BROWNE ON THE BALL: Playing the waiting game can work to Jason Stokes’ advantage

Jason Stokes.
Jason Stokes.

There are many different ways a footballer can become a hero to his club’s fans.

The most obvious is loyalty.

Players like Gary Neville, Steven Gerrard and John Terry become icons as one-club men.

Then there’s success.

You may not be the best player the club’s ever had on the books, but if you’re a part of a team which picks up silverware then expect to be worshipped.

Banging in the goals also helps.

But another way into the fans’ hearts is through folklore - doing something so original, so triumphal it will remain in supporters’ minds.

Graeme Souness will forever be a favourite at Turkish club Galatasaray due to the time he planted his club’s giant flag in the centre circle of the turf owned by his side’s ferocious rivals Fenerbace.

But players can also become heroes simply by not playing.

Take for example, Jason Stokes.

It’s no secret that a player’s stock often rises when he’s not playing in a losing side.

After two straight defeats, the fans were restless prior to Tuesday’s defeat over Stalybridge Celtic.

Speaking to many this week, they think Stokes is the answer.

An online Boston United messageboard also has a thread devoted to questioning why he wasn’t in the team.

After those two defeats, Stokes has, to many, become the answer.

A victim. A man unable to prove his worth.

Yes, there’s a definite quality to his game, and the man must be applauded for the way he ditched his comfort zone to try his luck in Belgium with Racing Montegnee.

But there is a reason why he wasn’t playing regularly, why he’s now made six starts and four sub appearances appearances from a possible 15.

Speaking to the player a few weeks ago, he admitted himself that he’s still getting used to the Blue Square Bet North.

He pointed out this is the highest level of the game he’s played at in the country, and it takes some getting used to.

You have to admire his honesty.

But that’s why Jason Lee has used him sparingly.

That’s why he didn’t play a full 90 minutes before Tuesday.

That’s why, at present, he looks better as an impact player than when he starts and tires.

Stokes is also unlucky that he plays in a position where the club has options, where Marc Newsham has flourished and scored regularly and Kallum Smith has five assists to his name.

On Saturday, Spencer Weir-Daley and Ben Fairclough begin three-match bans.

Options are reduced and we will more than likely see the winger given further opportunities to impress.

Then it is up to the player to prove he truly can be a hero on the pitch, as well as on messageboards.

The likes of Neville, Gerrard and Terry all had to wait for their chances... but patience is a virtue.