Monday, 20 May 2013

Ashley Grimes

1989 - 91 : Osasuna (Spain)

Born in Dublin in 1957, Augustine Ashley Grimes was a left-winger and full back who earned 18 caps for his country in over 10 years. During that time he lined out for Manchester United, Coventry and Luton Town in England and had an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Charity Shield to his name. He had also won trophies in Ireland with Bohemians early in his career. 

With the Republic he made his debut in a home friendly against Turkey in 1978. To Ireland fans he is best remembered for his stunning strike against Spain in 1982, during the qualifiers for Euro '84. His last game came against Romania in 1988.

In 1989 after over 100 appearances for Luton Town, the 32 year old Dubliner moved to Spain and the El Sadar stadium to play for Club Atlético Osasuna.

Since its inception in 1920 Osasuna, also known as Los Rojillos, have never won a single major honour. Until the 1980s they played a majority of their time in the Second Division, before promotion in 1980 would spell the best period for the club. 

The previous year, Osasuna had finished in 10th place. Grimes was signing for Osasuna when another Irishman, Michael Robinson, had just retired after 2 years with Los Rojillos. The manager that signed Grimes was former Barcelona midfielder Pedro Zabalza, while the Irishman was one of only two foreigners alongside Polish striker Jan Urban

He made his debut on October 8th, coming on as a substitute against Celta Vigo in a 1-1 away draw. He went on to make another 14 appearances for the team, including ties against Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla.  But before long a bad knee injury affected his game time and would ultimately cut short his time in Iberia.

He made 15 appearances for the club that season, mainly as a substitute. For his troubles he had also received one yellow against Valladolid in December. Osasuna finished in 8th place, a very decent finish. 

Grimes' trading card at Osasuna

(That season Irishman John Aldridge was one of La Liga's top scorers with 16 goals for Sociedad).

Grimes' time in Spain had been ultimately poor, and he scuttled off to sign for Stoke City in England halfway through the 19991 season without playing a game that year. Maybe if he'd moved to La Liga at a younger age, he could have achieved more. He isn't exactly remembered well at the club, where one local journalist recently decried, "Where did they find that Grimes? In an orphanage?"

He later coached at Stoke, Celtic and Huddersfield Town, before settling in the English city of Bolton. Today he is a coach with Welsh side Colwyn Bay F.C and a corporate organiser for Man United.

A great player in England and in a green shirt but another unsuccessful Wild Goose.

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