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Wetherby Athletic: A New Dawn

Started on 16 October 2019 by Jack
Latest Reply on 31 March 2020 by Justice
Loving the detail in this already, quality graphics provided as well make it easier to follow through the story. Good luck on your journey
A good pre-season considering the quality of the opponents and I am sure the early games bought in a good amount of money to the club. Looking forward to the competitive games getting underway!

By Graham Smyth for Yorkshire Evening Post
Friday, 1st November 2019, 6:00 am



Doctors told semi-professional footballer Jamie Underdown, from Morley, that it was unlikely he would ever play on the pitch again and he faced the prospect of at least the next year in a wheelchair.

The 22-year-old ex-Bradford City academy star damaged three of the four ligaments in his knee - and dislocated his kneecap - following the tackle while playing for Thackley AFC in a match against Hemsworth Miners Welfare on November 11 2017.

The incident became a regional headline news story across Yorkshire when it first occurred due to the severity of Underdown’s injuries and it highlighted the potential risks of playing football at any level.

However, almost two years on from the horror tackle, Northern Counties East League Premier Division side Wetherby Athletic - who sit 2nd out of their 20-team division - have signed Underdown for the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign.

The central midfielder found it hard to find the words to say when we asked Mr Underdown how it felt to be back on the pitch. Underdown told the YEP: “It has been very overwhelming and emotional because obviously I had been told that it was a total write-off and I would never be able to play again.

“Now I have been given the opportunity, thanks to Mr Milne and Wetherby Athletic, to get back on the field and do what I most enjoy in life - playing football.

“My life has been completely turned upside down - with positivity and happiness. They told me that I might not even be able to walk again after what happened against Hemsworth.

“The injury killed me. I shut myself away. It was the worst I have ever felt in my life.”

Wetherby Athletic manager Mark Milne told the YEP: “I obviously heard about Jamie’s injury in the newspapers at the time. There were a couple of lads who knew Jamie from playing football with or against him in the past and it was undoubtedly shocking news.

“I, myself had to leave the playing field for good due to an ankle injury on doctor’s orders so I can absolutely sympathise with Jamie’s problems these past two years. It’s great to have him on board as he is an inspiration to a lot of the lads here, as well as a fine footballer.”

Underdown actually comes in at Wetherby Athletic as a replacement for a midfielder who had to retire due to an injury suffered to 35-year-old Leeds-born Chris Walton against St. Mirren in a preseason friendly at Wetherby’s home ground Old Boston Road.

Wetherby Athletic currently sit in 2nd place in their division, just two points behind league leaders Barton Town.

LittleLaney: Cheers mate! After following your own story I think we can both agree that being clear in presentation is a good way to convey important details in stories.
Seb: About half of those teams were just money-makers and also impossible challenges, but even then we didn't embarrass ourselves against them! The bank account is looking healthy now and we look forward to the league campaign!



The first three months of Wetherby Athletic’s entrance into the Northern Counties East League Premier Division has been nothing short of exceptional. Despite going in fearful of how far the bar had raised from Sunday League football, we finish October 2019 just two points behind league leaders Barton Town.


After completing what was a fairly competent preseason against some decent teams - and also some outright exceptional teams in comparison - our beginning to life in the English football league system was incredible as Henry Jacobs netted five goals to finish off our first opponents Silsden 7-1. Our league form continued with a 6-1 win against Goole - one of the preseason favourites - as Jacobs bagged another four goals to make it 9 goals in just 2 league appearances. In August, despite winning another game against Penistone Church 4-1, we were pegged back by Thackley in our first defeat of the season.

After almost a month without any league games due to cup duties, we returned on the 18th of September with a late winner against Eccleshill United, scored by Craig Herd in the 95th minute. It was also a late endeavour to salvage a point against Handsworth Parramore as Karl Milne bagged a 90th minute equaliser before returning to winning ways with a 5-2 victory over Liversedge as Ryan Ferguson scored his first two goals of the season. Once again, the final league game of the season pegged us back as we fell down to a 2-1 loss at the hands of local rivals Knaresborough Town.

October began with three consecutive home league games against Maltby, Staveley and Garforth - winning all three with ease. Albion Sports were our next league opponent as Henry Jacobs scored a 30th minute goal which turned out to be the only goal of the game. A loss to Grimsby Borough gave Barton Town the lead in the league table, made stronger by us dropping points to a 1-1 draw against our competitive rivals Yorkshire Amateur.

