always good to me and I don't have a problem with them.
Did you ever make any embarrassing mistakes that you feel like telling us about?
One of my first games for Grimsby was down at Plymouth, but I think I let one through my legs. I thought at the time "that's not a good start" but I recovered from that. That's the one that stands out.
Perhaps I can prompt you. Luton away?
Luton, Luton, Luton.. What happened there?
We drew 2-2 after taking a 2-0 lead and their equaliser was headed down through your legs.
You know what? I don't remember that. I have quite a think skin because I have dropped a few boo-boos in my time, but I need to have a little look at that one. You've jogged my memory there but I'm going to have to pull the video out and have a look at it. You're probably right. If I did, I apologise to all the fans!
I can't remember you facing too many penalties at the club. What's your penalty-saving record like?
It's funny you should say that because at Bradford we've had loads against us this season and I've not saved one. Steve Banks came to the club and he saved three in three consecutive games so I'm under a bit of pressure. I had one on Saturday (Rotherham away) and I dived the wrong way.
You did save a Dean Saunders penalty in the League Cup for Grimsby.
Oh, that's right. I think it kind of hit me rather than it being a great save - that sounds more like it.
What do you think you brought to the Town side?
I'd probably say stability. At that time I felt good about my game. I don't make great saves, I try to keep things simple and that's my strength.
It was rumoured during last summer that you were close to re-signing for Town after Coyne had been put on the transfer list. Any truth in that?
I don't actually know. I read that somewhere. it was probably in relation to the administration situation at Bradford. I also read about Cardiff and Blackpool. There wasn't much truth in that. I never got to the stage where I was speaking to anybody.
Generally, are there any teams or bogie players that put one past you? Similarly, do you always have good games and make great saves against certain teams or players?
No, nothing jumps out. I mean, you get the odd game where you concede half a dozen but that doesn't happen too frequently either.
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from the club?
Kev Donovan lives just down the road from me, but I bump into quite a few people. Paul Groves, now and again, Jack Lester's floating about, I bump into him every so often.
Be careful, don't bump into him or else he might go down diving.
Yeah, he tends to do that, he falls over easily doesn't he? But again, he did well for the club.
Next: Aidan Davison Fans Piece
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- Slipped Through the Net
- Slipped Through the Net: Aidan Davison
- Slipped Through the Net: Michael Boulding
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