Position: Right back
From: Nottingham Forest - free transfer - July 1999
Record: Played: 12 Scored: 0
To: West Bromwich Albion - free transfer - June 2000
Career stats: Soccerbase
He was: Not Nigel Gibbs. Not even if you closed your eyes and tried to pretend really hard.
It was Stewart Scullion, Pat Rice, Wilf Rostron, Nigel Gibbs, David Bardsley, John Barnes, Nigel Callaghan, Bruce Dyer and Stuart
Slater all rolled into one. In the opponents' half, it combined dazzling skill and piercingly accurate crossing, with the addition
of lethal shooting when the chance arose. In defence, it allied awareness with thunderous tackling. It was magnificent, a one-man crusade.
It was the finest display by a wide player since the invention of football. It was Des Lyttle at Bradford.
Well, kind of. Some of us go to great lengths to emphasise the positive aspects of a particular player, attempting to counter the
numerous critics and whingers. Hence the fact that Des Lyttle's one truly notable performance - industrious, competitive and definitely
the outstanding Watford player at Valley Parade - has become more and more exaggerated with the passage of time. We
wanted him to be great, and pounced eagerly on the first (and last) indication that he might be.
Ironically, that was his final first team outing for the Hornets. He was relegated to the bench a week later as various regulars
returned from injury and subsequently went on loan to West Brom, doing enough to earn a permanent transfer.
The other eleven appearances were of variable quality, to put it politely. While I would stress that he was only occasionally as
atrocious as many claimed, he was nonetheless occasionally atrocious. At the start of the season, he was one of only two players in the
squad with Premiership experience...but it really didn't show.
If you ever needed to find Des Lyttle, you knew where to look. He was nearly always to be seen around the halfway line, huffing and puffing to
get forward in support of an attack and then huffing and puffing to get back as the opposition broke. Although this provided plenty of
opportunities for GT to bellow at him from the touchline, it did precious little for the team in either defensive or offensive departments. There was undoubtedly a gradual
improvement...but that's not enough in the Premiership, especially when you're competing for your place with a capable, experienced club legend.
For whatever reason, one thing has stuck in my mind. When Colin Payne interviewed Graham Taylor for "The Yellow Experience", he
noticed a Post-it note on the manager's desk. It said, simply, "DES LYTTLE". That, somehow, sums it all up.