Alan Stubbs was brought in to the club from Everton on a free transfer by Mick McCarthy in 2005. We all pointed towards the invaluable experience he could bring, akin to what Steve Bould had done for us six years previous.
Truth be told, Alan Stubbs turned out to be the character you most certainly wouldn’t want anywhere near your club.
Starting five of the first six games of the campaign, his leadership and valuable experience alongside Gary Breen led us to four defeats and it wasn’t long before the Kirkby-born centre back was injured and subsequently out of the team. During his month out with injury, he was spotted at Goodison Park by Sky Sports News cameras. With his motivation and behaviour already being scrutinised by the fans and local media, Stubbs claimed total innocence, claiming he was only there as his daughter was an Everton fan.
Returning to our side against Portsmouth, we took an important early 1-0 lead, only for Stubbs and Kelvin Davis to define the word calamity, as they were heavily involved in our conceding of four second half goals - Portsmouth’s second coming from a horrible hesitation to clear the ball from the man himself, causing a mix up with Davis. Stubbs continued to hide for the rest of the game, and he later feebly attempted to deflect blame to the fans for their booing of the performance, saying he was “sure that fans will see they were wrong to do that”.
He rarely featured after that. With rumours of a move back to his beloved Everton rife, our season looking doomed by that point anyhow, and I’m not sure too many fans cared if he went either. We can all accept when a move hasn’t really worked out, and most fans would have been content with allowing him to move back to Merseyside despite his questionable behaviour. However, rather disrespectfully he decided he would quite simply stick the knife into our already hurting fan base. In a home game against Everton on New Year’s Eve, McCarthy’s side had battled well, before succumbing to 93rd minute sucker punch, with Tim Cahill hitting a stoppage time winner.
As Cahill ran to celebrate by punching the corner flag directly opposite the South West Corner, Stubbs could be seen celebrating by punching the air by fans near the dugout. He rejoined the Toffees twenty days later. Taking into account all of the disrespect we have been shown in the past - and let’s be honest there’s been more than I’m comfortable with - this was quite literally the worst I’ve ever known. Celebrating another team’s goal against us? You literally couldn’t make it up. It still makes my blood boil to this day.
The worst part was his excusing of himself years later.
Interviewed by Richard Keys on talkSPORT in 2012, he was asked about his infamous celebration. He denied it of course, saying that he wasn’t in the team and some boxes were free so he invited some Everton supporting friends for the game, one of whom celebrated and the press thought it was him. For those of you who didn’t know, he was on the bench that day. Quite how he made it to the box by injury time is anyone’s guess. Or maybe he’s lying.
Keys followed on, "You were feeling it internally though?" "Yeah" said Stubbs. "It was split loyalties that day but I'm not going to lie I was happy”. Astonishing that even in these modern days of money-laden, spoilt child-like footballers, I’ve yet to experience a level of disrespect quite like it in all of my days supporting the Lads.
So forgive me, Mr Stubbs, for having a wry smile each time your career hits a speed bump. Woe betide if you ever come back to the Stadium of Light as a Manager too - just ask Darren Bent, Jimmy Hill and Steven Taylor. We’re an unforgiving bunch.