Warnock to Wilder: a brief history of summer deadline day signings

Since the 31st of August 2007, DEM BLADES have occupied three rungs of the football leagues. Each summer deadline day, from Warnock to Wilder, has passed with a new realisation. We realised we’d signed Jordan Stewart, we realised the fax machine had broken,  for the most part, we realised that we weren’t signing anybody of note.




Highlights of the Premiership foray included Keith Gillespie throwing an elbow at Stephen Hunt. Chris Morgan, being a reyt BLADE, attacking, or being attacked by Lee McCulloch, Robin Van Persie, Juan Pablo Angel and Carlos Tevez.  Another could be Colin Kazim-Richards goal against Bolton. A very Warnock deadline day signing, who could drift an effort past Jussi Jääskeläinen as easily as he could drift out of a game.


Where were you when Christian Nade was let go? It’s a question that few will ask and that’s a shame. Instead, you were likely pondering how, on earth, we came to employ the blockhead, Bryan Robson. Who could turn your favourite flavour of Lynx (Africa, for me) into a wet, boozy fart, and on occasion he did.


‘Robbo’ which nobody called him, had left; Blackwell takes charge and makes changes.   O’Toole for Tonge, Lupoli for Stead. In fairness, Michael’s tongue was wagging at interest from Stoke City and who could blame him? He barely played over the coming years but nonetheless, in one of the sports great mysteries (to be explored in another article), managed to get a contract extension.


At the time, I wholeheartedly believed that I would remember this deadline day for selling Lee Hendrie. However, looking back, it’s perhaps more memorable as the day we signed one of the great footballing frauds, Jordan Stewart.

20102011It’s easy to skirt over the steady slope towards relegation, I just did.

Skip forward to 2011 and the Butterfly effect: where would DEM BLADES be today, had the fax machine not broken? What would John Fleck be doing? Why was it working for outgoing, and not for incoming, players? …life’s rich tapestry, eh Mr McCabe?


As if throwing out the possessions of an ex, the team was rid of the last bastions of Warnock. After the horrific disappointment of the season before, Danny Wilson opted to sign Daryl Westlake, desperately landed Dave Kitson and managed to adopt a radical draw-at-all costs policy, which cost him his job.


As Kevin McCabe has always said, “the best way to avoid promotion and relegation is to hire a manager, allow them to build a team around one key player and then sell that player from under his feet.’ David Weir’s failure was to become Negative Nige’s gain.

Negative Nige had a long stretch of a season all to himself, where he engineered a solid improvement. But, before his first full campaign in charge, he swore a blood-oath to Kevin McCabe, “I will never play the same team twice, even after this seasons success!” Neggy Nige is nothing if not a man of his word.


To write about Positive Nige is to feel yourself slip into a world of middle-management clichés. He didn’t make a deadline day signing, but he did pick the low-hanging fruit with his summer acquisitions. It’s a challenge to neutralise the negative of Connor Sammon or put lipstick on the pig that is Dean Hammond, and Pos Nige tried and failed to blue-sky think his way to success. He thought outside of the box, using a video of geese to attempt to raise the level of performance of real football players at a real football club. Horizon-scanning to the season’s end, every fan knew that this man was a dripping melt and melt away he did.

2016One of our own; Greasy Wilder. If you look across the eleven years of deadline day signings, Ebanks-Landell and Lafferty have contributed the most momentum to a successful campaign. With this in mind, I expect DEM BLADES to have made at least two signings before the night is out. I hope we sign a pacy striker and I hope there is a grain of truth in the rumour that we have signed Quinoa.

If not, there’s always January 31st.


Man of the Match

Paul Coutts




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