Never fall in love with a loan player. That’s advice that was never given to me.
Luckily, up until I was 30 (ish), I didn’t have to. Loans tended to be for a week or four, then they’d bugger off before you could fall in love. Paul Williams and John Cornforth were two I might have cried about when they left, but they were hardly here in the first place. No, not until loans started being for a full season was it easy to be attached. That was certainly the case with today’s subject, Louis Dodds.
Forward 40 (4) Apps 9 Goals
Born 8th October 1986
2006–2008 Leicester City 0 (0), 2006 Northwich Victoria (loan) 6 (3), 2007 Rochdale (loan) 12 (2), 2007–2008 Imps (loan), 2008–2016 Port Vale 289 (51), 2016–2018 Shrewsbury Town 47 (8), 2018–2019 Chesterfield 12 (0), 2018–2019 → Port Vale (loan) 12 (0), 2019–2020 Chorley 17 (0), 2020–2021 Hednesford Town 11 (3), 2021– Hanley Town
Dodds could have been a victim of timing; he arrived during a very tough period for the club. We’d appeared in our final play-off semi-final of a five-year run (although we didn’t know it at the time) and arrivals were understated. He was just a young wide player signed on loan by John Schofield from Leicester City, at the time bucking a trend; rarely did we sign players on loan for a full season, and rarely did talented youngsters come to Lincoln City. He was certainly rated by Leicester; he won Academy Player of the Year in 2006 having scored 65 goals in three seasons and was described by the Foxes management as the most natural finisher at the club.
Sadly, his arrival was understated in a summer of poor recruitment by the club, but Dodds turned out to perhaps be the best of the bunch. He was lively and chipped in with a couple of goals before Schofield was sacked; one of which came as we won 3-1 at Mansfield in a rampant display. We beat Accrington 2-0 at the Bank a week later, with him scoring, and the play-offs looked likely. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, despite his third in four matches as we went down 2-1 against Bradford City.
By the time he bagged his next goal, in a 4-1 win against Barnet, John Schofield had left the club, but Dodds kept his place under Peter Jackson. He netted a couple more, earning us a point at Bury, and a mere consolation as we went down away at Rotherham. He did earn us three points at Shrewsbury, opening the scoring early and then winning us the game five minutes from time. He then scored our goal of the season against Wycombe Wanderers which was his fourth in six games. His Imps career then faded as he failed to bag in ten matches. It wasn’t easy to stay settled in a side experiencing upheaval, flirting with relegation and generally underperforming, but Dodds certainly managed it.
Most fans had hoped he would move to City permanently, and he even suggested he might. He didn’t; this was the summer of the Magnificent Seven and it seemed there was no room at the inn for the talented young player. Instead, he rejected a new contract offer from Leicester and opted instead to sign for Port Vale who had just been relegated. He resisted the temptation to score past us the following season, waiting until the 2009/10 campaign before registering a second-half winner for Vale at Sincil Bank.
He stayed at Vale for eight years, and on the final day of the 2008/09 season, he netted for them against Barnet in a 2-1, Sadly, he couldn’t repeat the feat two years later in a repeat of the fixture; a failure to score in the final game against Barnet in 2011 saw City relegated. To be fair, our failure to get a point in eleven games had more to do with it, but still, he could have done us a favour! After all, he had netted a hattrick as they beat Morecambe 7-2 the week before.
He got the Vale Goal of the Season the following year, something of a speciality for him, before winding up playing as a second striker behind Tom Pope. He left for Shrewsbury in the summer of 2016, and was part of their squad (club squad, not matchday squad) when we beat them in the EFL Trophy Final, although he left a few weeks later. Ironically, he scored the final goal of his career as a Football League player in the EFL Trophy for the Shrews against his long-term employer Port Vale.
In recent years, Dodds has drifted down the divisions and was last playing for Hanley Town.