Fixtures and results so far
Meek's football cliches
Think of a number competition
Charts and graphics
CA man of the match
CA un-man of the match
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
2006-07 player profiles: Ciaran Toner
31 July 2006
Saturday 22 January 2005. A day not yet forgotten. A day rivals Lincoln embarrassed the Mariners on their own turf and the day Grimsby fans first met Ciaran Toner. He politely introduced himself with a well-taken fourth goal for the visitors, neatly controlling the ball on the edge of the area before firing low into the bottom corner.
Little did anyone know that in less then seven months he would have been released by the Imps under a larger than average cloud after an alleged racist bust-up with team-mate Marcus Richardson and then become one of Russell Slade's final summer signings.
Weeks later Toner had won the admiration of many with skilful attacking displays, an eye for a pass and the occasional spectacular strike (most noticeably against his old club at Blundell Park). Months later he'd lost his central midfield place to a more heavyweight Curtis Woodhouse (pardon the pun) and then made little more than cameo appearances. A year later he's been given the coveted number 10 shirt and, under new management, a final chance to prove his undoubted potential.
Now 26 years old, Toner was born in Craigavon in 1981. After progressing through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspur he was eventually released without making a first-team appearance and began his trail of the lower divisons. Peterborough, Bristol Rovers, Leyton Orient and Cambridge United have all at some point put a roof over the midfielder's head, and somewhere in all that he also made eight under-21 appearances for Northern Ireland and collected two senior caps as a substitute against Italy and Spain. Which ain't bad, I suppose.
The 2006–07 season could prove one of the most crucial in Toner's career. Inconsistency, controversy, injury and a car crash have halted any sort of progress up until now, but played in the correct position and given the freedom to drift, create, link and attack, he may well blossom into the player many think he should already be by now. Having said that, another less than convincing six months could well see him back on the road come January.
Already being a fan of Ciaran Toner myself, I really do hope he can answer critics this season and knuckle down. Never has the phrase 'make or break' appeared to have such meaning.