CRITICS of football’s loan market are many, and I have been one of them when a team lends a player to a club in the same division, but heavily subsidises their wages.
See Emmanuel Adebayor’s spell at Tottenham last year, when Manchester City were still paying him a six-figure sum each week to beat other teams in competition with them, but sit helplessly on the sidelines when the parent and loaning club met.
It happens in Non-League, too, but two goals on FA Cup first round weekend underlined for me the importance of the loan system when used in the correct manner.
I travelled down to Dorset on Sunday to see Dorchester beat Plymouth Argyle 1-0 in a West Country derby.
The winning goal was scored soon after half-time by Jake Gosling, a 19-year-old left-footer who caused the Pilgrims problems all afternoon cutting in from the right-flank.
Gosling was released by Plymouth at 16, then studied at Gloucestershire’s Hartpury College for a year before being offered a second chance in League football by Exeter City.
The Grecians have loaned both Gosling and striker Jamie Reid to Dorchester to gain experience in Blue Square Bet South, and Sunday would have been a major lesson in both teenagers’ development, even if the latter didn’t get off the bench.
When they were offered professional terms at St James’ Park last April, a press release on the Hartpury website describes the highlight of Gosling’s career up to then as scoring the winning goal against Cambridge United that sealed the City kids an FA Youth Cup tie against Blackpool.
It’s safe to say that can be rewritten now!
The night before the game he would have dreamt of it turning out like it did, reminding the club that let him go exactly what a talent he is. The emotion he showed when he celebrated with his family and friends in the 3,000 crowd right next to me at the end suggested it was shared.
When he departs the Avenue Stadium to head back to Devon, the Grecians will find they’ve got a completely different player and person on their books, I’m sure, such is the lift success in ‘real men’s’ football can provide.
I was also delighted to see Adam Birchall tap Gillingham’s fourth goal over the line in the final minute of the League Two leaders’ 4-0 hammering of Scunthorpe.
About to turn 28, the pint-sized striker is already well-versed in League football with Arsenal, Mansfield and Barnet. But having rebuilt his career once in Non-League having been released by the Bees, he needed to rebuild his fitness after injury delayed the kick-off of his Gills career by a year.
A month with Dartford in the BSB Premier got him back on the scoresheet and, more importantly, a teamsheet. After four starts and two sub run-outs at Princes Park, he returned to Priestfield with a bang on Bonfire weekend.
Hopefully now he will go on to have the prolific League career his endeavours in that 45-goal 2010-11 campaign at Dover deserve.