Yeovil Town 2 Bury 1 – Saturday 17th April 2004
Not many players make the kind of instant impact that striker Dani Rodrigues did when he arrived at Yeovil in April 2004, and his first game was one that all who were there will probably always remember.
Although the Glovers found themselves able to adjust well on the whole to League Two, finding themselves 3rd at Christmas, they experienced a difficult run of form after the FA Cup match against Liverpool, winning only four of the next 16 games which saw them slide down to 9th and out of the play-off picture. With Jackson and Gall both unable to find the net after Christmas, Edwards injured and Stansfield out of favour, goals were getting harder to come by. Gary Johnson brought in loan strikers Lee Matthews from Bristol City and Andy Bishop from Walsall with mixed results, but he was not happy with them and neither stayed long. With fives games to go and hopes of reaching the play-offs fading away, he signed out of contract Portuguese striker Dani Rodrigues (no relation to Hugo), who was a free agent at the time.
Dani had started his career in the Portuguese second tier at Feirense, before coming to the UK for a brief loan at Bournemouth in 1998. However, during this loan Southampton had spotted his talent and poached him from their south coast neighbours, signing him on a permanent contract at the age of 19. In his first full season he was top scorer for the reserves and after a couple of appearances for the Saints’ first team, was sent out on loan to Bristol City but broke his ankle, and after breaking the same ankle again before reaching full fitness was released by Southampton in 2002. Signing for Walsall, he stayed for a year making only one substitute appearance. He spent a season in Greece at top flight club Ionikos, which is where he joined us on a short term contract at the end of March 2004.
His debut came as a substitute in the home match against Bury on 17th April 2004. The mid-table Shakers had nothing to play for, but took a surprise lead just before half time through Dave Nugent. Early in the second half Gary Johnson shook things up, bringing on Rodrigues for his debut in place of Adam Stansfield on 49 minutes.
Rodrigues made one of the most spectacular debuts it is possible to make, scoring with an incredible overhead kick just five minutes after coming on, which will stand for many as one of the best goals ever scored at Huish Park. He topped that off by scoring a much less spectacular deflected second goal to put Yeovil ahead just four minutes later. The Glovers held on, as the arrival of the Portuguese striker propelled them into the final strait of the campaign. They won their next two games away at York and again at Southend, as two more goals from Rodrigues in a 2-0 win at Roots Hall pushed the Glovers into the play-off places with two games to go.
Yeovil just fell at the final hurdle, as defeat at home to promoted Hull despite Dani’s namesake Hugo scoring his only goal for the club, was followed by a late win at Lincoln on the last day, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Dani missed the last game through a minor injury, so it was down to substitutes Stansfield and Edwards to get the goals along with Gavin Williams. While many Glovers fans were keen to retain Dani’s services going into the 2004/05 season, there were some doubts about his extensive historical injury problems, as well as our ability to offer the kind of money he would be looking for. In the end, he signed for Bournemouth, who were in League One at the time and were able to offer the money and contract that we could not. He spent two years at Dean Court, where he scored 7 goals from 60 appearances. Yeovil instead signed Phil Jevons, who all things considered worked out fairly well as he was top scorer for the next two seasons.
After that Dani became slightly nomadic again, playing for the New Zealand Knights in Auckland before returning to the south coast again for Eastleigh and Dorchester, and then moving to Cyprus and playing for a number of clubs there. He was never really prolific at any of the clubs he played for, moving fairly frequently, so unfortunately was not able to fulfil the promise he had shown early in his career. Even though his appearance stats for Yeovil may read Played: 4; Goals 4, he will always be remembered for that one spectacular goal in April 2004.
Team that day: Steve Collis, Adam Lockwood, Colin Miles, Terry Skiverton, Hugo Rodrigues (sub. Andy Lindegaard, 52), Paul Terry, Lee Johnson, Nick Crittenden, Kevin Gall (sub. Nathan Talbott, 90), Jake Edwards, Adam Stansfield (sub. Dani Rodrigues, 49). Subs not used: Ryan Northmore, Kirk Jackson
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