22nd March – Luke Freeman

Luke Freeman has had a double celebration today after turning 23 and also helping Bristol City defeat Walsall 2-0 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.

The midfielder is looking to have a fantastic end to a season that has already been pretty special for Bristol City and their fans as they look like they are going to get promoted to the Championship as League One champions. Freeman has always been a very good player and one that definitely has the ability to prove it at a higher level so he will be hoping that the club can secure promotion as quickly as possible so he can prepare for the second tier of English football.

Freeman started his career at Gillingham where he made his debut against Barnet in the FA Cup on the 10th November 2007 at the age of just 15 years and 233 days, therefore becoming Gillingham’s youngest ever player and also the youngest player to appear in the FA Cup. Later in the month he would also make his league debut against Hartlepool United and his performances caught the eye of several Premier League clubs and joined Arsenal on trial in December 2007.

Arsenal signed Freeman on the 30th January 2008 and after impressing for the under 18s he was given a professional contract by the club just over a year later. After progressing through the youth teams and into the reserves he needed first team opportunities and joined Yeovil Town on loan at the start of the 2010-11 season. He got off to a great start scoring in a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient on his debut and would go on to play 12 more league games for the club before his loan was ended by injury.

Freeman YT

He recovered from his injury and would impress again for Arsenal’s reserves and was eager to go back out on loan, this time joining Stevenage on the 17th November 2011. In his second loan spell away he played nine games and scored one goal in a 6-1 win over Colchester United but his performances particularly off the bench were exciting and showed he had a lot of potential. This convinced Stevenage to sign Freeman permanently on the 10th January 2012. He would help the club reach the playoffs with seven goals in 32 games but unfortunately they would lose out in the semi finals.

Freeman Stevenage

The 2012-13 wasn’t as successful for the midfielder as he struggled for consistency and spent a lot of the season featuring as a substitute. However in the following season, despite Stevenage finishing bottom of League One, he put in some fantastic performances and ended the campaign with a career best eight goals. After 128 games and 17 goals for Stevenage, Freeman would leave for Bristol City on the 26th June 2014.

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So far for Bristol City he has played 48 times in all competitions, scored seven goals and provided 15 assists which just shows how important he is to the side and is a big reason why they are challenging at the top of the table.

The final word can go to Steve Cotterill. “He’s someone we’ve been keeping tabs on for some time and I’m delighted we’ve been able to bring Luke on board. He’s a good, young, exciting player. He’s an excellent addition to the football club for the short term and long term. He can play on the left, on the right and cut in, or play in a midfield three.”

5th March – Matty Fryatt

Nottingham Forest are definitely outsiders to reach the playoffs this season and with Britt Assombalonga out injured they will be relying on Matty Fryatt to score the goals.

Fryatt is now 29 and has been a consistent goalscorer for a number of years and he has proven that when he’s given the chance he can find the back of the net. When he has started games in his career he has always been one of the most awake on the pitch and he has proven this by scoring Leicester City and Walsall’s quickest ever goals both after just nine seconds, surprisingly though in both games his side would go on to lose the games 2-1.

The striker started his career at Walsall and made his debut in the League Cup against Bolton Wanderers on the 24th September 2003. But he had to go out on loan to Carlisle United to get more experience in December and he played well during his 10 game spell. The following season he was a regular for Walsall and was awarded their Player of the Year after hitting 15 goals in 36 games. This led to speculation about his future but he stayed with Walsall until January when he signed for Leicester City after another good start to the season.

Fryatt Walsall

He made his debut against Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-1 defeat and a week later he scored his first goal for the club in a 2-1 defeat against Cardiff City. Despite manager Craig Levein being sacked, Fryatt believed he made the right move and scored six goals to help the club avoid relegation from the Championship. The following two seasons were a struggle as he suffered from injury problems and only managed six goals and with the club getting relegated his future was in doubt.

However, he made a positive start to the 2008-09 season, scoring five goals in the first four games and was named the League One Player of the Month. The goals kept coming and he became the first player for 42 years to score 20 goals before Christmas for the club. During this fantastic run he also became the first player in 83 years to score consecutive hatricks. He ended the season with 32 goals and was named the League One Player of the Year after helping Leicester gain promotion.

