In the summer the signing of Liam Hearn was perhaps the one thing that really sparked my belief that we could get promoted this season. His goals would be invaluable in any push towards the top spot, or indeed a top five spot. You’d therefore think I would be delighted with news today that he’s turned down a couple of loan moves to fight for his place, instead I’m feeling very indifferent to it.
We can’t argue that his goals weren’t important in the first part of the season. When he played he looked lethal and his partnership with Rhead threatened to see us enjoy at least a two legged semi final at the end of the season. Then came that December afternoon when news broke of his loan to Barrow. I was gutted as many were, but unlike many I also vowed to welcome him back with open arms as those all important goals may be needed post January.
He returned around the same time that our form returned, but once again he found himself out of the side due to injury. This time however we didn’t fail to win a game. This time we started scoring a few goals from elsewhere.
The thing is today’s announcement is just too little, too late. Elsewhere on my blogs I talked about 2005 and the Toner / Richardson incident possibly costing us promotion to League One, and I feel the Liam Hearn incident may have cost us in the same way this season. During our eleven game winless run you have to feel that a fit Liam Hearn might have scored a few goals, maybe won us a few points. Just two wins in that spell would see us tucked in nicely for a play off spot.
Since the reshuffle up front we’ve thrived with ten points from twelve whilst the most natural finisher in our squad sits on the sidelines watching on. It’s March now with the final weeks of the season upon us and for the first time in a long while our match day squad looks quite strong without Liam Hearn. Our chances of the play offs no longer hinge on him firing on all cylinders or scoring a few goals because we’ve got James Caton and Jack Muldoon alongside Rhead. Liam Hearn has become a peripheral figure with no major part to play.
So had he decided in December to spurn a loan move perhaps it would have helped cement his status as a fans favourite. Instead he took another option and derailed our attack on the top of the table. Instead he mooched off to Barrow leaving us without that recognised player to sit next to Rhead. In my opinion that moment cost us a seasons work.
Today is no more than a token gesture, a last gasp chance to repair his relationship with the fans. A couple of goals in January were a good start but when injury reared its head again his chance was pretty much gone. Like a nasty break up we’ve learned to live without Liam, we’ve adapted and become a better team. Now he’s back he is nothing more than a reminder of what could have been.
Should he get on the bench in place of McDaid? Yes, probably. There’s no starting eleven place for him, but a team can always use a good goal scorer. The thing is now he is just somebody that we could utilise, not somebody we need to utilise. Robbie McDaid has fought for his place on the bench and it’d be grossly unfair to lose it now, but football isn’t about fair, it’s about winning games.
Whatever happens now Liam Hearn probably won’t be here next season, but rest assured he’ll find another club willing to pay his wages and try and keep him on track. His decision to turn down loan moves today is probably more of an attempt to shed his ‘troubled player’ tag than a desire to fight for his team. After all a desire to fight for a team is ingrained in you and evident for all to see (if you need an example see Bradley Wood) and despite a few goals Liam simply hasn’t shown it.
Next season I’d much rather see James Caton signed up than I would Liam Hearn. I support a player who I think can add to the squad, hence my stance in January. However I think that Liam has done as much as he can for us and for the rest of this season we should focus on those that are going to be here next season, a season which represents our best chance to get back in the league. A season where we’ll need player we know will fight for the cause and won’t go missing at crucial times. A season where our young squad can write their names into Lincoln City folklore, and a season where the only place you’ll see Liam Hearn is sprawled on the injury table at Barrow.