In the FA Cup, our aim was simply to be competitive. We achieved this by our early standards with two wins against AFC Wulfrunians and Grays Athletic. We dominated our opponents in the 1st Qualifying Round against Harlow, but it was not to come to anything as we drew the first game before Charlie Dickens knocked us out in the Replay with a 50th minute winner.

In the FA Vase, we have been much more successful. In the 1st Qualifying Round, we battered Lebeq United 4-1, before Easington Colliery succumbed to a 3-1 loss in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Most recently, we had to travel all the way down to Kent to take on Tunbridge Wells in the FA Vase 1st Round and travelled back up to West Yorkshire with a spot in the 2nd Round against Egham Town booked.

With regards to the league table, we are performing way above our preseason predictions of 15th place as we currently sit two points behind league leaders Barton Town. There are several rivals for the top and only promotion spot in the division as we sit level on points with Yorkshire Amateur with Grimsby Borough and Bridlington Town also lurking behind us on points but are still a serious threat at this stage of the season.

Milne’s Verdict

After a fairly impressive preseason which was able to give us a few hints about how we would perform against teams of this level and higher, we have excelled in the early stages of the season. Despite watching a few Knaresborough Town and Yorkshire Amateur matches before our induction this season, I didn’t expect the division to be so weak.

I think our expectations must be adjusted following this start. We should no longer be happy with a mid-table finish if that was the initial expectation and feeling around the club, we should be looking to finish within the top three at this current rate of form and dominance of teams who have played at this level for years. Promotion will be difficult due to the single spot being provided by the structure, but far from impossible.
That is an excellent start to the season!
26 goals in 3 months is certainly not bad for Jacobs!
Amazing start to the season, just 2 points off 1st. If I can recall you were predicted for 15th(?), but that is surely a distant memory now. Up the Salmons!

Fortunately for Wetherby, Tony Holt’s dad owns his own taxi firm in Halifax and the team were able to use his minibus to take the team all the way to Barton-upon-Humber, just across the Hull docks. It was an hour-and-twenty minute drive and Mark was worried that his players’ legs might go stiff with the length of the journey and all the sitting down.

Arriving at Barton Town’s ground - Marsh Lane - the reality hit the players that today could be the day that they go to the top of the table. Mark was the first off the bus and he stood at the door listing the starting eleven for the game today. “Holt, Godden, Khan, Garfield, Jovanni, Jackman, Scholesy, Alfie, Craig, Karl, Jacobs - got it?

“Bench is Paley, Miller, Underdown, Fergie, Baldwin, Kian, Baker - sorted. Sorry if you’ve been left out, but you know how it is.”

The squad slapped Mark’s outstretched hand coming off the bus with their boots clinking on the tarmac. Mark’s dad, Harold was also here to watch the game, joined by the backroom staff of Kenny Chapman, Paul Green and Jon Hood.

After the warm-ups, it was time to head to the touchline as all 30 of the Wetherby travelling supporters stood behind the hip-height wall separating the stands from the grass turf. The coin toss landed in Barton’s favour and they elected to kick the game off at Marsh Lane for this top of the table clash, with Wetherby trailing two points behind Barton in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.

Five minutes in, Wetherby had a good-looking opportunity from a free-kick that was easily within shooting distance for the designated taker Craig Herd. Mark had his hands on his hip, crouched down as Herd lined up. Aiming for the near post, it was up to Barton’s goalkeeper Cartwright to tip the ball around the post for the corner which he did, just about.

Shortly after that chance, Tom Godden got hold of the ball next to Mark’s dugout. Dragging himself out to the right wing, Henry Jacobs received the ball ahead of his marker. The striker hit a cross that went slightly too far, nevertheless, Karl Milne was able to control and turn to face the goal. Swinging a low cross across the face of goal, Craig Herd was there to bag an opener for Wetherby.

With a strong fist pump from Mark, Wetherby Athletic could now say that they topped the table, with today’s opponents falling into 2nd place.

It had barely been five minutes since Wetherby got dangerously into Barton’s half with Karl Milne receiving the ball from Shaqeel Khan. With Jackman taking control in the middle, Alfie Raw received it from the Wetherby veteran. Raw pinged a ball over to the right where Herd looked menacing after his first goal. He ran at Barton’s left-back with his first touch, turning him inside-out as he made his into the box, cutting inside on his weaker left foot. Herd launched a ripper at goal to double Wetherby’s lead to 2-0, much to the delight of the Wetherby players, coaches and fans that had all travelled from West Yorkshire to Humberside.

