Kenny Jackett made a new centre half his top priority in the summer of 2006 but his attempts to sign one were pretty disastrous. Roger Johnson was on his way here until Huw Jenkins went blabbing to the press which alerted Cardiff and he then signed for our arch rivals. That was bad enough but then Dean Leacock’s record transfer from Fulham fell through when he failed a medical. To make things worse he then became a key man for Derby who won promotion to the Premier League. Just great. So in the end we had to make do with 32 year old Dennis Lawrence from Wrexham.
Bad To Worse
After the gutting way the previous season ended we were all hoping to get off to a good start. We did the complete opposite by losing 1-2 at home to Cheltenham which prompted “If only we’d won the Play-Off final” to enter my head on the first of many occasions this term. It got worse in the next game when new skipper Garry Monk saw his season ended by a cruciate ligament injury leaving new signing Darren Pratley to take over the armband.
Leon Knight started the season as he finished the last by scoring goals for fun. However he was sensationally transfer listed in mid-October with Jackett saying he would never play for us again. The reasons for this have never been revealed with rumours flying about from he left the kitman’s daughter on her own on holiday, to he bet on us to lose the Play-Off final. Whatever went on it was a shame; Knight was a great player for us in his brief spell here even if he did have a bad reputation.
We were going along nicely but we never looked like living up to the “only the top two will do” billing from the chairman at the start of the campaign. Jackett’s side failed to win three games in a row or win after conceding a goal first which seemed to be the route of the problems. At Christmas the chairman proclaimed we needed ten points from five games which we just about got although it should’ve been thirteen as we surrendered a two goal lead at Huddersfield to lose 3-2 to a side that hadn’t won in ten which summed us up. I shouldn’t say this as the SoS designer supports them but I can’t stand Huddersfield, they’re a horrible lot and they rubbed it in like hell at the final whistle which wound me up a treat. The player who scored the winner that day would soon find himself calling the Liberty home though…
After persisting with him for the year he was with us a bid of £300,000 from Plymouth finally saw Rory Fallon’s Swansea nightmare come to an end. He managed fourteen goals during that time but it should have been many more, the amount of sitters he missed was unreal so there were no tears shed on his departure. His replacement was Pawel Abbott who scored twice in that game at Huddersfield but he ended up scoring less in his Swans career than he did in that one game against us. To put it mildly he was utter crap, another reason why I don’t like Huddersfield.
The FA Cup saw us paired with Newport who we dispatched comfortably but not before the 4th official was hit by an object from the home crowd and Darlington were also defeated and we found ourselves paired with Sheffield United in round three. Despite the fact that Trundle, Robbo, Monk, Pratley and Craney were all injured, banned or cup-tied we dumped the Premier League side out with a Tom Butler brace and Leon Britton penalty. Quite a feat when you consider we had O’Leary and Tate in central midfield. It’s also worth pointing out that this was our first win in Yorkshire for nearly five years! We lost to Ipswich in the next round which was one of Jackett’s last games in charge…
Following a very poor display and defeat at home to Oldham, Jackett quit and left Kevin Nugent as temporary manager. Dean Saunders and Gary Megson were linked with the job but Huw made a brave decision by appointing Roberto Martinez who left the club the previous summer. I was sceptical about this feeling it was a cheap option but he would at least have us playing good football. What would the future now hold? There were twelve games left, we were out of the race for the top two but could we make the play-offs?
Yes was the answer. Remember I said we didn’t win three in a row under or win after conceding first all season? Well Martinez soon put that right in one afternoon against Northampton. The upturn in form continued as we tasted victory in six of our first ten under his stewardship leaving us in contention with just two games left. 1,000 of us travelled to Carlisle for the last away game and were treated to loan star Darryl Duffy’s last minute winner to keep our hopes alive. It all came down to the final day with in form Blackpool the visitors. We needed to win and win well which meant even when in front we kept going for it and in the end left ourselves too open and the Tangerines won 3-6 on a crazy afternoon in south Wales. We ended up in 7th but it had been a gallant effort and the changes implemented by Martinez made me confident we would get it right next year. And how right I was proved to be!