Greg Tansey was our football league version of Chris Churchman. (Except when Greg scored long range goals, he meant it!). This comparison does not do him justice, however, and it says a lot that he’s one of the few players from the last of our football league days who has actually made something of his career, when most of our other ex players seem to have gone completely backwards.
Greg came through our academy and made his break into the first team under the stewardship of Jim Gannon (who else). In the 5 years he spent with us, he went on to make over 110 appearances and scored 14 goals (he was actually our top scorer in one of our relegation seasons).
This could all have been so different, however, he actually went on trial with Liverpool whilst Rafa Benitez was at the club and very nearly joined the merseyside giants, but at the last minute decided against it. Although, teammate and friend, Ryan Crowther did actually make the move and spent a few years there. The winger, unfortunately, did not get near to the first team and his career as a footballer seems to have gone backwards since that decision to join Liverpool.
Greg’s time at the club was certainly rocky, and he only seemed to break into the first XI permanently when we were on our way down from the hefty heights of league 1. Despite being part of an often poor, relegation destined squad, Greg managed to achieve league 2’s player of the month award as he finished the season with 11 goals in 41 games (He also scored our last 2 football league goals). This season was his last at County as he left to further his career with Scottish premiership side, Inverness CT, despite being offered a new deal (who could blame him for not taking it, we were only heading one way).
Greg flourished in his first season north of the border, and played a big part in the scottish sides season, as they consolidated their premiership status. He finished the season with 39 games and 5 goals, although Tansey did receive a controversial red card vs Celtic (which was later rescinded). Thistle did offer the midfielder a new deal at the end of the year but Tansey rejected the deal to move back to England to join up with league 1 Stevenage.
Tansey went straight into the first team and scored his first goal for the club early in September (a typical 30 yard effort). More than most of the 6 goals he scored for Stevenage that season were from outside the box. In the 18 months he spent at Boro, he played over 60 times and scored in 9 of those games. In January 2014, he decided to move back north to Inverness in a bid to ‘help them in Europe’.
The midfielder is still plying his trade at the Scottish club, as he continues to prove himself as a goal scoring midfielder. His current tally for Inverness (1st and 2nd spell) stands at 89 appearances, along with 10 goals. Overall, Tansey has made over 200 appearances for all clubs and has scored almost 40 goals. For those who’ve been around since the midfielder made his County debut in 2006, it seems as if he’s been around for an age. But in actual fact he’s only 26 years old and will more than likely carry on playing for a the best part of 10 years yet. There are many County fans that would welcome the passionate midfielder back with open arms, and you never know. Once he’s finished in the Scottish Prem, maybe we’ll be in a position to take him on again.
Thompson was a product of the rather successful youth system that was in place during the last decade. Despite only playing 9 times for the club, his performances and clear ability as a central defender attracted attention from premier league clubs, he eventually signed for Celtic at the end of the 2008-2009 season after County had gone into administration.
Thompson played 21 times (3 goals) for Celtic and was voted young player of the year. But he did not play a further part in Celtics success. Thompson moved on loan to a number of different clubs south of the border, never really settling anywhere. His clubs included Portsmouth, Peterborough, Rochdale and Colchester. In the 6 years since leaving County, Thompson has made only 80 first team appearances. After playing for Tranmere Rovers at the end of last season, Thompson is now a free agent at the relatively young age of 24. For a young defender who’s been capped by England U19’s, he should be able to find another club fairly easily at least at conference level. On the other hand, he could go the way of James Tunnicliffe, who struggled to make it at conference/north level before retiring at a relatively young age.
Gareth Owen was arguably one of our best defenders of the Gannon era, he was an ever-present in the 9-in-a-row football league record squad, and got County’s player of the season award at the first attempt. The season after, he captained the club to its first and only Wembley victory against Rochdale in the league 2 play offs, memorably wearing a face mask to ensure he was able to play at all.
Unfortunately for Owen, a falling out with Gannon the following season spelt the end of his County career and he went on to play for Yeovil on loan before moving to Port Vale permanently after a wrangle over his contract issues at County. A series of injuries blighted his time at Port Vale but despite this, he was a key member of their defence for a number of seasons. When Gannon became manager of Port Vale at the start of 2011, a number of rumours surfaced that Owen would leave, whilst other talk tipped him as the next captain. Injuries during this time again meant Owen couldn’t make the sort of impact he’d hope to.
Despite being offered a new contract at Vale, Owen was poised to leave the club at the end of the 2010-2011 season. Crewe were favourites to sign Gareth but former manager Micky Adams had just taken back over at the club and Owen reversed his decision and became a player coach at Vale for the following season. Injuries again meant a lot of time on the sidelines, but coaching and scouting work occupied his time. Before his departure in 2013, Owen never really got back into the Vale defence on a full-time basis.
Since his departure from Port Vale, Owen has not played despite only being 32 years old. He is currently a coach at Stoke City and has in the past sited a burning desire to get back into the game. Maybe Neil Young should give him a call?