Fryatt LC

Once again he started the next season in fantastic form, finding the back of the net three times in the opening five matches. A broken jaw towards the end of the season stopped him having as much of an impact as he would have hoped but with 13 goals he was still the top goalscorer. He only spent a further six months at Leicester as he joined Hull City on the 1st January 2011 and got off to a great start, scoring on his debut against Portsmouth and then another against Barnsley. On the 5th February he would score a hatrick against Scunthorpe United and on his 25th birthday he scored his 100th career goal in a win over Nottingham Forest. He ended the season with nine goals at Hull.

Fryatt HC

The 2011-12 season was the last time he was first choice at Hull as he played every league game and scored 16 times but in his first appearance in the 2012-13 season he picked up a serious achilles injury. So on the 27th September 2013 he joined Sheffield Wednesday on loan and made a good impact. He scored against Brighton, Barnsley and twice against Reading before returning to Hull and scored his first Premier League goal in a 6-0 win over Fulham and would later play an important role in getting the club to the FA Cup final by scoring in the semi final against Sheffield United. On the 9th June 2014 Fryatt signed for Nottingham Forest and so far has six goals for the club.

The final word can go to Nigel Pearson. “Matty’s goalscoring record is pretty good. He is a predator and he also has the ability to score goals out of nothing. He works phenomenally hard for the team and he makes himself chances because of his work rate as much as anything.”

27th October – Rhys Weston

Rhys Weston may not be the most recognisable name but he has had a very interesting career and if it wasn’t for injuries he may have played at a higher level for a prolonged period of time.

The defender will be fondly remembered by Cardiff City fans as he helped them climb from the bottom division of the Football League to the Championship and even took a pay cut in 2005 to help the club. The 34 year old can also say that he played at the highest level as he featured seven times for Wales between the years of 2000 and 2005.

Now 34 he doesn’t have a club but has played in a few different countries and experienced some different cultures so he can at least take that from his career. Weston started his career at Arsenal and made his debut on the 30th November 1999 in a League Cup game against Middlesbrough after coming on as a substitute. Later in the season he would go on to make his only top flight appearance as he started the final game against Newcastle United on the 14th May 2000.

In total he played three times for Arsenal before joining Cardiff in November 2000 for £300,000. He made his debut in a 3-2 win over Lincoln City and would go on to play another 31 times as the club gained promotion to Division Two after finishing 2nd. In the following season Weston was a more important member of the team and showed his quality in the 43 games he played, unfortunately the club missed out on back to back promotions after being beaten in the playoffs by Stoke City. The 2002-03 season was successful for the player and the club as they managed to gain promotion after beating QPR 1-0 in the playoff final. During the season Weston also scored his first professional goal after scoring in a 4-0 win over Tranmere Rovers on the 26th October.
Weston CC
Despite adapting well to the First Division, Weston struggled with injuries and would only play 24 times after suffering a knee injury and then damaging cartilage in his other knee in March 2004. In the following campaign he returned to his consistent self but again his season was ended by injury. At the end of the season he accepted a substantial reduction in his wages and was placed on the transfer list by new manager Dave Jones but still managed to play 30 times during the 2005-06 season. However, he was left out of the club’s pre-season tour and was released.

Weston then joined Norwegian side Viking but his only match for the club lasted 12 minutes as he dislocated his shoulder. Four days later the manager was sacked and the incoming manager could not speak English so Weston returned to the UK. In February 2007 Weston signed for Port Vale. He would go onto play 15 games for the club before being released. On the 16th July 2007 Weston signed for Walsall and went on to play 50 games for the club during the 2007-08 season earning himself a new deal. He would continue to be a consistent player but at the end of the 2009-10 manager Chris Hutchings decided not to give him a contract and after 111 games he joined Dundee.
Weston Walsall
He spent two seasons at the Scottish side and in both seasons they finished 2nd in Division One but at the end of his contract he decided to join Icelandic side KR Reykjavik. Due to financial problems he left the club after just 16 appearances and made the move to Malaysia to sign for Sabah FA. He only played six times and joined AFC Wimbledon on the 7th August 2013. Once again he did not get much game time and after a loan spell at Sutton United he was not offered a new contract.
Weston Dundee
The final word can go to Richard Money. “Rhys has become an important member of the team. His performances have become more and more consistent as the season has progressed and we hope that he will continue to be an important player for Walsall.”

