It’s a ridiculous rags to riches tale that simply doesn’t ever happen. Yet former Mariner Charlie I’Anson has officially swapped non league football for the Spanish La Liga after making his debut for Elche yesterday. I’ve written about this before and also interviewed Charlie so I won’t go over too much old ground. However, it’s worth putting into context just how much of an incredible achievement this is.
Just two years ago Town were playing the likes of Kettring and Bath and the young centre half found it difficult to get a decent run of games as he fought for a place in the side against Scott Garner and Darran Kempson. After rejecting a contract offer as it wouldn’t cover his rent, Charlie moved to Spain. And the rest is history.
Yesterday he started in the first team for the first time, becoming the first Englishman to start in La Liga since David Beckham played in Spain for Real Madrid. Yes, Gareth Bale is Welsh. Charlie’s side Elche beat Espanyol 2-1 – the visitors featuring the likes of Simao (ex Barcelona) and are managed by former Mexican international boss Javier Aguirre. Charlie played entire 90 minutes. It’s an incredible achievement to swap Blundell Park for Spain’s top division, as well as proof that investing in youth development is key to the future of any club at our level.
If any young player at any lower league club needed an example that you can still make it in the game, just look at Charlie I’Anson. It’s just a pity Grimsby Town won’t benefit financially. Still, non league English football to La Liga in two years. Not bad…