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    Graeme Holmes 200th Appearance 

    Sunday, September 11, 2016 5:34:07 PM

    Graeme Holmes yesterday made his 200th first team appearance for "The Wasps" a fantastic achievement from a wonderful loyal servant to the club.

    Jonathan Markwell lead the tributes in his article in "The Wasp" match programme on Saturday against Livingston.

    "Alloa captain Graeme Holmes is on the verge of making his landmark 200th appearance for the club. His starting role last weekend versus East Fife was number 199, which means today may mark his double century in Alloa colours, if selected. Given this milestone, it is only fitting for me to look back at Graeme's five years service to the Wasps.

    Holmes was one of Paul Hartley's inaugural signings during the Summer of 2011, with the ex-Morton man dropping down the divisions to follow in the footsteps of his father Jimmy in playing for the Wasps. The newly formed Alloa side stormed to the Third Division title, with Holmes a vital, if unheralded (in comparison with some of his team-mates), cog in the Alloa midfield. 'Homer' started all but three of the league games, contributing three goals along the way (the most vital of which was the early winner during a midweek November win at Clyde).

    It wasn't until the 2012-3 season when Holmes really came to the fore in a Wasps shirt, mainly thanks to an eight goal haul during another promotion winning season. During the second half of the campaign Holmes was part of the much heralded midfield four (also including Stephen Simmons, Ryan McCord and Kevin Moon) which was so fluid in helping Alloa to success. Coincidentally, five of Holmes's goals came against Stranraer, with the first being a Xavi-esque dribble and cool finish beyond the keeper. Holmes also played a starring role in the end of season play-off triumph versus Dunfermline, with his crossfield pass providing the assist for Jonathan Tiffoney's opener in the first leg.

    During the three Championship seasons, Holmes continued to be a mainstay of the Wasps midfield. In-fact, as the table on this page shows, 'Homer' has only missed a handful of games throughout his Alloa career. That is a great achievement in itself, but especially so given his struggles with hamstring injuries and a back operation limiting his game time at Dunfermline and Morton prior to joining the Wasps. However, Holmes has credited (in the Alloa Advertiser) the physiotherapists at the club as being magicians. In addition, given that the 32-year-old is now playing under his fourth permanent manager with the Wasps and continues to be an integral part of the team, this is testament to the high esteem managers hold him in. During those Championship years, Holmes was there at every step: the last day drama at Falkirk in 2014; the Petrofac Cup Final and the epic play-off win over Forfar to avoid relegation (although Graeme was on the sidelines having been sent-off, but let's not dwell on that one!) in 2015; the ups (his joyous celebration after scoring at Dumbarton was one of the photographs of the season for me) and downs (which he was candid about on a couple of occasions in the Alloa Advertiser) of relegation last season. On a personal note Holmes also picked up the goal of the season award last year, with his sweetly struck half-volley from 20 yards v QoS being a worthy winner of the award.

    In those last two seasons Holmes had often been deployed in a deeper midfield role, which Stephen Simmons had made his own while at the club. Although Holmes himself would be the first to admit that he doesn't possess the destructive qualities of Simmy, it was a role he played with his own skill and class to minimise the threat of his opponents. For example, late last season my fellow 'The Wasp' contributor Brian Roach sang the praises of Holmes in his midfield duels with John McGinn and Andy Halliday, which helped Alloa to hugely impressive results versus Hibernian (1-0 win) and Rangers (1-1 draw at Ibrox).

    Speaking to the Alloa Advertiser at that time, Holmes made it clear that, despite the disappointment of relegation, he was still highly motivated to stay at the club, telling Graeme Lafferty “There is plenty of life left in me yet and I have loved every minute of my time at Alloa. I would love to stay and it would be great to get to 200 appearances for the club with me being so close.” After signing his richly deserved sixth contract with the Wasps for this season, Holmes further endeared himself to the Wasps supporters by informing the Alloa Advertiser “It has been an honour to play for the club this long and the fans had a big part in making my decision to stay much easier. I would love to see out my career here at Alloa if that is possible and really leave a lasting legacy at the club because they have been a big part of my life for a long time now.” I think Jack Ross must have read those passionate comments, as weeks later Holmes was handed the club captaincy. Graeme described it as both unexpected and one of the biggest honours of his playing career. This season so far Holmes has a job on his hands to secure a starting berth in the Wasps team, but that's the same challenge he faced a year ago and passed with flying colours. Moreover, since being made captain Alloa have won a club record breaking ten successive games, with Holmes's captaincy surely being one of the magic ingredients of success!

    In overall terms Homer is a classy midfielder who has been a mainstay of the Wasps successes in recent years. I'd also be inclined to say that Holmes is a real players'-player. By that I mean that sometimes supporters don't fully appreciate his value in the team, but his team-mates certainly do. For some supporters Graeme's best work goes unnoticed, be it beginning moves from deep, keeping the ball in pressurised situations, or cleverly creating space for his team-mates to exploit. Holmes also gets through a ton of work, more often than not gets his head up in a midfield scrap to see a positive forward pass and rarely hides or chooses the easy option during games. It is that sort of bravery on the ball, together with a composure and regular drop of a shoulder and turn to beat his man that make Holmes a joy to watch. Also, as seen on this page, the Wasps have a formidable record when the former Dundee United trainee scores!

    As a signal of Holmes' longevity, I have been writing articles for 'The Wasp' for 13 years and this is only the third time I have written an article about a player making 200 appearances for the club. The other occasions were for Ross Hamilton and, most recently in 2010, Chris Townsley. Furthermore, Holmes is set to become only the 24th Wasp to have made 200 or more appearances for the club in the post-war era. As such Holmes has joined some elite company, but in my mind he fully deserves his place and fits in nicely within that select clan. He still has a long way to go to eclipse Bobby Gray's club record of 359 appearances in the black and gold, but anything is possible for the Xavi of Alloa!"

    Graeme receives award from Alloa Athletic Directors
    Also award from Alloa 1878 Supporters Club
     

     

     



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