The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

And the Amond tree blossomed... in South Wales

8 November 2019

Tomorrow, and next Saturday, the Mariners will face Newport County. The fixtures serve as two reminders of what we once had, and what we lost — well, what we practically gave away. Sometimes I wake up in the night and wonder if it was all a dream. Did we really have a striker on our books who scored 37 goals in a season? And then did we just, you know, let him go? For nothing?

Your West Yorkshire Diary doesn’t want to rake over old sores, but not bothering to even try and keep Amond — after all the goals he scored for us in that promotion season — ranks as one of the single worst decisions this club has made in modern times. Clearly, it irks me greatly (as I'm sure it does for countless others).

We should all move on, of course, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to do that when you look across and see that Amond continues to bang in the goals for a team whose wage budget, I’d imagine, isn’t radically different from ours.

As we all know, 37-goal strikers are hard to come by. That’s why you’d move heaven and earth to keep a player of that undoubted calibre. Omar Bogle’s 19 goals in the first half of 2016-17 covered, to some degree, the hole we created for ourselves. But when Bogle was sold to Wigan for what was rumoured to be £1m, that was the end of our attacking prowess. We haven’t come close to replacing those goals, and we’ve consistently been short of quality in attack ever since.

Wes Thomas — by far and away our only goal threat last season — scored 12 goals in 40 appearances. We wonder what our season would’ve been like without his goals and yet that total is less than a third of what Amond achieved in one season.

Think back to the season before, when Russell Slade took us to the brink of non-League. Our top scorer? Mitch Rose with eight. I think six of them were penalties.

Sam Jones, who wasn’t even an out-and-out striker, scored at a decent rate towards the end of the 2016-17 season and left in January 2018 with a total of 13 goals to his name from 45 appearances. Beyond that, you’ve basically got nothing of any note — and this is our fifth season back in the Football League.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but you needed barely an ounce of football intelligence or foresight to know that not fighting for Amond was stupid at best and downright irresponsible at worst.

After a couple of good cup runs in the last few seasons, Newport have stabilised under the assured guidance of Michael Flynn. He’s a manager who’s often linked to vacancies at clubs in higher leagues and it’s not surprising given what he’s achieved since taking over at the club he started his playing career at.

It seems a good fit and, after just missing out on promotion last season (when they were denied by another ex-striker from our non-League days) they look set once again to push for the play-offs. With Amond up front, they have every chance. He's already their top scorer with six (one more than James Hanson) and they've lost just three times, conceding less than a goal a game.

The Mariners have met this incarnation of Newport 14 times and, if you remove the two play-off semi-finals we lost to them at the end of the 2012-13 season, our record is 4-4-4. Given our terrible record at Rodney Parade, where we’ve scored just once and never won in six attempts, you’d expect our record to be decent at Blundell Park — and you’d be right. That’s where those four victories have occurred, including last season's 3-0 win in which Jordan Cook scored twice.

Incidentally, Newport were just bobbing around in mid-table when they lost to us in early February, but that defeat appeared to spark them into life and they then went on a run that saw them storm into the play-offs and almost snatch promotion from out of nowhere.

Well, when you’ve got a player up front who carries such a constant goal threat, you’re never out of a game, or a season. If there’s something for us to gain from Amond lining up against us tomorrow, it’ll be Mattie Pollock’s development. UTM!