Crewe Alexandra Football Club released four players this summer and we wish them all the very best in their future careers. Here we look back at their careers with the Railwaymen.
It is a fond farewell to Chris Dagnall, Zoumana Bakayogo, Dan Udoh and Ross Woodcock.
‘Daggers’ joined Crewe Alexandra from Hibernian in the summer of 2016 and he quickly established himself as a firm favourite with the Alex fans. His tireless work-rate, leadership and goals made him one of the first names’ on then manager’s Steve Davis’ team-sheet. He partnered his close pal Ryan Lowe for the first half of his first season with the club.
The Liverpool-born forward made his debut in the 2-1 win at Stevenage and scored his first goal in a thrilling 3-3 home draw with Hartlepool in his fourth game for his new club. He quickly followed that up with a stunning brace against Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup, but Crewe couldn’t quite win the tie in extra-time and exited by a 4-3 scoreline.
As Crewe struggled to make the sort of impact we would have wanted on our return to League Two, Dagnall hit only a further two goals before Davis was replaced by David Artell in January.
The on-loan Jordan Bowery was bought in to replace the Bury-bound Lowe and his partnership with Dagnall rescued our season. They struck up a fantastic double-act and Daggers went on to score a prolific 12 goals in 14 games to help Crewe move away from the relegation drop zone.
Not even a red card for 'throttling' the Stevenage goalkeeper Jamie Jones in February could hamper his overwhelming selection as the club’s player-of-the-season! He ended the campaign with a hat-trick against Barnet on the final day of the campaign before also collecting the fans award.
Dagnall may not have been as prolific in front of goal during the last season but he still chipped in with 7 goals from his 37 appearances. You also have to remember that he was also used as a central midfielder in the middle part of the season, as Crewe struggled for numbers.
His leadership skills saw him captain the team until George Ray returned from injury and although he struggled with his own injury towards the end of the season, he was still desperate to play and help the club avoid being dragged into a relegation fight.
He was always an unselfish, team player, who always gave 100% for the cause. Dagnall’s record of 24 goals from 71 appearances was a handsome return from the experienced poacher.
The former Paris St. Germain full-back showed unbelievable tenacity and resilience to come back from two serious knee injuries and win a contract at Crewe Alexandra. It was his never-die-attitude, professionalism and infectious personality that saw Steve Davis give him every chance to prove his fitness after he took him on trial during the pre-season of 2015.
His knee would often swell up after those pre-season games but to his enormous credit, Zooms worked on his fitness and Davis kept faith with him to get back.
When the likeable left-back replaced David Fox for the final few minutes away at Swindon in January 2016, it was an emotional moment. He had missed almost two years of football at that point!
The former Tranmere and Leicester City man grew in stature and when his match fitness returned, you could see why Davis was keen to give him ample opportunities. He ended the season playing in 22 games, scoring his only goal in a 3-1 defeat at Chesterfield.
Sadly, he couldn’t help us escape relegation but he continued to be our first choice left-back, featuring in 46 games the next season under Davis and then his successor Artell.
As a popular member of the squad, Zooms was never one to moan and groan and although he faced stiff competition from the emerging Harry Pickering in his final season, he still featured in 36 games. The Frenchman always gave 100% and always did it with a broad smile on his face.
One of Neil Baker’s final finds from the non-league scene, Udoh was one we gave a chance to to see if he could bridge the massive step from Ilkeston to League One football. The bubbly forward gave it his best shot and after a week after signing in March 2016, he made his debut as a late sub against Bradford City.
The powerful youngster made his full debut at Vale Park when he was the surprise inclusion on the day Crewe Alexandra were relegated to League Two. He ended the season with six first team appearances under his belt.
Udoh netted his first and only goal for the club in a 3-0 win at Accrington Stanley in the Football League Trophy. The momentous moment came on his 20th birthday.
Steve Davis continued to give him chances, mainly as an impact substitute but after he departed the club in January 2017, his chances became more limited under the new gaffer.
After replacing Dagnall late on against Cheltenham at the end of January, he was soon loaned out to Solihull Moors in the National League. He would return to Crewe just before the end of the season to play the final few minutes against Leyton Orient as the club secured their Football League status with a 3-0 win at Gresty Road.
It was clear that he wouldn’t be granted too many chances under Artell, especially with the club signing Bowery on a permanent deal and then adding the vastly experienced Chris Porter last summer. Udoh continued to train with the club, but certainly made a positive impact out on loan with Chester and Leamington last season.
The versatile defender who operated at both right and left back during his Academy years was deeply unlucky in his one-year as a professional footballer.
Woodcock suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in the summer that would wipe out his entire season. To his great credit, the youngster kept himself together and continued to work extremely hard to get back from such a serious injury. His professionalism and dedication in the gym has to be admired and will put him in good stead if he can get fixed up at another club.
It is one of the saddest things in football when an untimely injury prevents you from grasping all the opportunities that may come your way. We wish Ross and all the other lads all the very best.