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CCF Rebooted 18: Neal Trotman
Sunday, 2nd Jan 2022 13:53 by AtThePeake

Having tested positive for COVID, I've suddenly found myself with some time to attack a few CCF articles and what better way to fight off the isolation blues than by writing about former Dale defender Neal Trotman.

Position: Centre-back

Arrived from: Preston

Played : 2011

Appearances : 12

Goals : 0

Left for: Chesterfield

Neal Trotman arrived at Dale in the summer of 2011 with a decent reputation, adding to the general feeling of excitement around the club that we could genuinely kick on having made some intriguing signings under new manager Steve Eyre.

And perhaps there's never been a more misplaced sense of optimism at Spotland as Eyre's new signings quite simply failed miserably in continuing the good work done by previous boss Keith Hill and perhaps Neal Trotman was the embodiment of that failure in the opening months of what turned out to be a relegation campaign.

Having come through the Burnley youth system before joining Oldham aged 18 in 2005, Trotman actually had a strong start to his career. A productive loan spell with Halifax helped his burgeoning reputation before he was jettisoned into the Latics' first-team the following year, quickly impressing enough to convince Championship side Preston North End to splash £500,000 on his signature before his 22nd birthday.

Injuries set his promising career back during his time at Deepdale and he ended up making just three league appearances for the club, spending time out on loan at Colchester, Southampton and Huddersfield before returning to Boundary Park and playing against Dale in an 18 game spell back with his former club.

When he was finally released by Preston in 2011, he was snapped up by Dale despite interest from elsewhere, but to say his career never really got going at Spotland would be a bit like saying Steve Eyre wasn't the best manager we've had in the club's history.

In Trotman's 12 league appearances, Dale managed just one victory. He was sent off in a 2-0 derby defeat to rivals Oldham Athletic, scored an own goal in a 4-2 defeat at Stevenage and generally looked completely out of his depth in a side that had already set off spiralling towards relegation.

Cumbersome and clumsy, Trotman was among several players in that Dale side to come under criticism not just from the fans but from the coaching staff and he found himself sent on loan to Chesterfield in November, with Dean Holden coming the opposite way. By January, the move to Derbyshire was made permanent.

At Chesterfield, Trotman was quickly made captain, leaving Dale fans pondering quite what had happened during his time at Spotland which was punctuated by moments of madness alongside generally inept and unassured defending to the point where he almost became a byword for incompetence such was the lack of ability shown in his short time with the club.

He would make a total of 54 league appearances for Chesterfield with his time there again beset by injuries, before moving to Plymouth to be re-united with John Sheridan, who had managed him in Derbyshire as well as at Oldham earlier in his career.

After one season at Home Park, he dropped into non-league to join Bristol Rovers, where he made 19 appearances and scored once in a campaign that saw the Gas return to the Football League via the play-offs.

Despite that promotion, Trotman retired from the game that summer aged just 28 as the injuries that had plagued him throughout his career finally took their toll. Now aged 34, he's currently working as a football agent and psychotherapist.

Photo: Action Images

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