Saturday, 11 August 2012

Gary Hogan

2009 : Steinkjer (Norway)
2010 : Skeid (Norway)
2010 - 2012 : Steinkjaer (Norway)
2010 : Alta (Norway) loan
2012 - 2013: Ham Kam (Norway)
2013 - present : Tallinna Kalev (Estonia)

Gary Hogan is an Irish goalkeeper who made a name for himself in Norway during a 4 year spell in the Nordic country. Nicknamed Hulk by fans, Hogan has since moved on to Estonia to play for Tallinna Kalev.

Hogan, who was born in 1983, began his football career with the now defunct Dublin City FC in 2011. Over the next four years with the Vikings, he would make 19 appearances in goal. He spent a year with English non-league outfit Sutton in 2006 and 2007. Seeing his career go nowhere in Ireland and Britain, Hogan then decided to take to the sea and find his game elsewhere. 

He landed in Norway, signing with Second Division club Steinkjer. Steinkjer are an old club, having been founded in 1910 and were managed by Irishman Tony Dunne in the 1982-83 season. Since then however, they have fallen through the leagues of Norwegian football, and by the time of Hogan's arrival, they were playing in Norway's second division. He spent much of the past four years between the posts at the Guldbergaunet Stadion, where he was instrumental in helping them avoid relegation until 2011.

He surprised many by turning down offers from Tippeligaen and English league clubs to sign for another second division Norwegian club, Skeid. He spent one season with Skeid, but returned to Steinkjer later after financial issues at Skeid.

In 2010 he returned to Steinkjer, becoming a club favourite. However, in 2011 the club were finally relegated after years of brave battling, and are now playing in Norway's Third Division. Nonetheless, Hogan is regarded as a hero with the club. He is described as a "physically impressive, strong and agile, natural leader who is comfortable with the ball at his feet". That year he was named as Assistant Coach with Steinkjer.

In 2010, he was briefly loaned out to Alta, as the club had a major goalkeeping injury crisis.

In April 2012, he was loaned out again to Ham Kam, after their two first choice keepers Ivar Ronningen and Dyre Eckeberg were both ruled out with long-term injuries. Ham Kam currently play in the Adeccoligaen, Norway's Second Division. Founded in 1918, the club have a long and proud history in the Norwegian game, although trophies have always proved illusive.

Hogan after signing with Ham Kam

As Hogan is considered a safe and experienced choice, Ham Kam manager Vegard Skogheim was lauded for the signing. In May, with Ronningen failing to recover adequately, Hogan signed a full-time deal and transferred to Ham Kam. For one year he helped keep Ham Kam in the Adeccoligaen. Moves to bigger Norwegian clubs however never materialised, and so in 2013 Hogan made a move unfamiliar to Irish football.

Hogan in action for Ham Kam

He signed for Estonian club Tallinna Kalev of the country's top flight Meistriliiga. Kalev were founded in 1911 and play at the 12000 capacity Kalevi Keskstaadion, a Soviet-era concrete block. They club were twice Estonian champions, in 1923 and 1930 after the country broke free from the Russian Empire but before they were occupied by the Soviets.

Hogan's new coach in Tallinn was German tactician Frank Bernhardt. Kalev are by no means big hitters in Estonia, and live in the shadow of bigger names such as Flora and Levadia. As of June 2013, Kalev are battling relegation from the top flight. Hogan wears the no.1 shirt and had been favoured by the management since arriving. 

Hogan demonstrates an adventurous spirit and a globe trekking attitude are in Irish soccer players. He learnt Norwegian and has been able to settle wherver he has gone. Good luck to him in future, wherever he ends up.

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