My first signing… Ossie Ardiles
With no game this weekend following our FA Cup defeat at Fulham, it’s a good time to look back at one of our former players. In this first of a new feature, a review of various Town managers’ first signings over the past 20 years, starting in 1989 with Ossie Ardiles’ first signing. For the purposes on this feature I won’t be including a player signed to also perform an assistant or coaching role.
Ossie Ardiles’ first signing was Shaun Close on the 8th September 1989. Shaun signed from Division Two (current Championship) side AFC Bournemouth for an undisclosed fee. Born on 8th September 1966, Shaun was a centre forward who started his career in the Tottenham Hotspur youth team, later making 9 appearances but failing to score any goals until he left Spurs in 1988. His time at Spurs coincided with Ossie’s time at the club and evidently he must have made some positive impression on Ossie to call on Shaun shortly after becoming manager at Town.
After leaving Spurs in 1988, Shaun had a short spell at Halmstad in Sweden, later joining AFC Bournemouth in 1988, making 39 appearances and scoring 8 goals.
A centre-forward should score some goals, even a squad player. At Town Shaun perfected the fine art of being a complete failure on the pitch over his 4 seasons as his total match record in all competitions shows.
1989/1990 season – 4 apps (+11 subs) and 0 goals
1990/1991 season – 5 apps (+10 subs) and 1 goal
1991/1992 season – 4 apps (+10 subs) and 1 goal
1992/1993 season – 2 apps (+7 subs) and 0 goals
Total – 15 starts plus 38 sub appearances and 2 goals
Statistics don’t lie. His first goal didn’t come until a League Cup (Rumbelows) second leg tie against Darlington. Another sixteen months passed until Shaun’s second , and only other Town goal in a 5-3 defeat at Oxford United. Mainly used as a substitute he failed to make any impact and was eventually released after the Wembley play-off win against Leicester in May 1993. Evidently, Shaun was one of Ossie’s least successful signings of an otherwise great spell in charge. It’s not clear whether his signing was based on anything other than Ossie’s memories of Shaun’s time at Spurs, perhaps wishful hoping of an initial bargain an first joining Town.
After leaving Swindon, Shaun joined Barnet where in 27 league appearances in 1993/1994 he hit 2 goals in Division Three (League One) and was released at the end of the season. He clearly wasn’t league standard and moves into the non-league to Bishop’s Stortford in the Isthmian League, where he finishes his career.
Now long retired from football, Shaun is the publican of The George Public House in Hoddesdon and organiser of the S.O.B.S. Golf Society.