Most professional contracts were completed yesterday, though it hasn’t stopped other clubs signing players, that’s probably why there’s been a flurry of activity at The Kassam this week. Just as news of Billy Turley filters through, Chris Tardif is about to follows suit. Presumably he had a couple of offers from League clubs on the table, but decided there was unfinished business at the club.

The fact we have two very good ‘keepers on the books is inexplicable, though not unwelcome, for three reasons. Firstly, there’s a wage cap in the Conference, and you would normally expect to see a mix of experience and cheap youth occupying the goalie positions. Secondly, why was Jim Smith so quick to bring in Andrea Guatelli when he arrived in March, and finally, why is Tardif so happy to kick his heals as a reserve conference goalkeeper he seems to good for that.

And then, uh oh, following the great tradition of Yemi Odubade, Tim Sills, Neville Roach and, um, Ben Abbey comes news that a couple of non-league hotshots are gunning for a professional contract with the U’s. Robbie Dale from Blyth Spartans and Robert Duffy formerly of Kettering and Rushden are in town.

The Spartans’ website says this about Dale:

“Signed from Ryton last season and scored a hat trick on his debut and thus, puts himself up there with the likes of Wayne Rooney! Was described as “The Giant” Robbie Dale by the press after scoring at Seaham Red Star pre-season. A very good target man with “instant” ball control.”

Sounds like he’s a big lump of concrete, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing especially if paired with the craft of Basham. News on Duffy is less easy to find; there’s no reference to him on the Kettering site; who appear to have a squad of ten players. He apparently signed for Stevenage after the transfer deadline last season but again, there’s no reference to him. The Rushden news archive reveals this missive:

“Duffy fractured his kneecap in a freak training-ground accident during the summer when he ran into iron fencing around one of the practice pitches at Nene Park.”

Freak, meaning that everyone laughed until they realised how serious it was, of course. If we’ve unearthed a new Freddie Eastwood, I’ll be happy. Duffy and Dale, the Two Robbie’s, it’s got a nice ring about it.

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