Stephen Dobbie's first competitive appearance for the club came in Tuesday night's League Cup tie against Burton Albion so here is a lowdown on the Scot.
Dobbie has been something of a journey man in his career turning out for an impressive 12 clubs in a total of 17 different spells.
His career began in his native Scotland at that now non-existent club Rangers (no I do not count the new club as being the same and think it would be funny if someone made them stop displaying the ‘old Rangers' achievements as their own). While at Rangers he was reportedly prolific for the reserve team but made no first team appearances. He did play three games at local club Northern Sprint in the Australian National Soccer League on loan though.
After Rangers Dobbie moved onto Hibernian. Dobbie was unable to tie down a regular first team place and was loaned out to St Johnstone which later became a permanent move. He again struggled to hold down a first team place at St Johnstone and was loaned out to the lofty heights of the Scottish Third Division side Dumbarton.
Dobbie's form at Dumbarton attracted Queen of the South's attention and they signed him from St Johnstone. This was the point where Dobbie's career really got going and he went on to score 54 times in 98 appearances for the club.
His prolific form caught the eye of Swansea City who brought him into the English leagues for the first time. During his time there he initially lost his place due to injury and made his first loan move to Blackpool forming part of the squad that gained promotion to the Premier League. Dobbie then returned to Swansea but was often constricted to the bench. But he did start the playoff final that year, his second in successive seasons and was again on the winning side.
Dobbie made a handful of appearances for Swansea in the Premier League but was eventually loaned out to Blackpool; again the poor thing you would have thought once would be enough for any man! He went on to appear in a third successive playoff final, but of course this time was not on the winning side.
Dobbie was then transferred to Brighton and Hove Albion but failed to settle so was first loaned out to Crystal Palace before sealing a permanent move. His time at Palace also amounted to very little, although he was again part of a Championship playoff winning squad. During this time he was again signed on loan by Blackpool, must have been quite traumatic for him having to go back again...
Dobbie then of course spent the back end of last season on loan at the mighty Fleetwood Town while his Palace contract ran down, I guess it could have been worse he could have ended up back at Blackpool and this time it defiantly would have been a nightmare given their impressively atrocious form last season... When his Palace contract expired he of course joined his 12th and without a shadow of a doubt best club Bolton Wanderers. Signing a player from Crystal Palace does seem like something of a Dougie Freedman thing to do, but as long as that is all that Lennon does to emanate our once great leader then I am content.
A lesson in the history of Stephen Dobbie teaches us a few things.
First he does have a goal or two in him. Although his time at Queen of the South was by far his most prolific Dobbie has scored 112 goals in 334 appearances throughout his career. By the standard of Bolton strikers those are not bad stats, and if pre-season is anything to go by he may well add to that by the end of the season.
Dobbie's past also shows versatility with Brendon Rodgers at Swansea City being the man to drop Dobbie into an attacking midfield role when he had only been deployed as a striker before. In previous pieces have a spoken of my love for versatile players, so Dobbie's ability to play two positions even though they are fairly similar in nature is well received.
Dobbie's career to date though does show a general inability in the most part to nail down a first team place. From looking through his career it appears that it is only at Queen of the South where Dobbie has been able to hold down a permanent starting birth, and even there he was left out of important matches despite his goal scoring record. Although on face value this is a worry it does appear that he has been brought to the club mainly as a backup player and not as someone who is expected to start week in week out. As such this should be of no concern.
Another useful feature of his past is those four playoff finals being on the winning side in three. Now given the game against Burton Albion I do not envisage us being in a position to contest a playoff final this season, but if we do somehow pull that off then we have a player in Dobbie who is used to such matches. Considering that many of our key players this season are relatively young his experience of big games such as that would likely be invaluable should we find ourselves in that position.
I mean maybe Dobbie is a lucky omen and simply having him in our squad means we are guaranteed a playoff final this season? It doesn't hurt to dream right?