HE likes to think of himself as a box-to-box midfielder, he’s 6ft 4in, Simon Bassey wants him to spread his legs and on his Twitter account he’s known as Pell’e (if only). Harry Pell has become the club’s third signing in the January transfer window but he comes with caveats.
Just 21, our ‘Harry is no midfield hard nut Dons fans have been baying for and he certainly is no Edison Arantes do Nascimento lookalike. But he comes from hardly bullish Hereford United in the national Conference with the plan to add more pace and aggression (and not so little height) to the Wimbledon midfield, already bolstered by the window acquisition of Peter Sweeney.
You get the sense that Neal Ardley has targeted the midfield minefield as a problem that needs fixing.
The tom tom drums (well, the Bulls Banter forum) were pounding for days that Pell was heading to the Dons. Although officially it has been an undisclosed fee, Hereford insiders say the Dons paid £25,000 for the Raging Bull and Assistant Manager Neil Cox says the club beat off four or five clubs for Pell’s signature. Two of them are believed to be promotion-chasing Port Vale and Cheltenham Town.
Pell said the lure of playing again in the Football League and his keenness to return to London with his mother diagnosed with multiple sclerosis were contributing factors to joining Wimbledon.
Hereford were also willing to sell, with club Chairman David Keyte saying the Bulls turned down a number of offers from several clubs, but they were happy “that we’ve done a good bit of business, and that it’s a deal that will suit all parties.”
Apparently Hereford, not travelling all that well financially, were also helped that Pell’s departure means that they have removed one of the larger Football League wages off their payroll that would have continued through to June/July. So if it works out, Pell’s acquisition could turn out to be good business for the Dons.
So what have the Dons gained with the signing of Pell? Let’s hear from the man himself.
“I would like to think that I am a box-to-box midfielder and that people know what they are getting from me as I give 100 per cent. I am really looking forward to Saturday (Burton Albion) if I am involved. I have the rest of the week to prepare for it and get to know the lads in training,” Pell told the club web-site.
“I was at Charlton from the age of just seven and I left there when I was 18 to sign for Bristol Rovers. I moved to Hereford after doing well there on loan and it is great to now end up here.” Pell made 52 league appearances for Hereford scoring four goals.
League Two Wimbledon have beaten the likes of high-flying Port Vale to the signing of highly rated midfielder Harry Pell.
— Soccer Daily (@Soccer_Daily) January 28, 2013
“Hopefully, he will add a bit more pace and aggression to the midfield and give us a different option. We are trying to bring a couple more in before the window transfer deadline finishes. With the new players that we now have in the squad, places are up for grabs and it is good for competition,” Cox said.
First team coach Simon Bassey appears to be the one who has the knowledge on Pell, having first spotted him while he was playing for Hastings United back in 2010.
“He’s a very talented midfielder, who will bring a lot of youthful enthusiasm to the middle of the park,” Bassey said. “I’ve known about him for some time and we’ve been monitoring his situation. He maybe young, but he already has a lot of experience.”
“He may be more than six-foot tall, but most of that is legs, so we’re hoping he’ll spread them and bring a lot of energy to the team. Of course, his height is a big advantage too, but we’re hoping he will develop into a fine player while he is with us.”
Pell, mainly because of his height, has been (fairly or unfairly) compared with former AFC Wimbledon midfielder Ricky Wellard (also 6ft 4in), who was released by Terry Brown at the end of last season and joined Cambridge United in the Conference. He is currently on loan at Salisbury City.
Eighteen-year Hereford fan Dave Tingle says this about our latest addition … “Harry Pell is a player that fans will immediately warm to. His marauding runs from midfield became his trademark, and to a certain extent are what ‘got him noticed’. However at the moment he has a limited end product, if he could add that clinical ball and a few goals to his game he would be a top player, as it is he is one with lots of potential.
“Don’t expect a ‘presence’ with Harry, he may be 6ft 4in but this is all in his stride (if that makes sense), but this does help him get around the middle of the park. One of the issues at Hereford is that we didn’t know where to play him. He’s not really a defensive shield, holding player, or attacking midfielder – we’ve really struggled in the middle to retain the ball and have paired Harry with numerous players, and even played with five in midfield to accommodate him but we still leaked goals. This is why I’m not too unduly concerned about him going, especially as the fee and his wages will save us £45k. If you could give him a clear defined role this would help him in my opinion.
“Off the field he is a good kid, always took time to visit the supporters club, got involved with the club. I hope he doesn’t have another relegation at the end of the season.”
@RobboGTFC Missing the part where we sold Harry Pell for 25k today to Wimbledon. Described as being on FL wages.
— Tom Milward (@Milward1989) January 28, 2013
Thirty-year Bulls fan Alvin Snape make these observations: “From what I’ve seen he is a kid with huge potential. His main asset is his surging runs out of midfield which will turn defence into attack at a rapid pace. He’s a decent passer, good footballing brain but sometimes his defensive side of the game lets him down. His gangling presence often makes it look like he has committed fouls when he’s got a perfectly good tackle in and his ‘all action’ style means he quite frequently gets booked for mis-timed tackles. He also is a bit slow getting back into shape when an attack breaks down. He’s still young, he’s still learning the game but when he learns to make the right choices when going forward and shows a little bit more defensive discipline you have certainly got one for the future.”
Richard Bridges, who has been following Hereford for 30 years, adds: “Harry Pell is a player with potential but a bit frustrating at times. He tries to do too much occasionally and can get caught in possession. Having said that he’s tall, gets about the pitch well and shows the potential to be a class act. He’s still young, still learning but a player that always catches the eye when he runs with the ball at his feet. I found him to be a bit disappointing in the air for one so tall. Overall he is a decent signing though I’d say, most Bulls fans are sorry to see him go.”
Dons fan Moth Poet Hotel has been keeping an eye on Pell in recent seasons. “I’ve watch Hereford a fair few times over the past 2-3 years – including twice in the week before we played them at home last season. I highlighted Pell as one to watch. He makes himself available, gets stuck in (sometimes overly-much) and likes the Beckham-esqe type long sweeping pass. Unlikely to score from closer than 6 ft though. All-in-all this could be a very good signing.” Adding:” For those of a certain age, think Stewart Evans, but without the goals.”