Notts County have been busy in the transfer window this summer, sparking belief that they may go one better than last season’s play-off finish.
In the end, Wycombe pipped them to the final promotion place, meaning Kevin Nolan’s side missed out on an automatic promotion their early season form deserved. In the play offs, Coventry City finished their lingering League One aspirations, despite the Magpie being on the fringes of the top three all season.
County lost just three league games before Christmas, but they had lost a further four before Valentine’s Day. Whether it was aging legs, a lack of experience in the centre of the park or losing Ryan Yates after his Forest recall, something went wrong.
They steadied the ship, but just eight wins in 20 shattered their hopes of a League One place. This season they aim to go one better and their recruitment suggests they might.
Kane Hemmings, Kristian Dennis and Enzio Boldewijn have all arrived in a blaze of publicity, but it may be an old hand from the red side of Nottingham that sparks the jubilant scenes they believe are coming in May. David Vaughn is no spring chicken, he’s barely an autumn rooster, but at 35-years old he hasn’t quite finished yet.
The former Welsh international has almost 500 senior appearances to his name, spanning clubs such as Blackpool, Sunderland and Forest. It is with the latter that he’s spent his twilight years, making 111 outings in a five season stay across a loan spell and a permanent move.
Last season he appeared 14 times in the Championship, still able to impose himself on matches as well as he ever could. His last game came on January 30th as Forest lost to Preston, but Aitor Karanka moved swiftly to replace the veteran, with Ben Watson coming in as well as Jack Colback.
He’s now stepped down to League Two, but with second-tier football so recent in his career, he could be just the experience County need to press on. Last season they had Jon Stead, Shola Ameobi and Alan Smith, but were any of those ever the sort of player to dictate play from the midfield? Vaughan can do just that and maybe with his presence, a few of those draws in the latter stages of the season could be turned into wins.
Having lost captain Michael O’Connor to Lincoln City, the Magpies needed someone to come in who might inspire the fans, someone not tasked with scoring goals, not even with stopping them, but with controlling play and organising the side when times get tough. Kevin Nolan was excellent at that when he was on the pitch and in Vaughan, he might have got a player in his own image to carry out his orders once the players cross the paint.
Peter Beagrie played in the basement division for Scunthorpe United until he was 40, as effective there as he ever was for Everton or Stoke. There’s no reason David Vaughan cannot do the same at Meadow Lane, as long a she stays injury free.