17th July – Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom will be hoping his managerial career will go slightly further than his playing career but he needs to make sure he chooses the right career path.

Leaving Barnsley for Leeds United might be an easy decision to some but maybe he should have avoided taking the job when he did as the club don’t seem to keep their managers in charge for very long. It is good to see that he is ambitious but after just four wins in 16 games he was sacked. He still has a long way to go in his career.

Heckingbottom started his career at Sunderland but never made a professional league appearance for the club and was sent out on loan to Scarborough, Hartlepool United and Darlington, with the full back joining the latter permanently in 1999. After 126 appearances and six goals, the defender was showing his potential and joined Norwich City in 2002. However, he couldn’t break into the team regularly and after just 16 games his contract was cancelled.

Heckingbottom Darlington

Bradford City was his next destination and he quickly became a fan favourite with his wholehearted and committed performances. Despite the club getting relegated at the end of the season, Heckingbottom was named the Player of the Year, and this convinced Sheffield Wednesday to sign the defender.

In his first season at Wednesday, he played more games than any other player for the club and scored four goals as the club gained promotion to the Championship after winning the playoffs. Unfortunately an injury during pre-season meant he lost his place in the side and never regained the left back spot so on the 13th January 2006 he joined boyhood club Barnsley. Once again he helped the club gain promotion through the playoffs and scored in the penalty shootout victory over Swansea City.

Heckingbottom BC

After his move was made permanent he played a key role in helping the club avoid relegation comfortably but in the following summer he rejoined Bradford City. After a good start he would start to pick up injuries and after 53 league games he left the club again, this time he signed for Conference side Mansfield Town.

An injury ruined his pre-season and he didn’t make his debut until October 2009, 11 months after he had last played a professional game. After just 11 games he was loaned out to Gateshead who made the deal permanent in the next summer. He would only feature 22 times in the 2010-11 season and after a short spell at Harrogate Town he decided to retire.

Heckingbottom barnsley

Since retiring, Heckingbottom has already managed over 100 league games and won the League One playoffs with Barnsley as well as the Football League Trophy during the 2015-16 season which led to him being given the job on a permanent basis after two previous spells as caretaker.

The final word can go to former Mansfield Town manager David Holdsworth. “He is a class act and an accomplished player. I am delighted to have him on board.”

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7th February – Clayton Donaldson

Clayton Donaldson has played a big part in Birmingham City’s revival this season under Gary Rowett and helped his side to a 1-1 draw with Fulham on his birthday but unfortunately could not add to his goal tally.

Now 31 it has been a long road for the 31 year old to reach the Championship but he has always scored goals at whatever club he has been at in England. It seemed like he made a bad decision leaving Brentford for Birmingham in the early months of the season but in recent weeks his new club have started playing much better.

The striker started his career at Hull City and scored on his debut on the 22nd October 2002 against Port Vale in the Football League Trophy. Shortly afterwards he joined Northern Premier League club Harrogate Town on loan and also scored on his debut for them against Gateshead. He spent three months at the club, scoring five times in 10 games. Back at his parent club he signed a new two year deal and made a further two appearances before the end of the season. After short loan spells at Scarborough and Halifax Town, he returned to Harrogate again on loan and had more success with the club, winning the Conference North Player of the Month in October 2004 and scored four times in 11 games before being released by his parent club.

In June 2005 Donaldson joined York City and had an impressive first season, finding the back of the net 18 times and being named Clubman of the Year. During his second season he was being linked with moves away from the club and this may have distracted for short periods and many clubs tabled bids for the striker but none were accepted. After 26 goals in the Conference he did leave York in the summer of 2007 and made the step up to the SPL and joined Hibernian. Donaldson got his first goal for the club after winning and scoring a penalty against Falkirk but was later sent off in the game. After serving his suspension he scored on his return against Motherwell and then later in the month got a hatrick against Kilmarnock.

Donaldson York

During the second half of the season he was frozen out of the team and didn’t play leading to a transfer to Crewe Alexandra in the summer. He first season wasn’t as prolific as he hoped but he improved in his second season despite injuries and eventually in his third season he showed his true potential. He ended the campaign as League Two’s top scorer with 28 goals.

Donaldson CA

Once again his talents were seen by teams in higher leagues and on the 1st July 2011 he joined League One side Brentford. In each of his three seasons he hit double figures and was a constant threat to the opposition, ending his time there with over 50 goals but even though he helped them to promotion at the end of the 2013-14 season he declined their new contract offer and joined Birmingham. He is already in double figures so he has proved he can make the step up to the level and it will be interesting to see how far he can go.

Donaldson Brentford

The final word can go to Birmingham manager Gary Rowett. “He deserves his purple patch because he works so hard for the team. His role is pivotal to the way we play and he plays it brilliantly. He occupies defenders and all the players appreciate the role he does. He’s picking up goals as well and for me they’re bonuses.”

