Do You Remember: Lee Ridley?

Credit Graham Burrell

I’m getting this one in late; it’s been a tough week for a lot of reasons, and I’ve done my best to get content to you when I can.

This feature should be easy; I find a player covered in my A-Z who played for both teams, embellish the narrative a bit, stick a photo or two in and away we go. It’s why I started the series; you like to think about old players and I can get one ready quickly so you’ve always got something fresh to read. That’s not how today’s turned out, mainly because I steer clear of the obvious one (John Finnigan), try not to be too recent (Ellis Chapman) and have already done Trevor Carson. Seriously, how many Saturdays will we play a team he represented?

Ridley was a full back who made his name playing for Scunthorpe United. He was there from 2000 to 2007, although he was only a fringe player when we met them in the 2002/03 play-offs.

In his final year with The Iron, he made just 20 senior appearances a signed for Cheltenham in the summer of 2007, looking for more regular football. He had helped the club to promotion out of League One, and played against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup, but he wanted to play regular football. Sadly, for him at least, he didn’t settle easily at Whaddon Road and made a loan move to Darlington, a journey of more than 200 miles, in November. He was part of the Quakers side that hammered us 4-0, at home, over Christmas 2007. That performance clearly made an impression, enough to convince Peter Jackson he’d be worth a go in our side.

Credit Graham Burrell

He played for Darlington against Rochdale on New Year’s Day 2008, losing 3-1. Four days later he got his revenge, as he joined us on loan and was back at Spotland as Jamie Forrester and Lee Frecklignton gave us a 2-0 win. It was a tough time for the Imps; Jacko side were battling to rescue a disastrous start to the season, which had seen popular coach John Schofield axed.

Ridley made 15 solid appearances at left-back for City, always looking composed and assured in the defence. His initial one month loan lasted until April, and he played his last game as we ran out 2-1 winners at Chester City. In that time we kept clean sheets against Rochdale, Accrington, Dagenham and Wycombe.  His spell gave him a push back at his parent club, who were in League One at the time. He made 33 appearances in all competitions in 2008/09, and as we struggled in Jacko’s only full season in charge, Ridley appeared against the likes of Leicester City and Leeds United.

He made 29 appearances for them the year after, which had seen them relegated to our division., Ironically, he scored his only Cheltenham league goal on the opening day of the season against Grimsby; he would later play for the Cods, who were relegated to the Blue Square Premier just as he signed. The following season injuries hit hard, and his contract was terminated around the same time we terminated Steve Tilson’s deal as manager.

He later played for Gainsborough, Grantham and Bottesford and worked at Scunthorpe United’s charity arm, Scunthorpe United Community Sport and Education Trust, where he delivered the National Citizen Service.