One day you're a footballer, the next day you're not. It's that simple.
The history of professional football is littered with stories of players that have "lost it" overnight. Usually players will go into a process of slow decline over a period of time - the loss of that essential yard of pace, the scoring of fewer goals, gradually working their way down through the leagues on the slippery slope to football obscurity.
The transition from genuine, real-deal, pro footballer to Sunday-league-just-like-the-rest-of-us footballer can happen after a long lay off through injury. Others can find the magic has gone over the cricket season.
For a few unfortunates however, they wake up in the morning, turn up for the game as usual, run out onto the pitch and then completely fail to get within a country mile of the ball for ninety minutes. "Just an off game," they tell themselves. Then a bad day turns into a bad month. "Just a bad run - it's happened before, I'll get over it" our poor victims think, now starting to sweat a bit. But no. Not this time. This time it's gone for good - never to return.
Devon White was one such footballer.
The fact that Devon's "Day of Reckoning" coincided with the day he signed for Watford FC was doubly unfortunate, both for us and for him.
He had obviously been a good player in his time. His goal scoring record was comparable with any outside the top divisions for the past few years. Yet from his first game for the Hornets it was obvious to anyone with at least one functioning eyeball that Devon White was complete and utter sh!te. Any worries that the move upwards from Second to First Division football was a division too far for poor Dev were soon dispelled when Watford were relegated back to the level at which he had proved so effective for many years.
"He should be useful in this league," we all said. NO.
I can not recall a single Devon White-White-White performance where a certain well known phrase containing the words "BANJO" and "COW'S ARSE" didn't jump up before my eyes in big red capital letters.
By Christmas in our first season back in Division Two, it was all over and big-hearted Dev cut a very sad figure indeed. KJ and GT needed no more convincing and Devon was dropped for good. He was soon on his way back home to Notts County.
But you can never go home, can you. The footballer in Devon was no more. Dead. Deceased. Pushing up the daisies. Devon was an ex-footballer.
Welcome to the real word, Dev.
I have to take a stand on the Devon White's presence in "The Hall of Arse".... Devon will live on in my heart as a true Hornet Legend (in the
short-term listings that include Lee for his headers, Mo for his
scoring and Worrell Sterling for being so close to being brilliant
without ever quite managing it, but then we had Barnes to compare him
Other than Big Dev, I have never seen a professional football player
manage to dummy himself. But, whereas with most players this might be
considered a flaw, in his role as the "big danger man up front" it
enabled our "nippy young striker" to capitalise on all the space
available as the defenders (and Devon himself) tried to work out what
he was going to do.
Connolly's reputation was made by Big Dev. Sure, Dev scored a few
himself (and not always when he was trying to pass the ball to another
player), but he was a PRESENCE in the opposition penalty box which
pulled their defence out of shape allowing the Hornets space that
otherwise wasn't there.
He reminded me of George Reilly who was always underrated but was a
perfect teammate for Mo Johnston.
Of course, as a pairing, the partnership failed when half of it
stopped playing... but the half that deserves the disgust was Connolly,
who played crap all through his last season with us, I suspect
Sure, Dev was no Barnes... but we wasn't too far from Luther's
style... He tried, He never gave up, He never dropped his head. The
two weaknesses in his play (unlike Luther) were his inability to take
the ball with his feet and the fact that the Empire State Building
could turn and accelerate faster than he could. Still, when the ball
was passed in front of him with space to accelerate, he did eventually
start motoring and defenders just bounced off him. And in the box with
a high ball coming in... he never stood a chance but nor did the two
or three defenders marking him, giving his striking partner a better
than even chance of scoring.
Now, GT decided that he had no use for Big Dev and so we parted
company and I have no right to criticise God. Still, that doesn't make
it fair to include Dev in "The Hall of Arse".
Maybe we need a new section, perhaps called "Coulda bin heros", for
those players like Dev, Worrell, Jimmy Gilligan, Nathan Lowndes, Jason
Lee, Lee Sinnott and perhaps Jan Lohman, who might well have made it to
our all time top ten if they hadn't failed due to injury, poor timing,
lack of opportunity, too many slightly better players around or plain
lack of talent but somehow have a charm nonetheless.