Posts tagged ‘Sheffield United’

February 3, 2012

African Cup of Nations: Five classic defenders

The African Cup of Nations has thrown up some classic players over its history. In this series, FAH takes a look at some of the names you might have erased from your memory. Next up are five defensive giants.

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April 14, 2011

My Favourite Player: Jack Lester

– by Tom Farmery

Blundell Park has always proved to be a gleaming shop window, with the likes of Kevin Drinkell, John Oster, and Ryan Bennett all moving on to bigger clubs after playing for Grimsby Town. However, one player who, for me, stands out more than any other is Jack Lester. Sheffield-born Lester came to Grimsby in 1994 to begin his senior career with the Mariners and immediately won the Town faithful’s hearts with the intelligent football he played.

Photo: ryan147.com

The way he would back into the centre-half before either laying the ball into the path of Steve Livingstone or Lee Nogan was textbook. However in the majority of his 132 appearances for Town, Lester became most known for his ability to hold the ball up while backing into the defender and then turning his man before winning a penalty because the opposition player had clipped his heels in an effort to stop the striker’s route to goal.

Yet despite Lester’s attractive style of attacking play at Grimsby he only managed to score 17 goals in a black and white shirt. Looking back now the figure is surprising considering the level of excitement you got when watching the young forward.

However when he signed his professional contract for the Mariners in 1994, he was only 19 years old. I started watching Grimsby in 1996, and therefore caught glimpses of Lester when he returned from Doncaster Rovers on loan. Alan Buckley saw how the raw 21-year-old had developed at Belle Vue into a first team player and gave Lester his chance on return to Blundell Park.

It was then that I began to admire his skill on the ball and the way he could provide that minor moment of magic which could prove match winning. However, it was not until the glory season of 1997/98, when the Mariners won promotion and the Auto Windscreens Shield that the striker really came to life.

His success in that seasons surprised fans and opposition managers alike. Both Nogan and Livingstone were the players to look out for. Lester was expected to be a rotation player – or what Premier League fanatics like to call a super-sub. But he quickly found himself in Buckley’s first choice eleven as opposition defences struggled with his irritating approach that often was rewarded with free-kicks and penalties.

It is a tactic that Lester has adapted to every club he has played for since he left Cleethorpes in 2000 to join David Platt’s Nottingham Forest for £300,000. Three years later he joined Sheffield United but only a year later Lester left the club he is a lifelong fan of and rejoined Forest, this time under Joe Kinnear.

But it has been with Chesterfield where the striker would really find his form. Since arriving at Saltergate in 2007 Lester has made 136 appearances and has scored an impressive total of 71 goals.

For me, though, Lester will always be remembered for the hat-trick he scored with ten minutes to go against Oldham Athletic in the League Cup. A truly remarkable display of raw talent and one that makes it easy for me to name him my favourite player of all time.

– Tom Farmery, from Market Rasen, is about to complete a degree in Investigative Journalism at the University of Lincoln.