This article appeared originally on my old blog on January 21st 2016.
I read with interest today the news that Jon Nolan had signed for Grimsby Town. Like Ben Tomlinson he’s the second ex Imp to make the short journey up the A46 with neither set of fans particularly unhappy.
Nolan has made himself a bit of a figure of hate recently. After a season and a half of decent performances you felt the best was yet to come from Nolan. He’s lightweight, granted and he does have a tendency to disappear for a week or two at a time. However few can doubt his potential ability as a cultured midfielder with a cute eye for a pass. For a few months he was the player my Dad liked but could never name: “I like that little ginger lad in midfield, he’s a proper footballer’.
A proper footballer he may be but the nature of his departure left a very sour taste in Imps fans mouths. He was clearly influenced by his good friend Sean Newton, another player with potential but a terrible attitude. Shortly after we play Wrexham, Newtons new club, Jon hands in a loan request, and promptly moved to Wales.
As is usual in this situation some fans immediately forgot the good things the player did (see also Ben Tomlinson) and immediately poured scorn on the player, labelling him as a bottler and accusing him of following his boyfriend over to Wrexham. When he failed to break into the team there it was met with derision and delight, and his release from the club compounded his status as a hate figure. In reality given his stint he should have at last been remembered fondly as a good but lightweight player.
As an Imp I sincerely hope he doesn’t achieve anything at Grimsby and he ends up scurrying away to the Northern Premier League. However I can see things panning out a little differently for him. The Cod’s are clearly taking a punt here. He’s only 23 and still has his best years ahead of him, and at some point you can’t help but feel he might turn a corner. Perhaps the fear of losing his professional career to lower league football will kick in. Maybe he’ll realise that he needs to turn in consistent performances when he’s given a chance.
If he does that then unfortunately Grimsby might just have struck gold, because as I’ve covered he can be a handy little player. At the beginning of last season he looked tricky and composed with the air of a player who could go on to better things. If he realises it we might have to hate him for much longer than anticipated.