Often Partisan

The Return of Mitch Hancox?

Mitch Hancox scored the first professional goal of his career at the weekend, striking a sweet volley to help Crawley Town to a 3-2 win over Leyton Orient. It was the 21-year-old left-back’s third appearance for the Red Devils in his emergency loan period.

While I’m really happy for Mitch that he is getting game time and rebuilding his confidence I am somewhat surprised by the reaction on social media and forums to him scoring. I make no bones about the fact that I have always rated Mitch’s attitude since the season he was top scorer in the reserves from left-back but I think some people get over-excited by the fact he’s a Brummie-born Blues fan and let emotion cloud their reason.

Since Gary Rowett took over at Blues Hancox has played twice – in the FA Cup against Blyth Spartans last season and in the Capital One Cup against Gillingham this season. As much as people are blinded by the passion Mitch shows I think there is a logical reason for that – the reason being that Jonathan Grounds is a better player; a steady full-back who rarely (touch wood) gets injured and offers a consistent level of performance.

Towards the end of last season I saw Mitch play in a few games for the reserves and it was like he had regressed; there wasn’t the same tigerish play I’d come to expect from the Solihull-born full-back and I think the lack of first team action had really got to him. I’m actually hopeful that a run of games for someone like Crawley can reignite his confidence and get him pushing harder to dislodge Jonathan Grounds in the first team.

One of the hardest things for young players to do is to push on when they reach the first team; I think there is this belief from some fans that once a young player makes the first team group they’ve done it but the truth is that is where it gets harder – because not only do they have to consistently perform to the levels which got them into the first team group, they then have to improve on that.

Dimmy Gray is the best example I’ve seen of a player who has kicked on; I don’t think he had quite the natural talent of Nathan Redmond when he was a 16-17 year old in the reserves but after making the first team he has improved steadily, working hard on his game to become the highly-prized asset he is now. I think other young players should look not only to what Dimmy has achieved – but how he is achieved it as the ideal of how a young player should break into the team.

Although Hancox is 21 time is not up for him; a good spell on loan at Crawley Town could well be the making of him. I really hope it is – not just for Mitch, who as I said before has shown great attitude while being at Blues – but for the club too – it’s always nice when another homegrown hero makes it.

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16 Responses to “The Return of Mitch Hancox?”

  • The Wildey Show says:

    Totally agree. Blues fans wouldn’t mention Hancox if he wasn’t a Brummie. He is decent as a back up player and that is as far as it goes unfortunately.

    He will make a great league 1 or 2 full back

  • Dave says:

    I always feel Mitch is better as an overlapping fullback in a back 5, or as a wide midfield player where he can help out in attack and defence. He’s a decent back up fullback, but gets caught out of position too much and needs to eradicate that if he is to progress further.

    This loan move could be just what he needs to get him playing regular, competitive football and to boost his confidence. I hope it works out for him.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Best crosser of a ball at the club. Sadly, that’s never really been utilsed. I’m not really surprised he’s gone backwards tbh. When you can’t see a way back into the first team, it must be disheartening. He was decent when he first came into the first team, a little bit naive in his positioning, but that could and should have been worked on. Who knows how he would have progressed if he’d had a good run in the team, as Grounds has.

    Still, even though he’s a Brummie through-and-through, I’d rather see him get regular football somewhere else, than rot in the stiffs. Good luck to the lad.

  • Big Al says:

    Mitch isn’t good enough. We need to move on now from the days of Clark where players who were out of their depth were thrown into the fray. He’ll make a living out of football but it will be in League One or Two.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Personally, I think Hancox would make a good wing back in a 3-5-2.

  • Alan Watton says:

    I think that mitch has a great chance to get into the Blues team this season. Grounds continually gets caught day dreaming on the far post as opposition forwards get in front of or behind him . Sadly Mitch has been languishing in the twilight zone of ‘development’ football which is neither reserve or youth football. This loan period will move his development forward a pace and make him a genuine alternative to Grounds . That in turn will hopefully push Grounds to iron out the wrinkles that Grounds has. Win win for both players hopefully.

  • snoop says:

    I think it is a double edged sword, some fans are as ready to write off a 20 year old for not being a ready made first team player as others are to over hype them for being local lads.
    I think Mitch is some where in between but he badly needs first team football to improve – a 6 month loan in League One would guve him the chance to get the experience he needs to step up.
    Most of our squad is made up of players deemed not Championship standard once, including Grounds… Something to think about when people are writing off a 21 year old’s potential.

    • Matt says:

      Yes, totally agree with what has been said here. He has some qualities that make a great footballer, and is a very hard worker. The lad deserves a chance on loan to prove himself. I also feel some fans think these players should be first team ready because Clark threw them in, I mean he was even going to start a 15y/o centre half!

  • Istanblue says:

    I can only echo what has been said above – a decent attacking wing back type, but gets caught out defensively at Championship level. I like the lad; I was just leaving the same school as he was starting there and he played at the same Sunday team as my brother – I genuinely hope he does make it. But I don’t think he’ll ever be much more than a squad man at our level, reminiscent of Mat Sadler or Marcos Painter, who had their strengths and talents, and have forged good careers but peaked as Championship back-ups.

  • Agent McLeish says:

    Good balanced blog by a thinking fan.

  • Shirley Blue says:

    I think he would be a decent left sided midfielder in a 4-4-2 but as we haven’t played that way for a long time he never got the opportunity. Grounds has limitations especially going forward but his ability in the air has been essential especially at set pieces with the left sided centre backs we have had been a bit vertically challenged ie Robbo and Spector. Hopefully some first team football for Hancox will put some fire in his belly and reignite his career. As GR looks to strengthen the team bit by bit then left back is one area he will need to look at soon though I don’t think Hancox or Grounds will be the long term answer.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    I guess we cut Hancox more slack because it’s as if he’s representing ‘us’ but he looked the best attacking left back I’d seen in a while so I really hope he recaptures the promise we saw.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    ‘We (I) are (am) not alone’ Dan. Some more critics of Grounds have seen the light. :-)

    • BhamCityJulian says:

      The problem for Hancox that Crawley can’t fix is his lack of height. However would his attacking flair make more space for Gray? Perhaps it would.

  • Jazzzy786 says:

    Grounds is a consistent LB but not as good going forward or at crossing as Mitch. Is Mitch caught out more times than Grounds? I doubt it. Grounds gets caught out quite a lot. Where Mitch struggles is from lack of height and physical strength. This shouldn’t really be a problem with our covering midfielders getting back to help. Where Mitch excels is with his excellent crossing as his goals assists testifies. Could he play left wing? I’d really love to see him as a regular but sadly I think he’ll be released when his contract winds down. Goalscoring full backs are rare and it will be some other teams gain.


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