The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - Dar­ryl Fla­ha­van VET­ERAN KEEPER GIVES HIS VIEWS

WHEN I left Bournem outh in the sum­mer, I thought I’d be fine. OK, so I’m 37. But I’ve played more than 450 games, hardly been in­jured and I’m still in good shape.

In fact, I found it very, very tough and, in the end, I wasn’t signed by Craw­ley un­til the middle of Oc­to­ber. Now, I’m out of con­tract again.

I wasn’t alone. I spoke to a lot of very good, very ex­pe­ri­enced keep­ers who couldn’t find clubs will­ing to take them on. Some of them are still search­ing.

The rea­son? More and more th­ese days, clubs in League One and Two are get­ting young kids on loan from the Premier League.

So far this sea­son, 22 dif­fer­ent goal­keep­ers have played in Leagues One and Two on loan from clubs in the top two divi­sions – some of them for two teams. One club has had five dif­fer­ent keep­ers.


Th­ese big sides will give you th­ese play­ers for next to no money. They say ‘We want this lad to play ev­ery game for his de­vel­op­ment and, if you do that, we’ll pay his wages’.

From the club’s point of view, I un­der­stand that. At that level, money is tight and, if you speak to the man­ager or chair­man, he’ll prob­a­bly say ‘This is how I man­age the bud­get’.

But their cost-cut­ting is leav­ing good peo­ple out of work and means peo­ple with fam­i­lies and mort­gages are wor­ry­ing about their fu­ture. I know a lot of older guys who are se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing quit­ting the game.

You might ar­gue that loans are a part of the game, so why should keep­ers get spe­cial treat­ment? But re­mem­ber, other play­ers have ten places to fight for.We have just one.

That’s why I be­lieve the Foot­ball League should stip­u­late you start the sea­son with your own con­tracted goal­keeper. If things go wrong, through in­jury or sus­pen­sion, then by all means go out and get a young­ster in. But we should never have a sit­u­a­tion where a club don’t have a recog­nised No.1 on their own pay­roll. In a sim­i­lar vein, I’d like see more home-grown lads get a chance in the Premier League. I watch some of the goal­keep­ers up there and are they bet­ter than guys like David Mar­shall and Keiren West­wood? I don’t think so.

Mar­shall has won in­ter­na­tional caps, played in the Premier League with Cardiff and had a fan­tas­tic sea­son there. He shouldn’t be at this level. West­wood has proved time and again with Sh­effield Wed­nes­day that he de­serves an­other chance af­ter that mis­step with Sun­der­land.


But, for some rea­son, clubs at the top favour for­eign play­ers. Again, maybe that’s just the mar­ket. Maybe clubs charge top dol­lar for a Bri­tish keeper and man­agers feel they can get a bet­ter bar­gain abroad.

Maybe they think the fans will be more ex­cited by a guy from Croa­tia than a bloke from the Cham­pi­onship. But I see plenty of peo­ple in the Premier League who, in my opin­ion, sim­ply aren’t good enough.

I’ve even heard sto­ries about clubs buy­ing keep­ers purely on sta­tis­tics. One very big club ran an anal­y­sis and dis­cov­ered the ma­jor­ity of goals were con­ceded in the 18yard box. I think I could have told them that! But, purely on that ba­sis, they went out and signed the keeper with the best saves-to-shots ra­tio in­side the box.

What­ever the case, it’s very frus­trat­ing. Be­cause I bet those lads would do a bet­ter job than some of the peo­ple there right now.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

UN­DER-RATED: David Mar­shall punches the ball clear for Cardiff against Derby

CON­SIS­TENT: Keiren West­wood

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