CCF Rebooted 53: Craig Curran
Tuesday, 22nd Aug 2023 11:37 by AtThePeake
Craig Curran made just four substitute appearances in League Two for Dale in 2012/2013 - so don't feel too bad on yourself if you have no recollection of his short-lived spell at the club.
Arrived from: Carlisle United
Left for: Limerick
Although he later showed himself to be a very capable player, Craig Curran will probably look back on his short stint at Rochdale as a case of wrong club, wrong time in what developed into an interesting career.
Another Liverpudlian-born player signed by John Coleman, Curran came through the ranks with Tranmere Rovers and unlike many apprentices, managed to nail down a first-team place rather quickly with his first club. Having signed his first professional contract in 2006, he would make his debut in 2007 and score with his first touch in his first home match against Brighton and before the end of the season he even had a first senior hat-trick to his name after scoring three first-half goals in a home win over Brentford.
As a young player, he continued to find the net regularly in his limited chances in the first-team at the start of the following season, but as the campaign progressed the goals dried up and he was criticised for a perceived lack of fitness at times. Injuries would continue to limit his effectiveness in the 2008/2009 campaign too, but he was a near ever-present in his final year with Tranmere in 2009/2010, scoring five times as he made 43 appearances for the Whites that season.
That summer however, Curran rejected a new deal on offer from Tranmere to make the switch to League One rivals Carlisle United and he enjoyed a terrific first season with the Cumbrians, operating largely as a second striker and scoring eight times in 45 appearances. Curran also earned silverware in this campaign, playing five times as Carlisle lifted the EFL Trophy, starting at Wembley Stadium in the final as United defeated Brentford 1-0 thanks to a Peter Murphy goal.
The following campaign however saw Curran in the treatment room regularly again and as Carlisle strengthened their frontline, the Liverpudlian found first-team opportunities much harder to come by. With Paddy Madden and Lee Miller keeping him out of the team, he made a loan switch to Morecambe where he scored once in seven appearances, but didn't do enough to secure himself a new contract at Carlisle and he found himself without a club in the summer of 2012.
With no suitors for a more permanent contract, Curran initially joined Dale on non-contract terms in August and he was introduced from the bench on a handful of occasions but flattered to deceive, clearly struggling to meet the pace required for League Two football. At no point did he look like the tricky, pacey attacker that had at times been such a threat for both Tranmere and Carlisle and as Coleman turned to other options, Curran was loaned out to Chester.
After scoring an impressive seven times in just 11 appearances with the Cestrians including a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Bishop's Stortford, it maybe seemed that Curran still had a future at Dale - but he would feature in the matchday squad just once following Keith Hill's appointment as manager as an unused substitute in a 1-1 home draw with Chesterfield before he was again sent out on loan, this time to Irish Premier League outfit Limerick.
Three goals in 13 appearances at Markets Field were enough to secure a permanent deal upon his release from Spotland, and he scored four more times in a further 17 appearances for the Super Blues before making his way back to England to join Nuneaton Town where he scored once in a three month spell that encompassed 13 appearances.
Given his stock seemed quite low at this point, Curran must've been delighted to be handed a chance in the Scottish Premiership in the January of the 2014/2015 campaign as he signed a short-term deal with Ross County, a club where he appeared to find a home after a rather nomadic spell since leaving Carlisle. A debut goal against Dundee was the first of five scored that season as he helped the Dingwall-based outfit retain their top-tier status.
Curran would spend three more full seasons at Ross as the club established themselves in the Scottish Premiership and operating either on the right side of a front three or as an attacking midfielder, Curran scored a total of 23 times for the Staggies in 107 appearances but in 2018, upon the club's relegation, he left to join Dundee United.
Despite signing a three year deal with the Terrors, Curran lasted just six months at Tannadice Park and after three goals in 16 appearances he opted to make one of the shortest journeys in football for his next move, leaving Dundee United to return to the Premiership with rivals Dundee - but he was unable to find the net in his 14 outings for the Dens Park club and suffered another relegation at the end of that season.
That ill-fated move signalled the end of his time in Scotland and Curran instead moved to Wales in 2019, joining Connah's Quay Nomads, where he racked up 13 goals in 53 appearances over three years before joining Airbus UK, where he failed to score in any of his eight appearances in 2022/23 and he spent a short spell on loan with Marine. At the time of writing he is without a club ahead of the 2023/24 campaign but according to his LinkedIn profile he is the CEO of Flava Pouches, the UK's first manufacturer of nicotine pouches.
Photo: Action Images
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