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Wetherby Athletic: A New Dawn

Started on 16 October 2019 by Jack
Latest Reply on 31 March 2020 by Justice

Saturday, 14th April 2018

“...I do.” Carla smiled as she said those life-changing words, looking her new husband in her eyes.

The Vicar began to say his piece following the confirmation by the couple: “You have declared your consent and vows before God and this congregation. May God confirm your covenant and fill you both with grace. Pastor to people: Now that Mark and Carla have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands, and the giving and receiving of rings, I announce to you that they are husband and wife; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.

"God the Eternal keep you in love with each other, so that the peace of Christ may abide in your home. Go to serve God and your neighbour in all that you do. Pastor to people: Bear witness to the love of God in this world, so that those to whom love is a stranger will find in you generous friends. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

Mark and Carla looked at each other, gleaming with happiness as Heidi sat with her grandmother Eileen in the front pew.

“I introduce to you, for the first time, Mr. & Mrs. Milne.” The Vicar stated, finally. This announcement was met with a ripple of applause and whooping from both sides of the family and from the couple’s friends who had crowded into the church.

Mark held Carla’s hand as they turned to face the cheers and applause within the church before heading down the steps and walking between the pews to the church doors, showered with confetti as they went.

The newly wedded couple were met outside to even more confetti as the door was held open to the white Bentley that was to drive the couple away from the church. At the reception, later that day there would be a receiving line with Heidi - approaching 2 years old - at the front of the line. Carla would be the next person as the younger person in the marriage before moving onto the groom and then the couple’s grandparents.

A great night was expected, with a big feast provided by Eileen and entertainment being provided by different people involved with Wetherby Athletic and Mark and Carla’s respective workplaces.

Griffo: It's a common thing, as you get older it means more responsibilities and therefore prioritising!
Scott: 'New addition' as if Heidi is a new signing for Wetherby :)) We'll see how the football side of things goes from now after the wedding!
Love a massive feast! COME ON EILEEN!
Congratulations to the newly weds! Here's to a long and prosperous marriage.
Congrats and hopefully she is fine with your future in management
Jack's avatar Group Jack
3 yearsEdited

The Beginning

Saturday, 15th June 2019
Mark had called a team meeting up at the local pub, but nobody really knew why. The team had not really been going to the pub after games much anymore, with six years passing since Mark had first made friends with the likes of Paddy Kenny and Luke Varney. There was still a great vibe around the club but it was the fact that individually, everyone had more responsibility these days than to be constantly at the pub.

Regardless, all the players made it up on Saturday evening, just past six o’clock on the Saturday evening. Mark ensured that everyone had a drink in their hands before taking the big roundtable at The Corn Mill Pub.

“Yesterday,” Mark began.

“All my troubles seemed so far away!” Everyone began laughing as Scott started jokingly singing The Beatles’ famous song.

Mark chuckled along with it before starting again, except not with as much of a lengthy pause. “Yesterday after work, I received a call from our good friend down at the Football Association - a certain Mr. John Hendry.

“As I’m sure some of you may remember him as the man that came down to confirm that we wouldn’t be welcomed into the English footballing pyramid, despite letting Yorkshire Amateur in - I know, mental.” Mark said.

“So what did that dwarf want?” Asked Tony Holt, the goalkeeper of Wetherby Athletic.

“Well, he was keen to know if we would be prepared to take the position of Bury FC following their liquidation. Obviously there will be a pending reshuffle of the English divisions coming up to the beginning of the 2019/20 season, but he says he has a vacancy for us.” A lot of murmuring went around the table as the big news was laid out for them.

“I obviously said that we would be very interested in this, however, he needs to know that we will safely be able to provide a full team. So what I called you up here for is to get to know exactly who wants to play for Wetherby next season in the debut season in the English footballing divisions!” Mark said, looking around the table and noticing a few excited looks.

“That’s fantastic, Mark,” Tony Holt said. “I’m in, absolutely.”

“Ah! A goalkeeper! That’s very handy, cheers Tony.” Mark said with a grin. “OK, I’ll tell you what will be easier - give us a show of hands if you’re in for next season.”

Eight hands shot into the air out of the 14 people gathered around the table or standing up.

“So, just to confirm: We’ve got Tony Holt, Craig Heard, Henry Jacobs, Karl Milne, Mike Jackman, Scott Scholes, Sean Garfield and Shaqeel Khan. Is that correct?” Mark said, looking at his list before raising his head again.

“Yeah, but Mark: are you not in for next season? I just didn’t hear your name, that’s all.” Shaqeel asked as those around him agreed with the line of questioning with a nodding of heads.

“I will just be managing you next season. Something that I’ve not told you lads is that recently I have had surgery on my right ankle, meaning that I will not be able to play due to the increased physicality of the divisions that could potentially worsen the state of it. Doctor’s orders, I’m afraid.” Mark admitted with a defeated tone in his voice, however, the lads appreciated Mark staying on board for the management side of the team.