Deep down, Mark Milne knew that his side needed a third goal to seal their place at the top of the table. With some interplay inside Wetherby’s own half between the central midfield trio of Jackman, Scholes and Raw, a long ball was pumped up to Jacobs who had beaten Barton’s offside trap. A one-on-one opportunity was denied by Cartwright - who had performed well between the sticks despite conceding two. Herd whipped in a corner from the left side which was duly headed away by the tired Barton Town centre-back. Jackman began dribbling back into the box after retrieving possession before unleashing and unbelievable strike across goal, bagging Wetherby’s third goal.

As the captain wheeled away in delight and slight amazement that he had scored a rare goal, never mind a goal with so much technique, his teammates shared that moment by running over to him on at the edge of the box. Slapping his manager’s hand on his way past, Mark Milne told Jackman to make to ensure the players kept their heads as the team captain.

Wetherby went into half-time 3-0 up and comfortably so, with Barton Town not even achieving a single shot on target throughout the entire first 45 minutes. Mark’s half-time team talk didn’t need much substance after this, plainly asking for more of the same and if things get edgy with regards to conceding then to sit back a bit more to defend the precious three-goal lead.

Following a shot that had rebounded off the wall, Herd chased the ball down the right and got to the byline before delivering a perfect ball to Karl Milne. With the goal at his mercy, Karl somehow managed to put the shot wide. “For f*ck sake, Karl,” Mark whispered to himself, expecting to see his side go four goals up thanks to his younger brother.

From a Godden throw-in deep inside Wetherby’s half, Craig Herd had the ball with his back to goal. On his instep, Herd flew past the Barton left-back, who was getting sick of the sight of Herd speeding past him every time. Herd curved his dribbling towards goal before getting twelve yards out before firing a placed shot across goal. The ball hit the post before Barton’s centre-back Barkworth lumped the ball out, thankful to not have conceded.

As the game was drawing to a close, Mark had made three late changes, bringing Jovanni Sterling, Alfie Raw and Scott Scholes off all in the closing five minutes for Paddy Miller, Kian Smart and Adam Baker.

In the final minute of added time by the referee, Khan retrieved the ball from a slow and tired Barton attack. With the Barton right-back committing himself to the previous attack, Milne had all the space down the left wing to carry the ball down, with Jacobs and Jackman in support. As Milne got further down, a cross went to the back post to Craig Herd who headed the ball back to Henry Jacobs who was to get the fourth and final goal of the game.

Shepherding the team back on the minibus after the game, it was agreed that once back to Wetherby at about 8pm, the team would all be heading to The Corn Mill for a celebratory drink along with the staff members and whichever fans happened to be there at the time.

Wetherby Athletic had just taken their position at the top of the division.

Griffo: I’ve got to say I’m very proud of the lads!
Jim: Jacobs is on fire, no doubt about that. We were indeed predicted a 15th placed finish at the end of this season, but as shown in Milne’s Verdict at the end of these three months, we’ve adjusted to our own expectations off the back of the first part of the season, in which we’ve done fantastically.
What an incredible win for Wetherby! I'm sure that if the lads continue to perform like that, the league title will be a walk in the park
Back to the Corn Mill for a pint or seven!
An absolute brilliant result for Wetherby. There are some decent sides in that division, Goole were definitely the stand-out names in the division. However, the debutants have come in and shook the division up thus far. Let's hope they can continue their good run. Has to be said, you've performed admirably in every competition - knocking out Grays is a real coup, as they were in the Conference not too long ago. That could be one of your greatest results yet, relatively speaking.


After Mark’s verdict regarding Wetherby Athletic’s expectations based on the performances of the opening months of the season, we are still in line to finish within the top three with ease. Going into the final three months of the campaign there is hope of promotion and a title to our name and also excitement about FA Vase progression.


