CCF Rebooted 25: David Ball
Wednesday, 12th Jan 2022 11:53 by AtThePeake
Next up in the CCF Rebooted series is a loan player during the 2011/2012 season that actually looked fairly competent in striker David Ball.
Arrived from: Peterborough United
Played : 2011-2012
Appearances : 14
Goals : 3
Left for: Peterborough United (end of loan)
In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And in the kingdom of below-average footballers, the slightly above-average footballer is seen as his side's saviour, even when salvation is, in truth, beyond them.
Yet another of Steve Eyre's Manchester City connections, David Ball had been on the books at the Citizens for no fewer than 14 years from the age of seven when he eventually left the club for Peterborough United in January 2011
A prolific goalscorer in the Premier League club's youth ranks, he never featured in a first-team game although was included in the first-team squad on one occasion - an infamous 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford where Michael Owen scored a last-gasp winner in the Manchester derby for United.
Having scored twice in 18 appearances while on loan at Swindon Town, Ball had impressed Peterborough United boss Darren Ferguson in the first-half of the 2011/2012 season, prompting a bid for his services which was accepted by City.
He scored five times in 21 appearances for the Posh over the remainder of that season as they secured promotion to the Championship via the play-offs, with Ball appearing in the play-off final victory over Huddersfield Town from the substitutes bench.
With game time less forthcoming in the Championship, Ball opted to re-unite with former City youth coach Steve Eyre at Rochdale by joining on loan and he was immediately instated into the starting eleven, scoring on his debut in a 4-2 defeat to Stevenage.
Just a few days later and Ball would score again in his second game, the 2-4 win at Gigg Lane over rivals Bury. Having been born in nearby Whitefield, appearing in this game would surely have been a big moment for Ball and he certainly played like it that day, leading the line in what was surely the best match of Steve Eyre's short reign in charge of the club.
Given how poor some of the performances had been by other newcomers to the squad, Ball's energy and directness made him an immediate hit with the supporters. He scored another the following week in a 2-3 home defeat to Charlton and disappointingly as he seemed to be building a partnership with another former City apprentice in Ashley Grimes, he was recalled by Peterborough in October following an injury to Lee Tomlin.
Once Posh' injury woes had eased, Ball was allowed to return to Dale, but by this point the slide in form had become an alarming one and Dale were playing with a complete lack of confidence which clearly had an effect on a player that had been seemingly been playing effecitvely on instinct and adrenaline in his first spell.
When another City youngster Harry Bunn arrived on loan in November, there was a flash of possibility that the two would link up well, but neither were able to resuscitate Dale from their malaise at this stage and Ball would fail to score in the seven games he played in his second loan spell with the club.
Back at Peterborough, Ball played a handful more games but was placed on the transfer list in April of 2012, finding himself the victim of a large squad at London Road and falling down the pecking order as a result. He was linked with a return to Spotland by optimistic Dale fans that summer, but was instead snapped up by the ambitious Fleetwood Town on a three year deal.
In five years at Highbury Stadium, Ball was a a near ever-present, playing 179 times and racking up 41 goals in the process, as well as helping the club to secure promotion to League One in 2013/2014 alongside his former club Rochdale. His stunning chip against neighbours Preston the following year was also nominated for the Puskas award (video below).
After scoring 14 times in his final season at Fleetwood, Ball secured a move to Rotherham United, where he would find the net eight times in 33 outings in 2017/2018. However, the step-up to the Championship would again prove too difficult and he would make just one appearance at that level for the Millers before being loaned out to Bradford City, where he scored five times in 35 matches.
With his Rotherham contract expiring, Ball made the brave decision to move abroad and join New Zealand outfit Wellington Phoenix in 2019. He remains with the A-League club to this day and is currently in his third campaign with them, so far scoring 12 times in 55 appearances and winning the club's Player of the Year award in 2019/20.
Photo: Action Images
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