Cod Almighty | Article
by Baz Rockliff
6 August 2007
When Isaiah Rankin returned to Grimsby last summer it wasn't just me who hailed him as a great signing. A former million-pound player, Rankin had stood out in an appalling Town team in his first spell with the club back in 2004, and it's fair to say we were all looking forward to similar performances from him in a much better line-up. As it was, it didn't happen – for either Isaiah or the team.
It started well though. Isaiah marked his second Town debut, against Boston, by setting up Peter Bore's first goal in professional football and then, five minutes later, spun and levelled as we came from two goals down to win in a very un-Town-like fashion. A month later, at home to champions-to-be Walsall, Rankin was denied a hat-trick only by a combination of Clayton Ince's goalkeeping and erratic finishing. I vaguely remember thinking that a deluge of goals were on their way because everything else seemed to be in place.
I was wrong. Rankin soon picked up an injury and missed eight league games, not returning until Graham Rodger's last game in charge, at home to Franchise FC. It was after this that Alan Buckley returned. Buckley used Rankin sparingly at first, with Martin Paterson enjoying a successful loan spell and partnering Gary Lump up front. Buckley may have also noticed Isaiah, naturally a big lad, seemingly get bigger by the week. He started five games in a row around Christmas and new year, scoring against Torquay, but his effectiveness had dropped considerably.
Rankin made three very late substitute appearances over the course of six weeks, and was then shipped out for a late-season loan spell atMacclesfield, where he made only four appearances, three being from the bench. The summer came and it looked like Isaiah would be on his way out, the only sticking point being the year left on his contract. However, there were no bidders and Rankin returned to the Mariners for pre-season training.
It was last chance saloon for the 29-year-old – and he seems to have realised that. It's a much leaner frontman that has played a regular part in the friendlies to date, and reports suggest that he has impressed, despite not troubling the scorers. No-one doubts Isaiah's ability; hopefully a decent pre-season and a determination to stay fit will see that ability come to the fore, and more importantly, stay there. I get the sense of a new signing about him, and it's one that could go either way. It might not work out, and he'll end up being farmed out to Crawley on loan before disappearing into footballing obscurity, or he'll be ace and come May we'll be saying: "Martin who?"