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Sky Bet Transfer Fund: 10 January transfers that made an impact in The Football League

4 December 2014

There are just days left for fans to sign up for the Sky Bet Transfer Fund and the chance to win £250,000 for their club to spend during the upcoming transfer window. In anticipation of potential season-changing deals being done in the new year, RYAN PERCIVAL looks back on 10 January signings that made a splash:

Roberto Martinez - Walsall to Swansea City (2003)

It is hard to imagine now but on the final day of the 2002/03 season, Swansea City were one bad result away from dropping out of The Football League. They were at home to Hull City, who are now alongside the Swans in the Premier League, and had to match or better the result of Exeter City to stay up at the Grecians' expense.

In the Swans' starting XI that day was a 29-year-old Roberto Martinez, who was making his 19th appearance for the Welsh club after joining them from Walsall in January of that year. The Spaniard helped Swansea do the business, by beating Hull 4-2 at Vetch Field, and he went on to make 124 appearances for the club before his departure in the summer of 2006.

After a spell at Chester City, Martinez was back at Swansea in February 2007, but this time as manager. In his first full season in charge, he led the Swans to promotion as League 1 champions, amassing 92 points, and they've not looked back since.

Colin Murdock - Hibernian to Crewe Alexandra (2005)

Colin Murdock may have only played 16 times for Crewe Alexandra but he was inspirational in helping to keep Dario Gradi's side in the Championship in 2004/05.

He had made a good career for himself as a solid defender with Preston North End and Scottish side Hibernian before joining the Railwaymen.

Gradi handed him the captain's armband and was rewarded as the Northern Ireland international led the team to safety by the narrowest of margins - a solitary goal better off than Gillingham, who went down instead, after Crewe climbed out of the drop zone with a victory on the final day.

Find out more about the Sky Bet Transfer Fund and how to win £250,000 for your club

Steve Fletcher - Crawley Town to AFC Bournemouth (2009)

Steve Fletcher's place in Bournemouth's history was already secured after his 15-year spell with the club came to an end in the summer of 2007 but, following a year with Chesterfield and a few months in the Conference with then non-league Crawley Town, the Cherries were in big trouble and went back in for their legend in January 2009.

A 17-point deduction for going into administration for the second time in a couple of years had left them in serious danger of dropping out of The Football League and they needed a hero.

Fletcher's return, coupled with the management of the much-liked Eddie Howe, saw Bournemouth slowly but surely drag themselves out of trouble and they eventually secured their survival with a game to go - Fletcher netting the winning goal.

The burly striker's outstanding League career was recognised at The Football League Awards in 2014, when he became the first ever recipient of the Sir Tom Finney Award.

Jimmy Bullard - Peterborough United to Wigan Athletic (2003)

Spending just over a quarter of a million pounds on Jimmy Bullard in 2003 proved a bargain for Wigan Athletic.

The Latics, in their 25th season as a Football League club, were looking set for promotion to the second tier for the first time and added Bullard in the January transfer window. He helped them win the Division Two title with a club record 100 points and, by the time he departed to Fulham in 2006, the charismatic midfielder had become one of the most recognisable figures in the English game.

Richie Barker - Mansfield Town to Hartlepool United (2007)

Six English clubs had enjoyed Richie Barker's goalscoring talents prior to his move to Hartlepool United in January 2007.

Having previously netted 12 League 2 goals for Mansfield that season, the big front man joined Pools' ranks with the club looking for promotion to League 1 - and he delivered the goods. Barker scored nine more times before the end of the campaign to finish as League 2's joint-top scorer alongside Izale McLeod, and his team went up as runners-up to Walsall.

Dean Windass - Bradford City to Hull City (2007)

Dean Windass was a big hit at Hull's Boothferry Park in the early 1990s when he started his professional career there, so his return to the club in 2007 from Bradford City was welcomed.

