Wigan Athletic have announced the signing of 24 year old central striker Will Grigg from Brentford.
The 5 ft 11 in tall Grigg was born in Solihull and progressed through the Birmingham City youth system. At the age of 17 he joined Walsall where he was to spend five seasons. scoring 27 goals in 99 appearances. In July 2013 he signed for Brentford for a fee that was to rise to £405,000. However, Grigg did not have the successful time he would have hoped for at Griffin Park, often being played out of position by Uwe Rosler. Last season he went on a season long loan to MK Dons where he made a major contribution to a promotion winning team, scoring 22 goals in 50 appearances.
In order to learn more about Grigg’s time at MK Dons we reached out to Harry Wright of the Cowshed Chronicles BlogSpot. Harry has since posted this article on his own site.
Here’s over to Harry:
When Will Grigg arrived in Milton Keynes on a season-long loan from newly promoted Brentford, the midlands-born striker was the second of three young, hungry strikers Karl Robinson was to employ for the 2014/15 season after Tom Hitchcock was acquired on a free transfer from QPR. A week later Benik Afobe joined from Premier League Arsenal and the Dons front line, that was to score 101 league goals, was complete.
The Northern Ireland international was to make an instant impact at Stadium:MK, netting an equaliser in the Dons season opener as we came from 2-0 down to triumph 4-2, however it didn’t take long for Grigg to truly endear himself to the Dons faithful as the frontman scored the first two goals in our unforgettable 4-0 annihilation of Manchester United in the Capital One Cup, famously using his chest to caress the ball past a helpless David De Gea.
Playing second fiddle to the prolific Afobe for the first half of the season, Grigg had to accept he was not going to be given a constant run of starts due to Karl Robinson’s rotation policy as Afobe grabbed himself 19 goals until Wolves decided to pay big money to lure the England u21 international to Molyneux in mid January. The departure of Afobe was followed up by Tom Hitchcock’s loan move to fellow League One club Fleetwood Town and left the former Walsall forward as the lone striker at Stadium:MK and oh how he delivered.
A blistering second half of the season containing a crucial brace away at Swindon left Grigg with 20 league goals from 43 games taking his total tally for the season to 22, only the second ever player to reach the milestone of 20 league goals in a Dons jersey, finished off with a header against Yeovil in a 5-1 demolition resulting in the Dons automatic promotion to the Championship for the first time.
ut it’s not just the goals Grigg gets that made him a fans favourite in Milton Keynes, despite not even being our player, it’s the manner in which he plays and the qualities he brings to the squad as a whole. Without having much strength due to being just 5’11 Grigg is a very clever player, his movement and trickery to evade defenders often means he finds himself in acres of space. A classy, natural goal scorer, Grigg is a poacher, frequently in the right place at the right time to finish off the hard work done by those supporting him. Effective yet unspectacular the forward will get goals wherever he plays for sure.
Grigg’s work rate his also very good, never giving up on chasing a lost cause, combining an element of comedy in his celebrations with a dance branded ‘the Griggle’ by Dons fans, the striker’s personality rubs off on the fans and team mates alike and will not only add quality to the squad but also lighten up the dressing room at the DW stadium. Grigg is undoubtedly a brilliant signing at League One level with proven experience and quality. The only question will be, can Wigan get enough support up to him to the poacher to get the goals to fire Wigan back to the second tier?
In addition to the MK Don fan’s view on Grigg, we also reached out to a Brentford fan to give us an insight on the player’s time there.
Here’s over to Billy:
Grigg came in with high expectations. He had scored 20 goals in the previous season for Walsall – all from open play and was scouted because, statistically, he fitted a profile. A striker who found himself himself in goalscoring positions and made chances.
His transfer was protracted and bad-blooded (quite similar in ways to the Wigan-Forshaw scenario) except unlike Forshaw, Grigg was out of contract.
Walsall manager Dean Smith didn’t want him to leave and had offered him a new deal. And even said something to the words when he left … “If he were leaving to go to a better side I would have thought he would have done better than Brentford”. He toned down his comments later to say what he meant was he thought Grigg’s agent could have done better and got him a championship move.
In the end, as the sides couldn’t agree a fee, it went to tribunal with Brentford having to pay Walsall compensation. A figure of £325k with add-ons was finally decided upon. Smith was still angry as he valued Grigg at closer to £1m even back then.
He had a good start to the season. Scored a brace on his home debut vs Sheffield Utd – missing a penalty for his hat trick. Brentford fans thought our time had come. Beating Sheffield Utd – the team who last season came so close to promotion to the Championship– was a real barometer of how we had stepped up. Or so we thought. Our next two months were fairly average to say the least .. whilst Sheffield United went from bad to worse.
As for Grigg, after that run he got immediately called into the Northern Ireland squad to start against Russia. And his bedding into the Brentford team was continually disrupted over the next few months by being taken off by he Northern Ireland national side to effectively sit on the bench.
He was missing out on game time. And training with his team mates.
He also was unlucky with niggling injuries during that period which never saw him fully fit and he was often subbed off during matches.
All in all, this led to a massive dip in confidence for the lad who was starting to feel the pressure in a side gunning for promotion.
Eventually over the course of the season Marcello Trotta became the forward of choice with Brentford deciding to send Will off to Franchise FC aka MK Dons the following season to get ‘game time’ after scoring 4 goals in his 39 appearances for The Bees.
His time at MK Dons is unprecedented – scoring 22 goals in 50 games including a brace against Man United. Not many players can boast to their grandkids that they scored against Man United.
Apparently he was great for MK Dons. Worked hard. Made chances. And took over the mantle of top goalscorer after Afobe left for Wolves.
Brentford fans would often say ‘he couldn’t do that for the Bees though. He couldn’t play up front on his own’ .. but apparently, he played the lone striker role magnificently up in Milton Keynes.
Bees fans wee bracing themselves for giving Grigg a second chance. The thoughts – having a 20 goal striker as you 2nd or 3rd choice is never a bad thing. But for Will .. and for Brentford .. with 1 year left on his contract .. the opportunity to cash in (even make a profit) … and for Will to lead the line for a team intent in reclaiming they place back in the Championship proved too much of a pull.
The Griggster (as we call him) … lovely bloke. Really down to earth. I even managed to nab the first interview with him when he joined Brentford a couple of seasons ago.
And I – and I’m sure all Bees fans – wish The Griggster the best of luck at Wigan … even easier to do so now that we are a division apart. And that wasn’t meant to be a dig by the way … just I don’t have to worry about him coming back to Griffin Park and scoring a hat trick … not for a season anyway.
Thanks to JJ of http://threeamigoswigan.com/ for this post.