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My time at…Walsall

My short spell at Walsall turned out to be a bit of a non-event to be perfectly honest. I joined on loan over the Christmas period in 1999. I had left Holland for the two week winter break and was due back in Holland in January. I was looking forward to my first Christmas off as a footballer. It was something of a novelty and I raced back to England as soon as I could.

Earlier in December I had travelled to Walsall for a trial match for the loan period. I had never heard of a trial match for a loan but I was so desperate to leave Holland that I was up for it. I flew from Amsterdam Airport early in the morning into Birmingham. I then lined up in an 11-a-side match between the first team and reserve team at The Bescott later that day before flying back to Holland to be home for supper.

Walsall were in the second tier at the time. They were struggling a little bit and needed some new players. I played very well in the trial match. I really was fired up for it because I knew it represented an opportunity to be back in England.

I heard nothing for a couple of weeks and had thought it wasn’t going to happen as the Christmas break began. I didn’t know at the time that they were negotiating over a loan fee that Utrecht insisted on. I heard it was £30,000 but am not 100%. It was something out of my control so couldn’t do too much about it. . I actually received a call on Boxing Day to say that all had been agreed between the two clubs.

There was a match at home to Bolton Wanderers who were flying high under Sam Allardyce.  It came as such a shock. I hadn’t done anything since 18th December and had enjoyed my time off, if you know what I mean, so I really wasn’t prepared at all. I trained with the squad the day before and managed to play for about an hour before blowing up. I started the following match at home to Sheffield United. I was awful. I think it was the worst game of my career. Every decision I made was a wrong one. I was replaced at half time by Mark Robins who went on and scored the winner. He told me after the game that he was told that he would be on at half time from 20 minutes into the match. That’s how bad I was.

And that was that really. There were a few reserve matches in there and the odd first team substitute appearance. As deadline day approached Ray Graydon offered me the chance to ‘play in someone’s first team’. Although I wanted to play he didn’t run a particularly happy ship. If I hadn’t been sub-loaned to Northampton then I would not even have been on the bench for the first team so a good decision to move on.

To be fair Walsall looked after me. They rented a house for me and the family and moved all of our furniture over from Holland. It just didnt work out.

I would like to say thank you to the sponsors of this blog: JJB SPORTS who have a 3 for 2 offer.

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