8th October – Karl Darlow

Karl Darlow was signed by Newcastle United in the summer along with Jamaal Lascelles but both players were immediately loaned back out to Nottingham Forest to help the club gain promotion and get some more valuable match experience.

The 24 year old goalkeeper knows that his best years are still ahead of him but being a number one at one of the favourites for promotion must give him a confidence boost and if he can help them reach the Premier League, he will be confident of pushing Tim Krul for the number one shirt at Newcastle. However, if the current trend continues it could be Forest playing in the Premier League and Newcastle in the Championship which will be disappointing for the two youngsters.
Darlow NU
Darlow started his career at Aston Villa but after being released he was recommended to Nottingham Forest by Eric Steele and he joined their academy in 2006. He quickly rose through the youth ranks and after some impressive displays for the reserves he was the second choice keeper during the 2010-11 season. He eventually made his debut on the final day of the season in a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace after coming on as a substitute for Lee Camp, this result secured their place in the playoffs.

He had to then go out on loan to get some game time and in March 2012 he joined Conference side Newport County for a month and made his debut in a 1-0 win over Gateshead. He put in some good performances and finished his time there with eight appearances. After the summer he once again was sent out on loan, this time to Walsall on the 21st September 2012. Although he initially only joined for a month this was later extended, however injuries at his parent club meant he had to be recalled and in two separate loan spells he played nine League One games.
Darlow Walsall
During his time out on loan he signed a new contract with Forest and then was somewhat surprisingly made their first choice keeper after Lee Camp was released in January 2013. On the 12th January 2013 Darlow made his full debut in a 2-1 win over Peterborough United and ended the campaign with 20 appearances for the club.

It was expected that they would sign a more experienced number one in the summer and after Billy Davies brought in Dorus De Vries, many thought Darlow would once again have to settle for a place on the bench or out loan. But this was not the case as the young goalkeeper played in 43 of the 46 Championship games and was one of the highest rated keepers in the division.
Darlow NF
On the 23rd August 2013 he signed a new four year deal but this did not stop Newcastle United signing him just a year later on the 9th August 2014. For the 2014-15 season he has remained at Forest and has helped them to a fantastic start, with the club unbeaten in the first 11 league games.

The final word can go to former Nottingham Forest manager Sean O’Driscoll. “He is a goalkeeper who has been impressing for a long time. He’s got a bright future. He’s doing really well on loan at Walsall and I’m pleased that he’s signed a new deal with us.”

26th September – Paul Dummett

Newcastle United have had a terrible start to the season and will be hoping that Paul Dummett’s winning goal in the League Cup can kick start their campaign and they can compete at the right end of the table.

Dummett is 23 today and will more than most players at the club want to do well for the fans because he is a local lad but it has been difficult for those in the stands to get behind the manager Alan Pardew. The left back will be hoping that his goal against Crystal Palace can secure his place in the starting lineup against Stoke City and can help the club get their first win of the Premier League season.

He has come up through the youth system and in recent years with Newcastle’s transfer policy this has been a rare occurrence and he should have quickly became a fan favourite but unfortunately for him his rise up the ranks has coincided with Newcastle decrease in quality.
Dummett NUFC
The left back had to go out on loan to get some first team action and joined Conference side Gateshead on loan in March 2012 for an initial month, but after several impressive performances this was extended until the end of the season. During his time at the club he played 10 games and helped them keep six clean sheets. Once again in the following season he had to go out on loan and joined Scottish Premier League side St Mirren.
Dummett Gateshead
On the 15th September 2012 he made his debut in a 2-0 win over Hearts and then went on to score his first senior goal in a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone. With his loan spell coming to an end, the Scottish side wanted to extend his loan but he returned to Newcastle and made his debut for them in a disappointing FA Cup defeat to Brighton on the 5th January 2013. After failing to break into the team regularly he rejoined St Mirren on the 31st January until the end of the season. While at the club he helped them win their first trophy in 26 years as he played the full 90 minutes in the Scottish League Cup final victory over Hearts.
Dummett STM
After playing 30 times in the SPL he was rewarded with a new one year contract by Newcastle. With his extra experience he was now ready for the first team and he started to feature more as the 2013-14 season progressed. He then went on to score his first ever goal for the club in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool in October 2013. Soon afterwards he was given a new contract which meant his deal was extended until 2019. He played 21 times and started the new season as the first choice left back with Davide Santon injured and Massadio Haidara being left on the bench.

The final word can go to Alan Pardew. “We love him to bits. Paul’s a local lad. He’s having to prove to the Newcastle public that he’s good enough. It’s hard for players to come through the academy these days. He does what it says on the tin. He’s a tough tackler, he’s good going forward.”