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This way out

As if I was going to use “Please release me” as the title…

So, it’s that time of year again, and one more anticipated than most years – the released list is upon us.

The club in its wooly ethical state describes it as the “Retained” list, as though they think we’ll be glad to see the players returning.

But we all know we mostly care about who won’t soil the shirt in 22/23.

Before 2021/22 finally goes to its deserved final resting place, somebody elsewhere memorably described this list as the highlight of the season.

It may be considered a tad cruel on those gone, but quite simply – I can’t disagree less with that sentiment.

There’s a fair few remaining with us, at least for now, but we’ll go through the ones who can put AFCW’s relegation last season** on their CV.

** – and yes, it is now definitely “last season”. You can stop hiding behind the sofa.

Before I begin – as regular readers know, I work most Saturdays so don’t have the good fortune (?) to see these players week in, week out.

While we’ve kept a lot, we’ve still parted company with fifteen players, most of whom were first teamers.

And I doubt this will be it. There will be a couple more going from the current retained list, so JJ might need to get his contacts book out already.

Anyway, here we go. In some resemblance of order…

Cheye Alexander

Judging by the all-round reaction, somebody whose name is no surprise whatsoever.

He’s 27 years old, and unlike others we wouldn’t get compensation for him. That’s probably why Osew and NGW are being offered new deals and he isn’t.

He never seemed quite good enough for L1, although one wonders what he could do in L2. No doubt he’ll sign for Stevenage and play a blinder against us.

I will write loads about other players, but am struggling to write much about him. Perhaps that’s telling…

Corie Andrews

Spent his time on-loan at Aldershot, then Colchester, where he saw more of the bench than the ball.

Made zero appearances for us as well. Which is understandable as a 19 year old, but not a 24 year old like he was.

So he was older than you think. I’m sure he’ll already be heading back to Hampshire, unless Dorking Wanderers splash some more cash…

Darius Charles

The second worst signing of the season – and another example of why SW19 hates it when players return for a second spell.

Was he a 10-game-a-season grizzled veteran who could come in at short notice and do a job?

Was he making his first steps on the coaching ladder? Was he really the link between players and coaching staff?

If none of those, then you have to seriously question why we signed him to begin with. Although him being a mate of MR probably contributed.

His retirement was a bit anti-climatic, and in truth you thought he’d already hung up his boots.

Even his caretaker manager position lasted a maxium of 48 hours, when Mark Bowen took charge.

I suppose the writing on his particular wall came when he was nowhere to be seen in the final games of the campaign.

Darius is a smart fella, and I don’t doubt he’ll pop up elsewhere PDQ. But one is left feeling that his wage could have been much better spent elsewhere.

Ben Heneghan

The biggest name on the released list thus far, though was out of contract and will no doubt be playing for Accrington next season.

One of the better players of a bad bunch, yet still doesn’t make you think we’ve dipped out by letting him go.

I haven’t bothered checking his background, but he seems the sort of player who moves on a fair bit.

I’m sure those who went to more games than me will point out some goal-line clearances he did.

Though it’s worth remembering that he was definitely part of a side that got relegated…

Egli Kaja

One of the stranger signings of last season, and alongside Darius is somebody you thought had already gone.

Re-signed in November to great fanfare, played about six times before getting injured (I think), and then made his comeback at the Crewe Good Friday disaster.

We never saw him again.

Seemed to be another one who was here because Mark Robinson knew him, whether we actually needed him or not.

Not exactly a youngster at 24, and somebody else who you think JJ could replace without too much sweat.

Derick Osei Yaw

Felt a bit sorry for him, as he was the final, panic-striken throw of the dice under the sinking MR regime.

Managed to make no difference whatsoever to our forward line, and more proof why strikers aren’t signed on free agency.

Tried hard, and apparently was the only one at Gresty Road to acknowledge the supporters from less than five miles away.

Was set to play in Norway before we snapped him up, and he probably wished he gone there instead.

Jack Madelin / Isaac Olaniyan / Zaki Oualah

I’ll be honest here – I couldn’t identify any of them even if they were standing right in front of me at the Phoenix.

Of course, that’s the ones who were “our” players. We had a number of loanees too, who are all heading back to their parent clubs.

Let’s see how they did as well…

Terry Ablade

Striker from Fulham, Finnish, and that’s really all I remember of him.

Signed at the beginning of January, and featured until April after Lincoln where we never heard from him again.

The Michael Folivi of our times, although he did manage to pick up a yellow card on his debut.

Sam Cosgrove

If one individual summed up the wretchedness of the Mark Robinson era transfers, it would be him.

The replacement for Ollie Palmer, it was dismissed as sour grapes by us when Shrewsbury fans were pleased we got him.

Then we realised why.

It didn’t get much better when your editor covered Charlton v Shrews towards the end of the last campaign, and the official club snapper was glad we took Cosgrove on.

He (Cosgrove, not the photographer) was slow, blowing out of his arse, and managed to overshadow his one goal of the season by giving Crewe their equaliser in the same game.

That he was considered the top choice by our now ex-Head Coach wasn’t a good advert for his judgement.

My one memory sticking out was the abuse he was getting from those stood near me at Cheltenham.

I shudder to think what Birmingham were thinking when they signed him. Either that, or he/his agent has some very incriminating photos…

Henry Lawrence

Started well, got injured, then disappeared into the same big blob that everyone else did.

Did he really have a Billy Big Bollocks attitude from the start? Would explain a lot if so.

Dapo Mebude

Will always be remembered for raising the Plough Lane roof when he equalised at Bolton. Which more or less became his highlight for us.

Like Lawrence, he clearly has a bit of talent, but various factors seem to suggest he won’t make it.

Aaron Pressley

Ollie Palmer’s understudy, and proved how awful our strikeforce was from January onwards when he got injured – but still managed to be the best striker at the club.

Scored a penalty or two though, which is more than Piggy could manage towards the end of his time here.

Probably too much expectation was put upon him from the start, with us thinking he was going to be the new Marcus Forss.

Unfortunately, he was nearer being the new Mick Belfield…

Tomas Kalinauskas

Yes, he has a surname. Yes, he came from Barnsley on loan.

And yes, he did play a grand total of two games before disappearing.

If you’ve got this far – congratulations. That’s a lot we’ve got shot of, and who I hope JJ is already looking to replace.

I’m not in the least bit upset that any of them have gone, especially the loanees. And even on the retained list, there are a few that I won’t cry over if Barnet want new players.

Rumours will abound from now on, and only this morning Assal is linked with Brentford and Fulham.

I’ll believe that when I see it, and if I’m being honest – I think it’s more likely he’ll end up at a lower Championship or L1 side at best.

I note we’ve offered contracts to Hartigan, NGW, Osew and Zach, amongst others. I can only guess it’s so we don’t lose them for nowt.

As said earlier, one suspects this won’t be the final list of departing players, and I won’t miss anyone who leaves SW17.

We now can look forward to who is coming in, and experience is a must. JJ certainly acknowledges that.

That said, I wonder if he might also be tempted to raid the Charlton Academy for a couple of players?

He clearly still keeps tabs on them. When he was in negotiations with us, his Twitter account congratulated CAFC’s u18s for a semi-final win.

Whatever happens, it does feel like the chapter has finally been closed on 2021/22.

Releasing players is part of the job, and it’s especially brutal in the lower leagues out of necessity.

In the past, many have bemoaned that we make wholesale changes every close-season, and we don’t seem to build a squad.

This time around though, nobody seems to be complaining…

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