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: Justin Whittle
28 July 2006
Justin Whittle may have a forename that is more hairdresser than professional footballer, but don't let that fool you into thinking our Justin is some kind of nancy boy. Far from it, in fact. He's a tough ex-army lad, I'll have you know, and one who was keen to prove how hard he is by 'doing' Alan Shearer in the televised League Cup tie against Newcastle United last season. And not only did he manage to stick on one the ex-England striker: he managed to do it in full view of the cameras and get away with it, which means we were treated to endless replays of the incident on Sky Sports. Throw in Shearer's post-match interview, during which he almost cried like a little girl because elbowing people in the face was his party trick and he didn't like lower-league defenders copying him, and you'll see why Whittle has become a bit of a folk hero in North East Lincs.
As I'm sure you know, Whittle is getting on a bit now. He'll be 36 before the season's out so I think we can reasonably expect him to end his career with us. But with age comes experience and that's something the big lad will need in spades during the forthcoming season. OK, in an ideal world he will have Macca on one flank and Crofty on the other to steady that backline somewhat, but it's quite likely that he will have to make do with Newey at left-back on more than one occasion. The new season sees Whitts take to the field without Rob Jones - his regular playing partner from last season - who has buggered off to Hibernian for an undisclosed fee of around £150,000 so we are likely to see equally lanky Ben Futcher line up in the centre of defence alongside this fella. Hopefully Whittle will get a little confused and do Futcher in the same way he did that pesky Geordie fella.
Whittle's no-nonsense approach to defence is maybe borne partly out of his lack of pace. He has solid positioning and awareness though, and doesn't need to bring the ball down and carry it out of the back four. He's a very physical player but one who picks up few bookings really. In short, he's an ideal fourth division centre-back: big, strong and not afraid to get in the way of the ball.
Age has taken it's toll on Whittle and he has suffered a few injuries which have kept him out the side for a bit. Back when we had Rob Jones this wasn't a major disaster, but now that the Stick has gone we will really miss Whittle if he's on the treatment table. With Futcher looking shaky at times and no other experienced centre-backs on the books I think we will be susceptible to the high ball down the middle. It'll be left to Whittle to further the education of the young lads he plays alongside, especially the likes of Miles Chamberlain, who will need to learn quickly if Town are to retain any solidity at the back. Justin Whittle is old school in more ways than one but it's time to turn teacher and show the next generation of Grimsby defenders how the game should be played.