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Played For Both: Dale v Rotherham United
Played For Both: Dale v Rotherham United
Thursday, 5th Mar 2020 14:11 by Chaff

This week, our “Played for Both” feature takes a look back at a former Miller and a former Daley. In fact, he had two loan spells and then signed permanent at Rochdale!

Nicky Adams, a Bolton lad who came up through the ranks at neighbours Bury which kick-started a fairly impressive footballing career. It’s seen Adams have numerous spells at Dale, Bury, Northampton, Leicester, Crawley, etc etc. In fact, he’s had more clubs than Tiger Woods and is still playing now!

His first spell at Rochdale saw him arrive on loan from Leicester. Keith Hill brought the winger to Dale in January 2009 in a two-month spell in which he was impressive. His only goal in a 14-game spell came away at Dagenham & Redbridge.

He re-joined Dale in October 2010 on loan from Brentford this time before joining on a permanent deal when the transfer window opened in January 2011 on an 18-month deal. A spell that would see him play for four different managers at Dale as it was Keith Hill that signed Adams but when Hill buggered off with Flicker to Barnsley, he played under Steve Eyre, Chris Beech and John Coleman before leaving Dale in the summer of 2012 to join Crawley Town on a free transfer. A move that baffled me at the time, but Adams evidently wanted to leave quite quickly! More known for his superb assist contribution than goals but Adams went onto play 92 games for Dale across his various spells and scored 5 goals.

As mentioned, Adams came through the youth ranks at Bury and was really quite impressive when he broke through. He even scored on his first team debut in a 1-0 win over Darlington and his stock immediately went up. After his second season as a professional at Bury he was awarded the Young Player Of The Year award and offered a new deal by the club but he turned it down.

Adams had impressed enough to be interesting bigger clubs and it was Leicester City in League One who came knocking for Adams. An initial £100,000 fee was paid that could rise to £225,000 and he signed a 3 year deal for Nigel Pearson’s men.

Adams himself admitted that his form at Leicester wasn’t really of the standard required and he soon found himself going out on loan to Rochdale, as mentioned above, and Leyton Orient after that. He only spent two years at The Walkers Stadium before leaving to join Brentford. He did manage 38 games at Leicester but only 12 of them were starts and only 5 of those starts were in the league.

His time at Leicester had come to an end and he left to head down to London town to sign for Brentford in the summer of 2010 despite Adams wanting to stay and fight for his place. His time at Brentford was a torrid one and he couldn’t settle at all in London and was sent back on loan to Rochdale where he rediscovered his old form. He only managed 10 games for Brentford and he left the club to join Rochdale on a permanent deal in January 2011. He recorded 14 assists in his spell at Dale and was impressive without necessarily getting the credit he always deserved. He scored his first for Dale that season came against Bury at Gigg Lane in a 4-2 win, but he was sent off later in the game for a second booking. His second goal that season came away at Preston in a 1-0 win. Both games were very rare high points of the entire Steve Eyre tenure.

Eyre was sacked before Christmas, Beech took temporary charge and then in came John Coleman and it seemed Adams wanted out of the club as soon as possible after that and he left the club to join Crawley Town in League One.

His spell at Crawley saw a huge return to form. He was superb. He played 53 games that season and scored 11 goals. A hugely impressive return for a wide man. He continued to be a first team regular at Crawley during the 2013/14 season but had been attracting interest from bigger clubs and in the January transfer window, he found himself on the move again, this time up the M1 to Rotherham United but his move was short lived as he went travelling again. Remember the more clubs than Tiger Woods gag?! This is what I mean.

Not sure why anyone would, but he went back to Bury in the summer of 2014 and had even dropped down a division to do so. He signed for an undisclosed fee on a big three-year deal. It could be because of the financial situation at Gigg Lane but he left after just one season and signed for Chris Wilder’s Northampton Town, again on a three-year deal but again he high-tailed it to pastures new after a year. Honestly, the guy gets about more than a gypsy!

Wherever he does go, he generally gets a lot of game time at League One and League Two level. He played 45 games for Northampton, scoring 3 goals

Carlisle was his next club where he played for Keith Curle. He joined on a two-year deal in May 2016. His first season saw Carlisle reach the playoffs but they were beaten by Exeter in the semi-finals but Adams played 48 games and scored 3 goals. The following season was Adams’ first injury hit one and he only managed 21 games, with no games after Carlisle’s 4-0 win over Yeovil in November 2017. He sat out the remainder of the season.

Another return to Bury followed in the summer of 2018. Can’t stay away can he?

His third and final spell with Bury was a very up and down affair. The club secured automatic promotion in the 2018/19 season with Adams in superb form. He played 53 games and scored 3 goals but his assists record was superb.

While the club was doing well on field, off the field, it was a shambles. Adams was very vocal about the financial issues and how he, and his team mates, weren’t being paid by the owner Steve Dale and as the club were expelled from the Football League before the start of the 2019/20 season. His twitter feed was brutally honest about the whole thing.

Adams’ speaks of it quite a lot in his open and honest interview on the I Had Trials Once podcast though some of the stories aren’t for the easily offended:

Adams left Bury in the summer and rejoined Keith Curle and Northampton Town. It’s been a mixed season for the Cobblers in League Two but now find themselves in the playoff spots having picked up form. Adams has scored 3 goals in 42 games so far this season and has been an ever present so far this season.

When he left Bury, I fully expected and hoped he’d end up reuniting with his friend Brian Barry-Murphy at Dale but it didn’t happen in the end and he dropped down to League Two. If Northampton carry on their form, there is every chance we’ll be meeting Nicky next season in League One, if we can stay up that is.

Photo: Action Images

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