After starting the 2004-05 season with Kilgallon filling in at left full-back following the departure of Ian Harte during the close season, Kevin Blackwell made Stephen Crainey his first cash signing after signing 10 other players on free transfers.
Crainey joined Leeds on a loan deal on Friday 6th August, before his move from Southampton was made permanent for £200,000 the following Monday!
With Celtic from a youngster, he broke into the first-team in 2001-02 and went on to play 13 times for the Bhoys. But injury limited his chances the following season when the Hoops reached the UEFA Cup final. He was then left in the cold when Celtic manager Martin O'Neill switched to three centre backs while Crainey is an orthodox left back in a back four. So he made an ill-fated move to Southampton in the Xmas 2003 transfer window.
But Crainey saw his chances of holding down a first team place evaporate when the man who bought him, Gordon Strachan promptly decided to quit his post at St Mary's!
Towards the end of 2003-04 season he picked up a groin strain that required surgery at the start of the summer, but that went well and he arrived at Elland Road fully fit.
He made his full Leeds debut in the 0-0 away draw with Wolves on August 14th 2004
Stephen was born in Glasgow on Monday 22nd June 1981, and stands 5ft 9 inches tall.
After just ten games for Leeds Utd Crainey was struck down with Osteitis Pubis a painful overuse condition that affects the pelvis, causing pain during and after exercise, and commonly occurs through kicking activities. After the Cardiff game on 2/10/2004 he hasn't played since as the decision was made to give the problem time to heal itself before sending him in for an operation which would have put an end to his season. In mid-January he started jogging again but is still along way from playing.
Crainey hadn't been at Leeds long enough to catch the eye before his injury but it is interesting to note that after the last game (Cardiff Away 0-0) in which he played, Leeds also kept a clean sheet in the following game against Preston. However, there then followed a string of 19 games without a clean sheet by Leeds. In his ten games for Leeds United at the start of the season we kept six clean sheets. Of course statistics can be misleading and contain spurious correlations but that is a dramatic difference between stats. The return of Crainey (or a similar performance of his temporary replacement, Michael Gray) could be the difference between mid-table or a play-off place.
Updated 3rd Feb 2005