Although Anthony Elding’s Grimsby Town career hasn’t quite plunged to the depths currently inhabited by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, not since the days of Peter Bore and Danny North have Mariners fans had a player to vent their anger at. Dismissed as a panic buy by some when he was signed by Rob Scott and Paul Hurst at the beginning of last season, he won over the fans by being a great foil for Liam Hearn and for a great spot of cheerleading last Christmas during the wins over Lincoln (where he may or may not have mooned the Lincoln fans following the home New Year’s Day victory). Allegedly.
Ending last season as the number 10 to Liam Hearn’s number 9 (and yes I know Hearn wore 10, I’m speaking more in a positional sense), he didn’t quite suit the target man tag and looked a little lost without his prolific team-mate up top. After a few lacklustre performances meant he was left out of the side this season, the former Stockport and Stevenage striker was swayed by a move to League 1 Preston and ended up on loan at Deepdale. Yet that move didn’t work out either and he was sent back after a month, to the delight of their fans. How many players have had the misfortune of fans of club A cheering you off when you disappear on loan, only to have new fans at club B happily wave you off after one short month?
For example, to quote a few Preston fans from the PNE-Online forum:
[Elding] fits the criteria that we seem to be looking for in a player. Shit, old and has Stevenage on their CV.
[Elding]‘s utterly shite.
While he was away Town went 12 games unbeaten, Ross Hannah bashed nine goals in 12 games and Andy Cook came of age. With Richard Brodie now at the club and Liam Hearn due back at the end of next month, Elding’s name has again been circulated to clubs and he can leave on a permanent basis. His face no longer fits and despite not pulling on a Town shirt in any fashion since the defeat at Hyde last year (ironically the last time the Mariners lost in the league), Elding is still subject to abuse from the fans.
Rob Scott – Preston have gone like the weather on Elding…very cold – that’s the problem with letting them see what a cart horse he is…
— Mark Robbo Robinson (@RobboGTFC) January 18, 2013
#GTFC have made Elding available for loan and have circulated his name to clubs, shit shit bastard.
— Sophie Bray (@bray_sophie) January 17, 2013
So where did it all go wrong? Rumours of dressing room bust-ups and training ground tantrums may or may not be true, but it’s safe to say Elding’s performances this season have not matched those of 2011/12. The work rate and desire simply wasn’t there and he was out of the team on merit. Andy Cook got better and better and the signing of Ross Hannah, a huge upgrade, left him without the chance to step onto the pitch. Putting in a transfer request wasn’t the wisest move and, as we all know, you don’t take on Scott and Hurst and win. You could argue any footballer would jump at the chance to move up two leagues, but then swearing your allegiance to the club and fans with a new contract three months earlier was maybe not the smartest move. At least that interview with the Grimsby Telegraph shows he was honest…
“I am the sort of person where if it’s not right off the field, my head won’t be right on it…I want to fight for the club and score the goals that wins us promotion if that’s possible. I love playing for the club and the fans.”
And that’s probably where it all went wrong. Head turned, poor(er) performances, fans on your back. The rest, as they say, is history.