This transfer window saw Ricky Holmes secure his dream move to the Championship with Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee. From a young player at college heading towards a different profession altogether this looked a million miles away. But through sheer hard work and an ever improving ability he has risen from non league into a team who could well be in the Premier League next season.
On January 1st 2015 I was part of a Northampton Town team heading towards the relegation zone after 12 losses in 15 games. Chris Wilder who had joined from Oxford United the previous season and miraculously saved the club from relegation had one last chance to try and save his job. As soon as the transfer window opened he added three new names with one of those being Holmes from Portsmouth.
After spells with Chelmsford City is the Isthmian League, Barnet and Portsmouth he made his moved to Sixfields where he spent 18 months of his career playing undoubtedly his best football.
From the moment I met Holmes I knew there was something special about him. There is an arrogance about him and a belief he will succeed wherever he is. Normally this sort of person isn’t my cup of tea but straight away I realised there was more to him and we hit it off straight away. During the rest of that season there was a massive improvement from the team which saw us just miss out on a play off spot.
It wasn’t until the season after that we saw the best of Holmes. After picking up an injury early in the season he didn’t return until early in January against Barnet. He scored on his return and played a huge role in the Cobblers running away with the title that season. In fact his return coincided with Northampton going unbeaten until the end of the season.
During these five months it was like watching a child being back at school in the playground knowing he is better than all the other kids. He looked head and shoulders above everyone at this level, scoring some fantastic goals and it was only a matter of time before he stepped up to the next level.
After a move to Charlton in the league above and another good season it was his old manager Wilder who came knocking on the door to take him to the next step on the ladder at Sheffield United. Currently sat in the play off positions with just over ten games to go, Holmes could have gone from Isthmian league to Premier League step by step only missing out the National Conference in the meantime.