NONE of the players who left Tranmere during the summer can look back on the first month of the new season with as much satisfaction as Danny Coyne.
The Wales international goalkeeper is not only a big hit with Middlesbrough fans – they’ve even given him his own song. Now the 35-year-old from Prestatyn is Danny Cool!
Coyne was on the verge of taking a pay cut to extend his two-year spell with Tranmere in June when Championship club Boro came in with an offer he could not refuse.
A few weeks down the line, Coyne not only holds the first-team gloves at the Riverside Stadium, but he has matched a club record by keeping four clean sheets at the start of the campaign.
Boro fans are so impressed with Coyne that they serenade him with his own song, a variation on the Boney M hit Daddy Cool.
Coyne said: “It is very funny but very nice to hear that. The fans have been great with me and I’ve built up quite a rapport with them already.”
On the day he signed a two-year deal contract with Middlesbrough, Coyne was anticipating the prospect of starting the season as understudy to Brad Jones. But Jones picked up an injury during pre-season and Coyne quickly made the most of the opportunity to demonstrate why manager Gareth Southgate wanted a keeper of proven quality and experience in the squad.
Coyne, fresh from winning the League One Golden Gloves award for keeping 20 clean sheeets with Tranmere last season, shut out Sheffield United, Swansea City, Scunthorpe and then Doncaster Rovers. He conceded for the first time as Boro went out of the Carling Cup at Nottingham Forest last week and allowed his first Championship goals in a 2-1 defeat at Bristol City.
Jones already knows he has a fight on to reclaim the first team spot he held in Boro’s Premier League side last season.
Coyne said: “I had it in mind that I would be number two keeper and back-up to Brad. I have learned to be patient when I’m not in the side, to look after myself and do the best I can when I get the chance. If you are doing all that the other ‘keeper has to work that much harder to get his place back.
“It was a dream making my debut against Sheffield United, stepping out into a fantastic stadium in front of fantastic fans who want us to get promotion this year.
“This is a Premier League club in the wrong division at the moment. When an opportunity comes along to join a club like this, you grab it with both hands.”
Coyne says he owes a debt to former Tranmere teammate Robbie Stockdale, who recommended him to Middlesbrough goalkeeping coach Stephen Pears.
Coyne has settled quickly, moving into a rented house near Boro’s training ground at Hurworth.
He said: “I know players always say this when they move to a new club, but everyone at Boro has been so helpful and friendly.”
It is no surprise that Coyne feels right at home in the Championship. He spent most of his career playing in football’s second tier during a first spell with Tranmere during the 1990s and then for Grimsby and Burnley. A season in the Premier League with Leicester City yielded just a handful of first team appearances.
The move back to Prenton Park, in the summer of 2007, was a happy one.
However, it finished with the disappointment of a 2-1 defeat at Scunthorpe that edged Tranmere out of a play-off spot. Rovers, under financial pressure to cut costs, could not offer leading players such as Antony Kay, Ben Chorley, Steve Jennings and Coyne the kind of contracts that would keep rival suitors at bay.
Yorkshireman Kay has settled with big-spending Huddersfield, Jennings joined Scottish Premier League club Motherwell and Chorley returned to his southern base by signing for Leyton Orient.