In 2011, Wrexham took 4 points from Fleetwood Town (nowadays of League 1) – a team which, at that time, consisted of one Jamie Vardy. After a 2-0 victory at the Racecourse, the Dragons played out a 1-1 draw at Highbury Stadium (the Lancashire version) with the then Wrexham manager Andy Morrell reacting with disappointment that the visiting side were not reduced to 10 men:
“There should’ve been a sending off and it was horrendous from [Jamie] Vardy. He left the floor with two feet and Nat [Knight-Percival] could’ve got seriously injured.”
Now 29 years old, Jamie Vardy has led his Leicester side to lifting the Premier League title but should fans of lower league football be inspired or worried?
Players in the nether regions of English football may well look upon Vardy’s rise to stardom and be inspired, but does this now mean that more and more top clubs will be looking lower down the leagues for the next Premier League star? We can’t forget Louis Moult’s rise from Wrexham to Motherwell either where he has become a huge hit in Scottish football – scoring a brace against my (other) footballing beloved, Celtic…. at Celtic Park!
Should the capturing of lower-league talent increase it will probably lead to many promotion-chasing teams’ top players spending a lot of time instead warming bigger teams’ benches – I mean, how likely is it that another Vardy will jump 5 leagues and become the Premier League’s leading consecutive goal scorer? Owing to the modern day dictation of money in football, there’s no chance any team below the Premier League will be able to hold on to their top players. In these leagues it seems nigh on impossible to forge the consistency required to gain promotion.
The only saving grace for teams like Wrexham would be the incoming cash but it’s unlikely that big teams, even with their bulging wallets after TV and advertising deals etc, will risk spending big bucks on landing Conference Premier wonder kids. Vardy himself went for £1m and, however nice that might sound to clubs eying promotion, it’s merely pittance compared to what’s being spent amongst the elite. We can only wait and see whether the Vardy Effect will create headaches for chairmen in lower leagues or whether it will mean the chairmen ensure bigger clubs dig deeper into their pockets when prying talent away.