Blackpool striker Ben Burgess has been outlined as the One To Watch ahead of this weekend`s clash at Loftus Road.
The Buxton born striker started life at Blackburn Rovers in 1998 and made his debut in April 2000 against Portsmouth in Division One before being replaced shortly before the hour mark by Norwegian forward Egil Ostenstad.
There was a role reversal in the subsequent draw against Charlton Athletic with Burgess replacing Ostendstad with 15 minutes remaining. The result, scorer and method was the same – Lee Carsley from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw.
Burgess received one further appearance for Rovers the following season in the League Cup, when they comfortably beat Portsmouth over two legs in the Second Round.
He realised quickly that he wouldn`t be an established part of the first team set-up and was loaned out to Australian side Northern Spirit – a club now defunct as of 2004. He notched 16 goals in 27 games to add to a growing reputation in the game.
His next move was on home soil as Division Two hopefuls Brentford, under the guidance of Steve Coppell, pushed for promotion. Burgess scored 17 goals including braces against Oldham Athletic and the eventually promoted Brighton & Hove Albion.
13 games without a goal at the back-end of the campaign didn`t help the Bees cause, who were beaten in the Playoff Final by Stoke City.
In that summer he moved away from Blackburn Rovers when it became apparent he wasn`t going to break into the Premier League set-up. He signed for Stockport County in a club record £450,000 move – but after only six goals boss Carlton Palmer lambasted him in the media stating:
‘Ben is a talented footballer, but we have a lot of work to do with him,
‘Anybody who wants to be part of this football club has to do that hard work.
‘He knows where he stands with me. Nobody is bigger than this football club, and that includes me.’
His last game for County was the 1-0 defeat to QPR at Loftus Road, where boss Carlton Palmer gave away a sloppy penalty in the final minute to hand Rangers a priceless victory in their chase for the playoffs.
He moved on loan to Oldham Athletic but failed to hit the target in six games for the Latics, before ambitious Division Three outfit Hull City paid £100,000 for his services, with Stockport making a significant loss on the deal.
He became an instant hit with Tigers` fans becoming the first player to hit a hatrick at the newly crowned KC Stadium. He finished the season with four goals in seven games, promising much for the following season.
Burgess found his goalscoring groove against at the KC with his 18 goals a prime reason why the Tigers achieved promotion to Division Two. Braces against Kidderminster Harriers, Scunthorpe United and Swansea City helped Hull to the runners up spot.
Elation was tempered as at the back end of the season Burgess suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury that kept him out of much of the subsequent campaign. Hull made it two promotions in two under Peter Taylor with Burgess mustering two appearances – in a sporting gesture, he refused a promotion medal.
He scored two further goals against Brighton and Millwall before Christmas, but injuries brought a premature end to the season, and despite starting Hull`s second season in the Championship and scoring against Tranmere in the League Cup, the Tigers allowed him to sign for League One Blackpool.
The deadline-day fee eventually worth £100,000 looked a tad over-inflated as Burgess only managed a couple of league goals as the voices of discontent at Bloomfield Road began to grow with regards to his capture.
Nevertheless his goals came at the right time to help secure a playoff place for the Tangerines, as they went on to gain promotion by beating his former club Oldham in the semi-finals, before a final victory over Yeovil, 2-0, to secure their Championship status.
His first season back in the Championship was significantly better, as he bagged ten goals, nine coming in the league and two against Queens Park Rangers. On December 1 he settled the clash at Bloomfield Road in the final minute, before bagging a consolation in a 3-2 defeat at Loftus Road.
A respectable season earned him a one-year extension to his contract at Blackpool and last season he netted another six times for the Tangerines in what was a season of upheaval at Bloomfield Road, losing boss Simon Grayson to Leeds United.
Burgess penned another contract with the Seasiders to extend his stay for another year, with an option for a further year – it remains to be seen how boss Ian Holloway will utilise his skills as Blackpool kick off what should be an exciting campaign.
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