We began November 2019 with an FA Vase fixture against Egham Town who play in the Combined Counties Premier Division - the same tier as ourselves - and we came out 1-0 victors in the 2nd Round of this cup competition. This was followed by a 2-1 win against Hemsworth Miners Welfare. Possibly the highlight of these three months came just three games in as detailed before with the 4-0 crushing of our title rivals Barton Town thanks to a brace and an assist from Craig Herd. Another dominant win came with a 3-0 win over mid-table outfit AFC Mansfield. An eight-goal thriller was next as a late Scott Coupland equaliser from Athersley Recreation made us drop two points despite being 4-0 up until the 65th minute! We finished November off with a 5-0 victory in the FA Vase 3rd Round against Newcastle University’s football team.
December 2019 brought the fewest amount of fixtures so far this season as we only played one game every Saturday. We began brightly with a 2-1 win over Bridlington Town - who have collapsed rapidly following their bright start in the first three months. We followed this with another win against Handsworth Parramore as Henry Jacobs and Mike Jackman led us to a 3-0 win. However, we lost our top spot to Barton Town once more as we lost two consecutive games 2-1 against Liversedge and Staveley Miners Welfare.

After a poor end to the annual year, we got back to winning ways with a 5-0 mauling of Knaresborough Town as Ryan Ferguson bagged a hat-trick on what was a rare start due to an injury suffered by Karl Milne against Staveley MW. Bridlington Town lost 6-2 this time as Ryan Ferguson bagged another two goals, but Jacobs stole the limelight with a hat-trick. We returned to FA Vase action in the 4th Round against Wroxham and we secured a 5th Round entrance with a 3-0 win over the Surrey-based side. A draw against Penistone Church in the league meant we dropped two more points in the title chase, but the players were quickly forgiven with a 4-1 win over rock-bottom Silsden - who are almost certainly relegated at this point, sitting on 8 points, 13 away from safety.

Despite thrashing the league leaders in November by a four-goal margin, Barton Town have now extended their lead at the top to four points over ourselves in 2nd place. This was mainly down to the two consecutive losses in December to Liversedge and Staveley, but we should have also picked up the full three points against Athersley Recreation in the 4-4 draw after bottling a first-half 4-0 lead in the very last minute. After a decent run throughout December and January, Yorkshire Amateur lost their most recent fixture to Grimsby Borough, giving us a two-point lead over 3rd place.

With regards to the bottom of the table, Silsden are as good as relegated despite appointing a new manager in January in the form of former Prescot Cables Under 23s manager Franklin Chukwu. The battle to stay up now lays between Thackley and Hemsworth Miners Welfare. Both Penistone Church and Liversedge are in relatively safe positions at the moment, both being at least six points safe as it stands.

Milne’s Verdict


The two matches we lost at the end of December were absolutely excruciating to be a part of, knowing that we had thrown away our lead at the top to Barton Town, who we had done so well to beat in November. Our performances in the FA Vase are increasing our reputation in local and lower tier football, but it must not take away from our league performances, though I have enough confidence in my players to override any concerns with the involvement in the cup competition.

As we enter the final three months, we get the opportunity to play both Barton Town and Yorkshire Amateur at our home ground, Old Boston Road. This will give us an opportunity to bring ourselves and Barton Town closer together, meanwhile pushing Yorkshire Amateur away. However, as shown by losing to 6th-placed Staveley and 16th-placed Liversedge, we can’t underestimate any of our opponents in the final run-in as we are already having to bank on Barton Town dropping points.

We are too far into the season and doing too well at this point to desire anything other than winning the title and securing that singular promotion spot that is on offer, so that is our goal in the final three months, building up to April.

Jim: It was crazy to watch, knowing how well Barton were playing up until that point! The league being a walk in the park however, I'm not so sure ;)
Griffo: T'was a quiet night in at the library :P
Scott: Goole were heading up before the season according to the bookies, testament to their size in comparison I suppose, even if they have underperformed to this point. I was stunned by the Grays result, having noticed that they were also a team of reasonable stature comparably!
Humming along nicely :)
Jacobs is a cheat code! A real shame to lose those games to throw the top spot, in particular the game against Liversedge, which the table suggests is a much weaker side than yourselves. Hopefully January's form can continue throughout the new year!
Wetherby's games aren't lacking in goals or entertainment. That's largely as a result of Jacobs who has been an absolute revelation. Although they've lost top spot, there's a lot of football still to be played and still performing far better than expected.
45 goals in 26 games? I mean I think it's unfair for every other striker in the league. Also, I should take back the "walk in the park" as I was definitely wrong about that. May have jinxed it a bit so.. sorry mate!

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