Archive for July, 2003

Sixth Summer Signing

roger6 @ 12:09 pm Monday 21 July 2003

Twenty year old Walsall midfielder Craig Stanley has joined Raith Rovers on a six month loan deal. The promising youngster is following in the footsteps of striker Kawl Hawley, who enjoyed a similar loan spell at Raith last season. Manager Colin Lee rates Stanley ‘very highly’ and said “He will relish the prospect of playing regular, competitive first team football and we are hoping that he will benefit as much as Karl Hawley did from his spell at Raith last season.”
Lee, meanwhile, is hoping to complete his sixth summer signing today following talks with an experienced, English based defender.
“I spoke to a player yesterday, and he’s said we’ll get an answer at some stage today,” said Lee. Lee failed to reveal the identity of the player, but some sources suggest Leicester’s Northern Ireland international Gerry Taggert. Former Coventry and Southampton defender Paul Williams has also been linked with a move to Bescot while Danny Hay is either about to sign for an Australian team or is holding out for a better deal from Walsall, depending on which report you believe.
Walsall play Hednesford at Keys Park tonight (7:30pm) but will not field a full strength side. “The majority of the team will be under-21s, but I won’t really know properly until I see how people are,” said Lee. Andy Bishop, Steve Corica and Matt Carbon are all set to feature after recovering from injuries which kept them out of Friday’s victory over Moor Green. As for Paul Merson…”He just wants to play some games after not playing much so far during pre-season,” said Lee. “We’ll see how he gets on in training today.”


The Merson Has Landed

roger6 @ 12:09 pm Friday 18 July 2003

Paul Merson signed for Walsall live on Sky TV today, ending a week of transfer speculation. The 35 year old is undoubtedly the club’s biggest signing in its 115 year history. “This is a truly fantastic signing for the club” revealed manager Colin Lee. The former Arsenal midfielder turned his back on the Premiership, rejected two other First Division clubs and took a significant pay cut to join the Saddlers. “Paul wants to become part of making this club better.” said Lee.
At the press conference, Merson revealed his reasons for joining one of the best run clubs in the country; for Merse will be close to his Midlands home, able to get into coaching with help from Colin Lee and will be re-united in midfield with close friend Vinny Samways. In fact, Lee revealed, it was a discussion about Samways in Spain that alerted him to the availability of Paul Merson. The great man himself admits he was impressed with Walsall last season – who lost to the odd goal in five at Fratton Park – and with what former Saddlers loanee Carl Robinson had to say on the Bescot club.
Portsmouth finished 17th in Division One in 2001/02. They signed Paul Merson and won the league. Walsall finished 17th in 2002/03, we have signed Paul Merson…
More signings expected
Lee also stated that he hopes to make two more signings this summer, a central defender and a striker to replace Danny Hay and Junior, whom Lee has given up on retaining.

We got Vinny

roger6 @ 12:10 pm Monday 14 July 2003

The 34 year old midfielder was hugely impressive whilst on loan at Walsall last season and has now signed a two year deal. Colin Lee was understandably ‘delighted’;
“It is a deal that we have been working on throughout the summer and I am thrilled by the outcome. Vinny did extremely well for us at the end of last season. He is the ultimate professional and a player of tremendous ability who possesses so much experience and know-how. I can see him playing a key role for us in the season ahead.” Lee also hinted at new signings, saying “Competition for places in the team is going to be fierce, with further new additions expected in the weeks ahead.” Fans will be hoping that Paul Merson is amongst them!

Double swoop

roger6 @ 12:10 pm Thursday 03 July 2003

Colin Lee has at last strengthened his midfield with the signings of Simon Osborn and Stefan Oakes. Osborn, 31, is a midfielder who Lee knows well, having worked with him at both Reading and Wolves. He missed the majority of last season with an Achilles injury but agreed a new two year deal at the Priestfield Stadium last week. Gills chairman Paul Scally was said to be ‘delighted’ that Osborn had agreed terms. “He is a lovely lad and we are all pleased that he is remaining with us.” Scally had changed his tune this morning, after learning of Osborn’s u-turn. “He asked me to draw up the new contract so he could sign and spend the rest of his career at Priestfield. But obviously a gentlemen’s agreement is not what it used to be.” Amazingly, Colin Lee said that “at the age of 31, we have him at the peak of his career”. This after earlier stating that he would build a new, younger squad. Even more amazing were the comments of Gills boss Andy Hessenthailer, who said that Osborn was unable to turn down the financial deal offered by Walsall.
Also signed today was 24 year old Stefan Oakes. Oakes spent six years at Leicester, the club he joined as a trainee in 1997. However, Oakes’ career has taken a turn for the worst since Martin O’Neil left the club and he was loaned out to Crewe last season. “Stefan Oakes is potentially a Premiership player. He made a big impact during the time of Martin O’Neill at Leicester. This move will help him to resurrect his career and at 24, with the tremendous technical ability he possesses, time is on his side to climb back to the top.”
Meanwhile, former Saddler David Zdrilic is said to be attracing the interest of Aberdeen while former skipper Martin O’Connor looks set to rejoin Peterborough.

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