“To the Queen!” the boys all shouted.
‘The Queen’ was basically the customary toast before drinking except the boys in The Corn Mill pub toasted to the name of the reigning monarch - Queen Elizabeth II. Nobody ever thought much of the action, it was done more out of instinct than a celebration of the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy.
Mark Milne had grown up in Wetherby since his mother and father had moved from Bingley in the 1990s, when Mark was only five years old. Born on 20th December 1989, Mark had made the small market town into his own. Since when he was old enough to get into pubs around the age of 14, his personality made him a lot of friends and he slowly became a leader in the small town which had a population of only 15,000 at this time.
The Corn Mill served as his regular drinking hole where he would go to have a few drinks before taking a bus into Leeds City Centre to watch his beloved Leeds United at Elland Road in the successful days of the early 2000s.
Whilst following his favourite team both midweek and Saturday afternoons, Sunday mornings were reserved for his Sunday league team - Wetherby Athletic. His team enjoyed great success in the very local regions, with Wetherby’s geography proving to be handy due to its proximity to North Yorkshire despite being part of a Leeds postcode. With Leeds United’s Thorp Arch training ground and academy centre being just ten minutes drive away from Wetherby Athletic’s home turf Old Boston Road, lots of Mark’s players were picked off by Leeds’ scouts over the years.
Within his family, Mark Milne had a brother, Karl, who was five years younger than him, as well as an older sister, Julie, who was just two years older than him. With football bringing the brothers together, Mark and Karl were able to develop a much stronger relationship over the years as Karl began joining Mark on Leeds United trips to Elland Road and all over the country.
To Karl, Mark was an idol. Mark was able to get Karl into his band of friends due to how much respect others in Wetherby had for Mark and the Milne family name itself. With Mark running the local football team in the town he was able to build positive relationships all over Wetherby. This height of stature that Mark held in the local area made Karl in awe of his personality and his mannerisms, even more so that his older brother was bringing him into the thick of it.
On the sunny Sunday early evenings when the Sunday league players came into The Corn Mill battered and bruised after the strong challenges from the much more physical West Yorkshire divisions, the pain was always smoothed over with the use of alcohol and the team’s camaraderie which the pub locals always loved to be part of too. Wives and girlfriends were either hauled up to the pub with their partner, or told an excuse as to why they would be back home late that Sunday night. Either way, it was all good fun.
But this was all acceptable, after all. Mark Milne had built a community out of nothing, and everybody loved it.
And so this is the story of Mark Milne.