So today it was confirmed that Rory Gaffney had been recalled by parent club Salford, to complete a move to Shamrock Rovers. So I am taking a look at his spell, and what went wrong.
From the get go, Gaffney was never a ‘wow’ signing. He was announced on a Saturday at 5pm, after a defeat. This was met with a wall of negativity by fans, who felt he was no better than what we had got, and we all questioned the timing. Rumours circulated that it was because Salford who demanded when it was announced, but obviously we will never find out the real reason.
His first couple of matches for us were not too bad. He seemed to run around a lot, he got stuck in, and held the ball up well. This was at a time when we were struggling to gel as a team, and struggled more when going forward. He wasn’t what I would call a ‘bright spark’ but he was at least showing some positivity.
It quickly became apparent though that despite his efforts, he was not going to ever be prolific for us. He was struggling to get on the scoresheet, and quickly the fans grew frustrated with him. Then came the ‘miss of the season’ competition. I forget which matches they were all in, but I specifically remember the Mansfield game, where Gaffney had 3 golden opportunities. One of which, was at a key point where we had fought back from 1-0 down, and were looking like we could go 2-1 up. He had one key opportunity where he was through on goal, a weak effort was collected by the keeper, who started the move that went out for a throw-in, and seconds later Walsall were 2-1 down.
That in itself wasn’t his fault, but the misses when in great positions, along with the teams general bad performances, heaped pressure, and a lot of stick his way. Then came the nail in the coffin. Darlington at home. Walsall were not playing well, and Gaffney wasn’t either, there was another of his ‘easier to miss than score’ moments, that was met with the Saddlers faithful venting their anger. Later in the game, there was a corner in-front of the lower tier. He decided to shush fans, a fatal move. The fans, understandably were not happy with the attitude given, by a player who they felt had not shown any form of quality to be arrogant about.
Fast forward to the fans forum, Gaffney had fallen out of the starting 11, and was only appearing, if at all, as a sub. Fans were wondering whether he was on his way back to Salford. The question was raised, to which Clarke replied that Gaffney had been working hard, and urged fans to get behind him. The point was raised about the Darlington game, and why we should support and get behind a player that will shush fans. DC took a second, admitted that he did not know about this (to which there was nods of agreement and voices agreeing with the fan about it) and that if that is the case, then Gaffney has made a ‘rod for his own back’.
After this, Gaffney was dropped from the squad completely, and to my memory, he did not feature again (he may have appeared on the bench). Instead, younger players have been put in that striker role on the bench.
Overall, there was never really a point where Rory looked like the signing DC thought he would be. Would it be different had he come in to a more settled and gelled team? Maybe, but that isn’t what happened.
Photo cred – Express And Star