Come On, Mr. Bonser, Get Clayton Signed Up
When Richard Money secured the signature of Clayton Ince in the summer of 2006 little would he have known just how big a favourite the big man would become. Quite simply, the decision to bring the Trinidadian to Bescot was the single most important one ‘Dicky’ would make during his eventful time with us, as he brought in not only a very good goalkeeper but a huge presence around the club and a great calming influence which would quickly spread around the squad.
The 2006/7 season was always going to be one of the more crucial ones for our club as the supporters looked for a positive reaction to our thoroughly depressing relegation of the previous season. As was the case with most fans I certainly didn’t see us ending up as champions and a stab at the play-offs seemed to be the best we might hope for. Clayton came in and was excellent from day one. Straight away we regained the defensive solidity we’d never had under you-know-who and we were once again able to win games by scoring a single goal and, a lot of the time, when we hadn’t played particularly well. What a boost it must have been to the back four to know that the the man behind would come for crosses and actually catch the ball, with none of that irritating penchant for punching everything that so many ‘keepers display these days.
More than spreading confidence in his abilities among the rest of the players, Clayton also managed the same feat with us supporters. There was always something reassuring about seeing him between the posts on a regular basis after the ludicrous, endless tinkering with the starting eleven seen during the previous season. Our entire, ultimately successful, promotion challenge had Ince as it’s foundation and as the man looked up to by the rest of the team. Thanks to the magnificent season enjoyed by Dean Keates and the fact that Clayton isn’t a particularly ‘flashy’ player it would be easy, perhaps, for some people to overlook Ince’s contribution. But not me. I voted for him as player of the year and I’d still drink his bathwater if he asked me!
On to last season and there was more of the same between the posts, complete reliability and a calm head when all around were panicking after the controversial sales of Fox and Dann. Clayton, you just knew, would always maintain his cool even as he saw a potentially exciting season hit the skids after Christmas. What might have happened if a lesser man had been between the posts as defensive gremlins set in? Things could then have gone disastrously wrong as two members of a solid defence left not long after the goal of Tommy Mooney had dried up.
This season is seeing the same old Clayton. He’s surely aware of his supreme popularlty among the Saddlers’ support and this is surely a useful lever when trying to nudge the chairman into sorting out the new contract Clayton richly deserves and surely has to be given.
He’s said that he wants to stay and must know that not one supporter wants him to be allowed to leave. He can’t be asking for the earth as no-one joins the Saddlers with an eye on getting rich. The man seems to have two or three good years left in him and the board must do its level best to ensure that those years are spent at Bescot. We should give him whatever he wants and the attitude should not be one of ‘Can we afford to give it to him?’ but, rather, one of ‘Can we afford not to give it to him?’
So, Mr. Bonser, Clayton is our best player of the last three seasons, the most consistent, the one we’ve relied on more than any other and one who wants to stay. This, as they say, is a no-brainer. Clayton is a superb goalkeeper, he’s a man the younger players clearly look up to and a wonderful role model for our young supporters. You MUST do what you can to keep him with us. He’s so much more than just a member of the first team squad. Failure to keep him will send out all of the wrong messages to us fans and you will live to regret it.
Should Clayton leave then he can do so knowing he owes us nothing and that he’ll go with our grateful thanks. But you must not let it happen.