By the time he had re-joined his hometown team, the KC Stadium was the Tigers' home and his eight goals in 18 games during an initial loan spell helped consolidate Hull in the Championship in 2006/07.

He penned a permanent transfer from the Bantams that summer and, just a year later, the fairytale was complete as he scored a stunning goal in the Championship Play-Off Final, which took Hull into the Premier League for the first time ever.

Adebayo Akinfenwa – Millwall to Northampton Town (2008)

Akinfenwa has become a recognisable figure in football, for obvious reasons, and the majority of his goals in The Football League have been scored in a Northampton shirt, after he joined them for the first time in January 2008.

The Cobblers were in League 1 and doing well, while Bayo was in the same division, with Millwall, but had failed to hit the net in nine appearances. He was handed a deal at Sixfields until the end of that season and made an immediate impact, scoring four goals in his opening three games.

A further four strikes prior to the end of the term saw him earn an extended contract and, although Northampton suffered relegation the following campaign, the big man still managed to hit 15 goals, before a further 17 in 2009/10 as Town finished 11th in League 2.

After a year at Gillingham he returned to Sixfields to notch 18 times in 2011/12 – his highest ever tally - in a season when Northampton struggled at the bottom of The Football League. He also scored 17 goals the following campaign as the Cobblers reached the Play-Off Final, before departing the club for pastures new.

In all, Akinfenwa bagged 74 goals in 188 appearances for Northampton, and was the consistent shining light for the club over the course of some topsy-turvy seasons.

Billy Sharp - Doncaster Rovers to Southampton (2012)

There were plenty of suitors for Billy Sharp after his prolific spell at Doncaster Rovers and it was Southampton who won the battle to sign him in the January transfer window of 2012.

The Saints were in their first season back in the Championship after League 1 promotion but were eyeing a return to the Premier League, so signed Sharp to provide extra attacking edge.

They were repaid with nine goals before the campaign was out as Sharp carried on wearing his shooting boots and Southampton met their top-flight target.

Find out more about the Sky Bet Transfer Fund and how to win £250,000 for your club

Kevin Phillips - Blackpool to Crystal Palace (2013) – Crystal Palace to Leicester City (2014)

Kevin Phillips is a goalscoring legend; it's that simple.

He had found the net for many years prior to his January 2013 move to Crystal Palace and was viewed as a vital piece of the jigsaw at Selhurst Park when the Eagles were gunning for promotion to the Premier League – and so it proved.

The now 41-year-old scored seven goals for Palace but his most vital act came in the last game of the season, in the Championship Play-Off Final against Watford. With the score at 0-0 and the clock approaching half-time in extra-time at Wembley, Wilfried Zaha was brought down in the box by the Hornets' Marco Cassetti and a penalty was awarded.

Phillips stepped up and readied himself to take what could turn out to be the most valuable kick in world football. That didn't faze the striker and he did what he had been doing for years, hitting the net to complete Palace's return to the Premier League.

After the conclusion of that campaign, Phillips signed a one-year deal with the top-flight Eagles, but dropped down to the Championship in January 2014 to join promotion-chasing Leicester.

Although he didn't make such a telling contribution as he did at Palace, Phillips still picked up another Championship promotion medal after bagging two goals in 12 appearances for the Foxes, to complete his 20-year career.

Jason Roberts - West Bromwich Albion to Wigan Athletic (2004)

Striker Roberts swapped West Brom for Wigan in January 2004, when the Latics were making their way up The Football League under chairman Dave Whelan, and scored within 35 seconds of his debut against Preston North End, which was a sign of things to come.

He rounded off the 2003/04 campaign with another seven goals before finding the net 21 times the following season – the second-highest in the Championship, behind strike partner Nathan Ellington – to fire Wigan to their third promotion in nine years and into the Premier League for the first time.

The Latics were able to establish themselves in the top flight and Roberts was key to that, scoring their first Premier League goal, against Sunderland, which led to their first three points in the Premier League.

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