10th October – Lee Trundle

Lee Trundle is a legend at Swansea City, enjoying a very successful spell at the club and delighting their fans with his goals and his skills.

Although he was a striker, it was not just his goals that impressed the fans, it was his all round play and the way that he easily got passed players with skill. He is back at Swansea now after being appointed their Club Ambassador and Youth Coach on the 25th June 2013 which shows how important he is to the club and how highly they still think of him.
The 38 year old did not have the easiest starts to his football career and was a late comer to the professional game and had to have spells at non league sides Burscough, Stalybridge Celtic, Southport, Bamber Bridge and Chorley before moving to Welsh side Rhyl.

He only spent six months at the Welsh Premier League side and after scoring 15 goals in just 18 games, he caught the attention of Wrexham manager Brian Flynn. Wrexham signed the striker during the 2000-01 season and was an immediate hit, scoring eight times in just 14 games in the Second Division. His first goal was a crucial one for the club as on the 24th February 2001 he scored a bicycle kick against Walsall to kick start a comeback from 2-0 down and Wrexham eventually went on to win the game 3-2.
Trundle Wrexham
Trundle spent just over two years at the club and ended his time there with 30 goals in 78 starts which is a decent record, especially when you consider that they were relegated in his second season. But in the summer of 2003 he moved to another Welsh side in Swansea and teamed up once again with Brian Flynn. On his debut against Bury he became an instant hero by scoring and showed off his extraordinary tricks that began to get him mainstream attention, particularly on the TV show Soccer AM where he was regularly featured.

In four of his five seasons at the club he hit at least 20 goals. He was always linked with moves away from the club but he did stay loyal to Swansea and in October 2005 he became the first player outside of the Premier League to sign an image rights contract which offered a portion of revenues from merchandise featuring his image.
Trundle SC
After 78 goals in 146 appearances he eventually left Swansea on the 30th July 2007 and signed for Bristol City. It was believed that City had put in four bids for the striker before they eventually landed their target. Unfortunately he never really hit the heights at the club and only managed seven goals in 53 league games and had to go out on loan to Leeds United and back to Swansea to get some more game time.
Trundle BC
When his contract expired at Bristol City he wanted to rejoin Swansea permanently but they only offered him a coaching role which Trundle rejected. In July 2010 he joined Welsh side Neath but his time there only lasted two years as the club struggled with financial problems. After leaving the club, the striker went on trial with Preston and earned a one year contract, however a knee injury meant he didn’t get to play much and his contract was terminated on the 8th February. Short spells at Chester and Marine followed but Trundle retired from professional football at the end of the 2012-13 season.

The final word can go to Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins. “Lee was a great player and ambassador for this football club. I know what the club means to him and how much the fans adore him so we are all delighted to welcome him back in this new role.”

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.”

18th July – Lee Barnard

Lee Barnard has been a good goalscorer in the Football League over the years and he will be hoping to rediscover that form next season to help Southend United get promoted.

It is his second spell at Southend and if it can be anywhere near as good as his first spell then the club will certainly go close to achieving their targets under Phil Brown. Barnard started his career at Tottenham Hotspur but made his first league appearances while out on loan at Exeter City but he had to wait until a loan spell at Stevenage Borough where he would score his first goal against Shrewsbury Town. Further loan spells at Leyton Orient and Northampton Town followed but he was still only young and making his way in the game.

He eventually made his debut for Spurs on the 17th April 2006 in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United after coming on as a substitute in the 77th minute and also came on the following week against Bolton Wanderers. At the start of the next season he joined Crewe Alexandra for five months and scored on his debut against Huddersfield Town. However, he suffered an injury in late October and returned to his parent club after 10 league games and three goals.

