As a top flight goalkeeper it’s been a case of always the bridesmaid, never the bride for John Filan. Not that the Aussie stopper has the frame for flouncy blancmange dresses in the first place. It’s probably the case that, on his day, he’s good enough to be most team’s first choice between the sticks but whether through form or just having a younger or better keeper in front of him, he’s never really had the chance to prove the point.
After a couple of false dawns (or in this case sunsets) it seems that Filan will finally say G’day to English football come May and take semi-retirement in the land of barbies, neighbours, uber-camp children’s television and international sports teams that actually win things.
Filan joined Latics at an important time for the club, Roy Carroll’s departure had, to put it politely, left Latics light in the nets. With the team struggling and Jewell desperate to put a team together that he could call his own, the £00k he spent on the Blackburn man is, in hindsight, one of the most important buys of the manager’s time with the club.
After taking Latics to the Second Division title and promotion to the Premier League, Filan must have been relishing another tilt at top flight football. Mike Pollitt had other ideas and the form of the ex-Rotherham man saw John’s chances limited last season. Kirkland’s signing in the summer left Jewell with three good keepers, but an obvious first choice. Good news for the club, but less so for a player approaching the end of his career.
After meandering through a couple of loan deals, Filan would have been excused for thinking his time at Latics was about to peter out, but then came Kirkland’s finger injury. Even then Jewell looked to bring Mike Pollitt back into the fold, but he returned from the hills with a muscle strain throwing Filan back into the frame for the Watford game.
His performances have been mixed since coming back, his shot stopping is clearly as good as it’s ever been but to say he’s looked dodgy dealing with crosses is an understatement. His failings haven’t cost us as yet, but they don’t necessarily fill you full of confidence. Nevertheless the Aussie has been guardian as Latics turned the corner towards safety and he’s played more than a small part in that.
There are a few weeks to go before Kirkland returns and, whilst in normal circumstances he’d see an automatic return to the team, a few more points on the board between now and then may see Jewell show a romantic streak and let the big man go out at the top. It would only be right; his escapades since joining the club deserve more than to see him sneak away like a swagman in the night.
Shane Warne, Dame Edna Everage, Harry Kewell, Harold Bishop, Ned Kelly, Jason and Kylie, Bea Smith your boy didn’t take one hell of a beating, he done good. May his shirts be loud, his stubbies cold and his barbie be full of shrimp.
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