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CCF Rebooted 31: Dean Holden
CCF Rebooted 31: Dean Holden
Wednesday, 22nd Jun 2022 14:29 by AtThePeake

The final arrival as a result of Steve Eyre's scattergun approach to recruitment was Dean Holden, who originally joined the club on loan in November 2011.

Position: Right-back/Centre-back

Arrived from: Chesterfield

Left for: Walsall

Played : 2011-2012

Appearances : 21

Goals : 0

A no-nonsense defender, Holden appeared to be the kind of signing this young squad desperately required to help steer it away from relegation trouble but by the end of his spell it became evident that his best days had passed.

Having been born in nearby Swinton and playing for Dean's Sports in Salford, the former boyhood club of one Ryan Giggs, Holden progressed through the ranks at Bolton Wanderers and made his first-team debut for the Trotters in 1999.

Appearing fairly often as a back-up player in the 1999/2000 campaign as the club finished in 6th place, he appeared in just one Division One match the following season as the Whites finally enjoyed play-off success and secured promotion to the Premier League.

Having broken his leg early in the season, Holden spent six weeks during that campaign on-loan at Valur Reykjavik in Iceland to aid his recovery, but he was always likely to find opportunities limited in the Premier League and instead opted to join Oldham Athletic, again on loan, at the start of the 2001/2002 season.

After making 23 appearances and scoring twice during that spell, Holden made the move permanent the following summer and although he would be plagued by injuries in the following campaign he was a mainstay at right-back over the next few seasons at Boundary Park.

Having made over 100 league appearances for Latics, he dropped down a division in 2005 to join Peterborough United, where again he was a regular starter over an 18 month spell, making 56 appearances and scoring four goals to prompt a move north of the border to join Falkirk, even earning a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad a few months after the switch to Stirlingshire although he never actually managed to win a full cap.

He suffered another agonising leg break a year into his Falkirk career and missed out on the 2008 Scottish Cup Final defeat to Rangers as a result, eventually returning to England in 2009 after making 48 appearances for the Bairns.

After a consistent enough season and half with Shrewsbury, playing 50 games, Holden again found himself on the move, playing six times during a loan spell at Rotherham before joining Chesterfield, with whom he lifted the League Two title in 2011 after 17 appearances and two goals.

Another 14 appearances with another goal followed in League One before his move to Rochdale in a surprising swap that saw Neal Trotman head in the opposite direction, with both players initially signing loan deals.

It certainly seemed to be more of a beneficial move to us at first as Holden brought a calming influence to a struggling backline that Trotman had been a serious issue in and he played a key role in the side earning clean sheets against Preston, Yeovil and Walsall during the loan spell, being moved from his familiar right-back role into the centre of defence.

When Chris Beech temporarily replaced Steve Eyre, he moved to give Holden a six-month permanent contract, but soon after his form deteriorated alongside the team's and confidence was low around the squad.

John Coleman left Holden out the team for a while once he was appointed and it appeared that once again the defender was struggling for fitness, but his reintroduction a month later coincided with a run of two clean sheets in three games and it appeared the sandy-haired stopper had again found his rhythm at the heart of the Dale backline.

However, Dale's season flatlined not long after and although we picked up a couple of home wins over Oldham and Exeter with Holden in the side, his age was starting to show and he was never particularly adept with the ball, preferring a more old-fashioned defensive approach which arguably the rest of the defence had lacked in fairness.

In the summer, Coleman decided to release Holden and would end up replacing him with some more youthful defenders such as Joe Rafferty, Rhys Bennett and Ryan Edwards. Perhaps surprisingly given his age, the defender was however able to remain in League One, joining Walsall.

After making just 29 appearances in two and a half years at the Bescot Stadium - the majority in the first of those years - Holden hung up his playing boots and returned to former club Oldham to begin a coaching career, linking up with former Chesterfield team-mate Lee Johnson.

Holden took in a brief interim spell as manager following Lee Johnson's departure to Barnsley before returning to his role as assistant to both Darren Kelly and David Dunn, but when he was sacked alongside the ex-Blackburn midfielder in 2016, he returned to Walsall as a coach for a seven-month spell before again linking up with Johnson, this time at Bristol City.

After almost four years of working under Johnson at Ashton Gate, Holden took the hotseat upon the manager's dismissal in July 2020. He lasted until February 2021, when he was sacked after a poor run of form with the club sitting in mid-table in the Championship.

Two months later, he was appointed as Michael O'Neill's assistant manager at Stoke City, where he remains at the time of writing.

Photo: Action Images

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