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CCF Rebooted 23: David Lucas
Monday, 10th Jan 2022 11:53 by AtThePeake

The second goalkeeper that Steve Eyre turned to in the 2011/2012 season was the more experienced David Lucas.

Position: Goalkeeper

Arrived from: Swindon Town

Played : 2011-2012

Appearances : 16

Goals : 0

Left for: Birmingham City

It's easy to forget given the relative longevity of Josh Lillis in between the sticks at Spotland in the convening years, but for quite some time under Keith Hill, Steve Eyre and John Coleman, the figurative number one jersey at Spotland changed hands more regularly than the manager's position at Boundary Park.

Signed alongside the highly-rated loanee Jake Kean by Steve Eyre that summer, Lucas was added to bring some much needed experience to quite a young squad as he battled with Kean and later another loanee in Peter Kurucz for the starting spot during Dale's relegation campaign.

Born in Preston, Lucas came through the ranks at his hometown club Preston North End and that would be the club he would end up making the most appearances for in his career, racking up no fewer than 123 in the league over a ten year span from 1994 to 2004.

Having enjoyed first-team football at such a young age, Lucas was also awarded international honours, appearing for England U18s on no fewer than 5 occasions, plus appearing a further 4 times for the Under 20 squad in 1997.

Loan spells at Darlington and Scunthorpe convinced the Preston hierarchy to afford him more first-team football and he was a regular for several seasons before falling out of favour with Scottish manager Craig Brown in the 2003/2004 season and being sent on loan to Sheffield Wednesday as a result.

Two impressive loan spells at Hillsborough were enough to convince the South Yorkshire club to secure his signature on a permanent basis in the summer of 2004 and he would play the majority of the following campaign with the Owls as they secured promotion back to the Championship.

Injuries prevented Lucas from maintaining that form the following season despite starting the first 18 games of the campaign and after being ruled out for a lengthy spell in January 2006, he would play just two more games for Wednesday in the ensuing 12 months before moving to another South Yorkshire side in Barnsley.

Another injury sustained in only his second game with the Tykes saw him feature just three times at Oakwell before moving to Leeds in September 2007, remaining at the club for almost two seasons and featuring 16 times as back-up to Danish stopper Casper Ankergren during that spell.

After his release from Elland Road, Lucas would join League One Swindon Town, but again injuries would be his downfall. Despite being the number one choice throughout his first campaign, Lucas suffered a blow to his shoulder in a play-off semi-final win over Charlton and as a result missed out on the Wembley showpiece where the Robins slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Millwall.

The following season saw Lucas' feature a further 21 times, taking his tally to 65 appearances in Wiltshire, but he left the club that summer and returned to his native north-west to join the Dale in a joint player and coach role.

Originally second choice behind Kean, Lucas' only league appearance until late October came in a 1-3 home loss to Hartlepool, but when the Blackburn loanee began to suffer from injuries and a lack of form, Lucas took his place for the majority of November and December, memorably keeping a clean sheet in a 0-1 away win at his former club Preston.

In December, Lucas collided with team-mate Dean Holden in an away defeat to Sheffield United and was left unconscious for 20 minutes in a sickening moment at Bramall Lane. Thankfully he made a full recovery and later thanked his former PNE team-mate Richard Cresswell's quick-thinking in moving him into a recovery position following the clash.

Following the arrival of another loanee in Peter Kurucz, Lucas was again relegated to the bench for a lengthy period, until the West Ham man was injured in a clash with Lee Hughes and forced to return to East London, leaving Lucas back between the sticks for a period in March and April.

If I'm being completely honest, my memories of Lucas are hazy. While I do remember considering him a safe pair of hands in comparison to the unconfident and erratic Kean, I don't remember ever believing him to be a particularly commanding goalkeeper or making any saves of real note.

This was my first season living away from Rochdale at University and as the season stretched on my appetite to travel home for games diminished with relegation looming. I do remember us being under the cosh in that victory at Deepdale so he more than likely will have produced some big moments against his former club there, but the stats are damning.

In his 16 appearances, that victory over Preston was one of only two that Lucas featured in and in his final eight games in a Dale shirt, he conceded a total of 21 goals, which perhaps prompted John Coleman's decision to release him that summer.

Lucas joined Birmingham City as a back-up option that summer and featured in just one League Cup game against Barnet for the Blue before joining Fleetwood Town and his former Preston team-mates Graham Alexander and Chris Lucketti as part of the coaching staff while retaining his player registration.

He was forced into his debut in February of 2013 and transpired to concede four goals in just 30 minutes in a humiliating defeat to Burton Albion. He appeared in a 2-0 defeat to Aldershot the following week in what would be his final ever appearance in the Football League.

Lucas remained goalkeeping coach at Highbury Stadium for eight years before leaving this summer to become Head of Academy Goalkeeping at Premier League club Everton.

Photo: Action Images

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