Dunfermline completed what could be the club's most important and significant signing of the summer today when midfielder Tom Beadling agreed to a 2 year contract. A big success after moving on loan from Sunderland to the Pars in February, his contract with his parent club ends in June and it was felt that whatever his next destination was - staying at Sunderland, or moving to another club - it would not be in the black and white of Dunfermline. Beadling, 22, was Sunderland Under 23 team's captain and many of their fans have commented online (Roker Report site and other forums) that they would have liked to see the player given a first team chance. His performances for Dunfermline throughout the spring must also have alerted other clubs.
Although he had played in central defence for much of his time in the Sunderland colts team, it was midfield that Beadling stated a preference for, and where he played all his games for Dunfermline during the loan period. A tall and mobile player, he was exactly what the team needed in that area of the pitch, and alongside other new midfielders James Craigen and James Vincent, was instrumental in the team's improved form and results in the final quarter. Central midfield had been a problem during the dire run of results in the autumn and early winter, with lack of pace being exposed by quicker and more agile opponents. This all changed with the arrival of the 3 new players, with Beadling the standout for many, a composed presence for someone with no first team experience prior to the move.
A sign of any player's importance to a team is not only the contribution they make when playing, but also how much they are missed when not on the pitch. An injury sustained late in the win at Falkirk in April sidelined Beadling for the remainder of the League campaign and - more importantly - in the playoffs. Although Vincent and Craigen did well without their team mate, the trio worked better with him alongside them as Beadling was the more likely of the 3 to tackle and break up play, alongside his ability to get forward and support the attack. With his defensive capabilities, he might have been seen as a defensive midfielder, a role he can easily fill, but he is even more effective as a box to box midfielder, making full use of his energy, strength and athleticism.
Beadling's qualities are hard to find (and afford) at Championship level and so the news that he has agreed to a contract - officially starting in 1 July - is a huge boost to the club and may well encourage other players who were considering other options to stay at East End Park. As important as last week's deals for Lee Robinson, Lee Ashcroft and James Craigen were, I feel the signing of Beadling may prove to be the best not only so far, but of the whole summer. This is a player to build a team around. Well done to all concerned on convincing the player to commit his future to Dunfermline and welcome back to Beadling himself - he will be a very important player for us and will hopefully prove to be instrumental in our climb back to the top tier.