With England defender Sol Campbell having announced his retirement from football, ADAM LORD remembers his day by the seaside, in his one and only appearance for Notts County.
Most reflections on Sol Campbell’s illustrious career will focus on his more than 70 caps for England or his brave crossing of the North London divide.
This blog will focus on one particular moment of the former Arsenal and Tottenham man’s career however, his one and only game in his bizarre spell at Notts County, a defeat against Sammy McIlroy’s Morecambe at Christie Park.
New Middle Eastern investors arrived at the County Ground in the summer of 2009, soon tempting Sven Goran Eriksson to come to the club as director of football and he in turn lured his former England defender to the County Ground in the August of that year
Campbell had just left Portsmouth and was considered by many to still have a career at the top level, even aged 35, but he dropped down to the Football League’s bottom tier on a five-year deal, reportedly with Premier League wages attached.
Fast forward to September 19 2009, and after a month working on his fitness, the former Tottenham man, arguably the best English defender of his generation, emerged from the tunnel at Christie Park.
And McIlroy’s side had organised quite the welcome party for him, led by who else, but then Shrimps skipper Jim Bentley.
One of the iconic images from the day, one that appeared across the Sunday newspapers the following day, and one that is now well and truly established in Shrimps folklore, is the moment Bentley got to grips with Campbell’s ample frame in a bid to fulfil his marking brief.
The look on the former England man’s face sums up the situation. It was a real welcome to League 2.
It was a great day for now Shrimps boss Bentley, who opened the scoring in a 2-1 win for the home side, in what was their first three-point haul of the 2009-10 season.
It was pretty much the opposite for the star attraction.
Appearing rusty and looking overweight Campbell was given a real working over by the Morecambe front two of Phil Jevons and Paul Mullin and generally had a torrid 90 minutes.
Whether it was what happened on the field, or the lack of what was happening off it, in terms of the Magpies’ plans to reach the Premier League, that was soon that, and Campbell left the club by mutual consent the Tuesday following his appearance by the seaside.
He was soon back training in more familiar territory with Arsenal and despite a season of upheaval, County were promoted from League 2 as champions come May.
Morecambe of course made the play-offs that season, but perhaps it’s better not to talk about that, and rather reflect on one of the more bizarre days in the Shrimps’ recent history.