Cod Almighty | Article
by Pete Green
28 July 2005
At the beginning of last season, when Simon Ramsden was in the team, Town were good. Then when he got injured and he wasn't playing, Town were rubbish. Don't worry, we said to each other, it's just because Ramsden isn't in the team. We'll be good again when he comes back. Then he came back, and Town were still rubbish.
It wasn't his fault, though. As the only man who can play in Russell Slade's back three and really pass a ball, Ramsden has, since his arrival in 2004 on a cautious one-year contract, taken on a totemic value for the Blundell Park faithful above and beyond his actual playing ability. Town fans' dwindling hopes of seeing a bit of proper football again in their lifetimes depended in part, in the summer of 2005, upon the manager offering the former Sunderland defender new terms to stay at BP. This he did, to much relief – but only for another 12 months.
In these post-Buckley years of target men and strapping centre-halves, then, the tale of the tape casts Simon, at a mere six foot and no inches, as the little man of the team's back line. Unless it's being used in an ironic sense, 'Rambo' is a nickname that would be more fittingly applied to any other central defender in Town's squad. Ramsden looks like the sort of lad you and I might sit down and have a pint with. Justin Whittle, Rob Jones and Tony Crane look more like the sort of lads who would turn you, me and Simon away at the door for wearing the wrong sort of shoes.
Not that an eye for a pass is the only aspect of his game that will be vital to Town's 2005–06 campaign. Ramsden's fleetness of foot will be relied upon heavily by a defence that is not otherwise notable for its pace now that Terrell Forbes has served out his moral duty to the Mariners and earned the right to bugger off somewhere better.
So he can't play right wing-back. He certainly can't play left wing-back. Injuries wiped out half of his first season with GTFC, and at the time of writing he he has limped out of Town's 2005 pre-season programme with a strained arse. But by giving the side the option of routes two, three, four and five, Ramsden plays an important role both tactically and symbolically at a time when fans are increasingly alienated by their team's rudimentary approach. We only hope he'll be allowed to keep playing it beyond 2006.