The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Flaws for thought

27 March 2019

The signing of John Welsh was always a risky one. As Thunderdiary pointed out in August, Welsh had played in only nine league games last season and it was obvious even in those early run-outs that his lack of match action was taking its toll.

Dig a little deeper and Welsh started just five games in 2017-18, six the previous season, and 13 the one before that. It was when he tackled his way to promotion for Preston in the third-flight play-offs of 2015 that Welsh last had a substantial impact across a season, starting 30 times.

Welsh was signed to much fanfare, and certainly fans of his previous clubs were quick to assert that we’d made a decent signing both as a player and a person. His playing credentials were flawed, however – his nine starts this season contributing only five points. The 30 games he didn't start have added 44 points. On average, that's nearly a point per game more, although they did include cameos against Tranmere, when he had an assist for Town's fifth goal, and the unmentionables, when he put in a strong last-minute tackle.

It was no real surprise that both player and club cut their losses last week. Welsh was reported to be Town’s highest earner, the rumours suggesting £2.5k a week and a negative impact on the rest of the players. If Welsh was not fit enough to play then it seemed a waste of money.

We now know there was a little bit more to it, with Welsh yesterday convicted for grievous bodily harm. The fact that his attack on a 57-year-old woman – peppered with shouts of "I can do what I want" and "Don’t you know who I am?" – only ended in a suspended sentence was down to the charity work those PNE fans were quick to champion during the summer.

Did Town know about this attack when they signed him? I hope not. If they did, I trust they were led to believe there was nothing to worry about. When it became clear that there was an issue, it seems the club acted with alacrity. In the last couple of weeks the official line on his absence changed. After a period when Welsh was said to be injured, Michael Jolley stated in the last couple of weeks only that the player was "not available". It says a lot that the club have kept their powder dry with the whole situation. I’m sure Jolley feels let down behind the scenes.

In January, I wrote that it felt as if Welsh was surplus to requirements. This was based on the effect he was having on the pitch. The flaws off it mean he certainly will not be missed.