Ripley on his way at last

Last updated : 14 May 2002 By Christian Kelly
In an age where the hacks will never look back and admit they got it wrong and have superhuman abilities in hindsight, I must say that I thought Stuart Ripley would be a very good signing for us. He was excellent at Middlesbrough and while not the most mobile, his partnership with Jason Wilcox on the two flanks was a vital part of Blackburn's championship winning team.

Bought for the 98/99 season, although Saints had been linked strongly with Wilcox, Ripley brought strength and experience to our right flank and had the ability to put in excellent crosses. Ripley would have been "quite happy" to stay at Blackburn and  he had a poor first season for the Saints. Determined to do well, however, Ripley went so far as to apologise to the local press for his form and went on to have a great game against Newcastle at the start of the 99/00 season. However this spell wasn't to last. New manager Glenn Hoddle wasn't a supporter of wingers and this coincided with the first of many injury problems. As a result Ripley was soon being linked with a move and Ripley himself hoped for a club up North.

Injury and loan moves reduced Stuart's appearances to a handful in the last two seasons of his contract and the writing was on the wall that his contract would not be renewed.

Stuart will be looking for a new club as he feels he has another couple of season in him yet. If he can stay fit, there's no reason why he can't do a good job for a First Division side. I wish him well, although I'll probably remember him for his time at Blackburn than his contributions for the Saints.