WhatsApp panics & days out at Dobbies - the transfer window for a part-time footballer

Danny Denholm

Danny Denholm plays for Arbroath, who are currently romping clear in Scotland's League One. The 28-year-old winger combines playing part-time with his job as a PE teacher in Dunfermline, but was previously a full-time footballer with Livingston. He has since dropped down the divisions with Forfar Athletic and now Arbroath, both under the management of the inimitable Dick Campbell. Here, he tells us what life is like for a part-time player during the transfer window.

On transfer deadline day, there will be no helicopter coming to pick me up, no 11th-hour faxes arriving at Gayfield and certainly no media hanging around.

Some of my family, friends and work colleagues genuinely think all that happens to me and my team-mates during the window, but I don't have the nerve to do things at the last minute. If I'm five minutes late for a hairdresser appointment, I get anxious so there's no way I'm waiting until the end of the window to sign a contract anywhere.

Instead, like most of my Arbroath team-mates, I'll be refreshing Twitter, gawping at BBC Sport's live page and getting involved in the messages flying back and forth in our players' WhatsApp group.

You'd think we'd have some kind of insider knowledge, but we're clueless and just as intrigued as the fans as to who may be coming or going. Rumours get sent around and picked apart...

"We are signing him for £20,000."

No we aren't.

"He's getting a clause put in his contract, £100 a goal!"

No, he's certainly not.

"We are signing a player who played in the Champions League and played in a European final."

Actually, that one turned out to be true in the form of Rab Douglas.

Usually it's nonsense. Nevertheless, the good, the bad and the potential impact that whatever touted player might have on the team are dissected amid the inevitable paranoia of 'oh no, he's taking my place'.

But the question we're all most concerned with is 'what is he like as a guy?' and 'will he be good for the dressing room?' because keeping a positive and harmonious atmosphere is particularly vital at our level.

Dick Campbell
Will Arbroath manager Dick Campbell be doing any late business?

'Billy Big Times are a real risk'

We'll all likely have a keen eye on what the clubs around us do, too. Frankly, there is not much between most of us in terms of ability, so you both worry and wonder about the impact a new signing might have on your rivals.

The psychological impact of a big-name signing - in lower league terms, at least - should not be underestimated because it can create that little bit of doubt, can give your rivals' fans a boost, and can help create momentum.

The money involved might not be anything staggering, but a positive move can be the difference between promotion and mid-table obscurity, or between mid-table obscurity and relegation.

I used to be pretty sceptical about players arriving in January. Are they good enough? Will they upset the dressing room? Will they take my place? The answer to that is usually yes...

There have been occasions where a young loan player has signed with a clause that they must start a percentage of our games. That's risky at our level, because I've seen some young boys come in who are either not ready for senior football or have a 'Billy Big Time' attitude, which can have an adverse reaction.

But I've relaxed about the January window over time and accepted that it is just part of lower-league football.

That's been helped by the fact two of our most vital players in this season's title challenge - Ryan Wallace and Michael McKenna - were signed last January. They helped us push for the play-offs last season, but the real benefit was that they were fully integrated and settled by the time pre-season came this term.

'Do you want to be at Dobbies?'

From a personal point of view, when the window closes it's usually accompanied by a wee dose of relief that there haven't been too many boys brought in to play my position.

To borrow a line from my gaffer: "Saturday is fitba day. What you gonna do instead? Do you want to be on that pitch or do you want to be at Dobbies?"

The garden centre cafes can wait for a few more transfer windows yet.

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