On the 25th January 2008 Barnard joined Southend on a permanent deal and he made his debut that night against Barnsley in the FA Cup after coming on as a substitute. He made his full debut a few days later against Leeds United and scored the only goal of the game after a free kick had hit the post. Before the end of the season he managed to score another nine goals, including an injury time winner against Carlisle United.
Barnard Southend
The 2008-09 season was not quite as good as the striker would have hoped, however he did still manage to get to double figures but he could have got a lot more had it not been for injuries. The next season started much better with him getting four goals in the first three games and this included his first professional hatrick against Leyton Orient. Over the next few months he scored last minute winners against Gillingham and MK Dons and also scored a brace against Hartlepool United which helped his team win 3-2 after they had been 2-0 down. He scored once more for the club in his first spell which took him to 37 goals in 85 games.

Barnard signed for Southampton in January 2010 and he scored his first two goals for the club in a 2-0 win over Norwich City and a week later he scored another two goals against Walsall and then three days later he scored in a 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town. The 2010-11 was also successful as he scored 16 goals for the club but missed the last few weeks of the season through injury.
Barnard Soton
Unfortunately he didn’t get many more chances at Southampton but enjoyed loan spells at Bournemouth, Oldham Athletic and Southend. After his contract expired at Southampton he rejoined Southend on a permanent deal.
Barnard Bournemouth
The final word can go to Southend manager Phil Brown. “Hopefully we can get him back playing how he was during his first spell with the club. He’s an out and out striker who knows where the goal is, so I’m sure he can rediscover that sort of form.”

20th June – Frank Lampard

Frank Lampard’s 36th birthday may have been ruined by England getting knocked out of the World Cup but he has still had a phenomenal career and is Chelsea’s all time top scorer.

The midfielder has now officially left Chelsea but he will have a lot of offers to consider and it could be his last move before retirement so he will probably take his time to decide. He has been one of the best ever goalscoring midfielders in Europe and has always worked hard to get to the level that he wanted. Frank Junior started his career at West Ham United but had to get his first taste of first team football on loan to Swansea City where he played nine league games and scored his first professional goal against Brighton.

He eventually made his West Ham debut on the 31st January 1996 after coming on as a substitute against Coventry City and in the following season he started his first game against Arsenal. He made a further 15 appearances that season but a broken leg ended it early. The 1997-98 season was the breakthrough year for Lampard as he played a lot of games and scored his first Premier League goal on the opening day of the season and later scored a hatrick against Walsall in the League Cup. In total he played 42 times and scored nine goals.
Lampard WH
He played every game for West Ham the following season as they finished fifth in the Premier League and qualified for the Intertoto Cup. Lampard scored a few important goals in their European run, including one in the final against FC Metz. He finished the season as the club’s third highest scorer with 14 goals. However, the 2000-01 season was not as good for the club as they struggled in the league and finished 15th, despite this Lampard still managed nine goals from midfield. This would be his last season at the club as he joined Chelsea for £11 million in June 2001.
Lampard Chelsea
In his first few seasons at Chelsea he was a solid player for the club but he did not exactly look like he was going to break any records but he did spring to life in the 2003-04 season as he reached double figures for the first time in his career and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. The next season he really announced himself as one of the best with impressive performances both in the league and in Europe. In April 2005 he scored twice in a victory over Bolton Wanderers that won Chelsea their first title in fifty years.

After a lot more trophies and even more goals Lampard was one of the most feared midfielders in the world as he continued to break into the box and cause the opposition problems. There are many strikers that are jealous of his record and on the 11th May 2013 he scored twice against Aston Villa to equal then beat Bobby Tambling’s goal record. His final season at Chelsea started off brightly with him scoring in the opening day win over Hull City and later in the season moved into fourth place in the all time Premier League goalscoring list but he was not on the pitch as often as he would have liked and at the end of the season his contract was not extended and he leaves Chelsea after playing 648 times for the club and scored 211 goals.
Lampard England
The final word can go to his club captain John Terry. “He is different class. He’s not just done it for one year and then tailed off as we have seen a lot of players do. We have seen him for the past four, five, six years playing at a top level, scoring goals, passing brilliantly and working on things he’s not good at in training.”