9 January 2014

January Sales: Tisdale’s best (and worst) mid-season signings

Steve Tully: After a short spell with the Grecians in 2005 which garnered just two appearances, it’s fair to say Tulls’ second stint at St James’ Park was more successful. The right-back quickly became a fan favourite for his gutsy performances and that penalty at Oxford, and although his crossing left much to be desired at times, (the shinned attempt into the Big Bank last season springs to mind) Tully’s defensive strengths meant that he was a mainstay of the side until his surprise departure at the end of the last campaign.

Ryan Harley: Or rather Sir Ryan Harley. I remember well the Tuesday night game against York on Setanta where Harley made his second appearance as a second-half substitute, though little did I know that one of the best players in modern times to grace the red and white had just arrived on the scene. His playmaking, passing and finishing were effortless – the coolest head on the pitch when he kept City in League One in 2010 - which makes it all the more bemusing that he was turning out for Weston Super-Mare prior to his City switch. After a couple of seasons at Brighton, Sir Ryan is now a part of Mark Cooper’s Swindon Town team.

Richard Logan: Ah, the wonderfully unpredictable Logie. At times he bullied defences with his aerial ability and finishing, but there were also the other, more forgettable performances. The two stooping headers to seal a trip to Wembley and promotion to League One will live long in the memory of City fans and I think it’s safe to say that he loved us as much as we loved him. Lo lo, lo… you know the rest.

Troy Archibald-Henville: Troy initially arrived at St James’ Park in 2009 on a six-month loan deal and immediately became a fan favourite for not only his excellent displays, but because his name fitted perfectly into pre-match tune ‘Seven Nation Army’. He was a deceiving player in that he had, as the old cliché goes, a good touch for a big man, so much so that he was used as a holding midfielder for a time. It was at centre-back alongside captain Matt Taylor where he was most at home, though, and it was no coincidence that the Grecians’ downward decline back to League Two began when that partnership was broken up. Troy was snapped up by nutcase Paolo Di Canio during his infamous reign at Swindon in 2011 and is still there today, under the more-straightforward management of Mark Cooper.

Mark Molesley: The central-midfielder enjoyed a loan spell at League Two minnows Plymouth Argyle last season, before City snapped him up from Bournemouth on a free transfer this time last year. Despite impressing in his first few games for the club, Molesley’s form nosedived along with that of the Grecians - epitomised by a woeful showing at former club Argyle. Released at the end of last season, he now turns out for Conference side Aldershot.

Luke O’Brien: Possibly Paul Tisdale’s worst signing to date. Left-back O’Brien arrived from Bradford to replace the Barnsley-bound Scott Golbourne ...except he didn’t replace him. Three inept displays in the red and white were enough for Tis to realise the mistake he’d made and O’Brien was unceremoniously released at the end of the fateful 2011-12 relegation campaign. After spending last season at Oxford, the 25 year-old now plies his trade for Gateshead.