“OK, we’ve got eight players there. John will be happy to know that as a starting grid, but the preparations must begin immediately - and that means recruiting players. Think you can manage that, lads?” Mark asked, knowing that some of his team are well-connected with Leeds United’s academy rejects of years gone by.

The players nodded their heads before they began the night to celebrate finally getting on the footballing ladder.

Griffo: That's why we love weddings ;)
Scott: I'm sure Mark and Carla would appreciate your message ;)
MJK: Let's hope so!

Great update, loving this story, I expect the recruiting to be like the Mighty Ducks from here on in haha
Finally! Life is all falling into place for Mark with the wedding, his daughters birth and now the massive news of a place in the Footballing system. However, I hope Karl, who seemed to be struggling earlier on, isn't left behind.
Great news. The hardwork begins now.

With the introduction of Wetherby Athletic into the ninth tier of English football, it’s about time to introduce Wetherby Athletic to the reader.

Wetherby Athletic are based in the market town of Wetherby within the borough of the City of Leeds. The town sits on the border between West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, with the town of Harrogate only a fifteen minute drive away from Wetherby.

Wetherby Athletic was formed as a club in 1949, during a time when the town had a miniscule population to what it has today. The club earned its nickname of The Salmons due to the local fishing trade’s involvement in the market town’s economy in the past. With the club coming straight out of Sunday League football, the club’s professional status stands at an amateur level in line with most of the league’s competitors.

As for the division that Wetherby Athletic will play in, they are registered to the ninth tier in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division. With a predicted finishing position of 15th upon Wetherby’s entrance into the division, it is Goole and Bridlington Town that look the favourites for this years title. In this particular league, Wetherby’s old rivals Knaresborough and Yorkshire Amateur are also predicted for 10th placed and 19th placed finishes respectively.

In charge of administration is the mother of the Milne family, Eileen. She sits at the head of the board along with her husband, Harold Milne and local benefactor Alan Kitchener. In charge of first-team affairs is Mark Milne, who played for the club up until ankle surgery ruled him out of playing competitive football. However, Mark has always been the manager of the club throughout his time there. Also involved in the backroom staff is a long-time friend of Mark Milne’s, Kenny Chapman who will be his assistant manager. Former Ossett Town and Frickley goalkeeper Jon Hood joins as a goalkeeping coach and former Leeds United midfielder and friend of Mark Milne, Paul Green joins as a coach.

The club plays their fixtures at Old Boston Road, away from the youth sides who play at Wetherby Recreational Ground on Sunday mornings and afternoons. The ground can hold up to 1,000 people, but is unlikely to do so despite crowds numbering in hundreds previously.

Moving onto the squad, we begin with going through the goalkeepers.

The undisputed first-choice goalkeeper at Wetherby is Tony Holt - a player at the club under Mark Milne for many years during the Sunday League days. The 29-year-old was born in Leeds in 1990 and knew the manager as a result of going to the same school as him as a teenager. A bricklayer during the week, Holt is known as an eccentric between the sticks (and also in the pub!).

Providing backup to Holt in goal is former Guiseley academy goalkeeper Fletch Paley. Ten years younger than his superior, Paley was advised to join the club recently through a chat with Wetherby striker Henry Jacobs.

Now we will take a look at the defence, going from right-back to left-back.

Tom Godden signed up for Wetherby due to the clubs close relationship with Leeds United, with the Championship side’s academy playing at Thorp Arch - just a short walk across the bridge over the River Wharfe. The 20-year-old played in the Leeds academy from the age of 12, but was released after the club released him as his scholarship came to an end. Milne’s backup right-back is Leeds-born James Blair. The 29-year-old is much more experienced than Godden in the lower divisions, having played in the North West for Flixton and Winsford before a four-year spell at Mossley until 2018.

George Proctor signs for Wetherby after being turned away from Barnsley following a three-year spell in the club’s academy. The 21-year-old was released in 2017 and has not played football since, having got a job in credit instead. Proctor will act as a backup player for Wetherby. The first-team player Paddy Miller is perhaps one of the most experienced players in the team with the 28-year-old beginning his career at Guiseley. The centre-back has played all over Yorkshire and the North-West between the 6th and 8th tier of the game, even earning him a short spell at Bradford Park Avenue.

The star centre-backs this year have to be Sean Garfield and Jovanni Sterling, though. Jovanni Sterling - like Tom Godden - came through the Leeds United ranks before being released. However, the 20-year-old was picked up by Rotherham United just a season after, and despite not playing in a first-team fixture for The Millers, he proved his worth to be picked up by another Football League academy. Sean Garfield has been a player at Wetherby for some years now and has been made vice-captain by Mark Milne. He grew up on the council estates of Belle Isle in Leeds, playing rough football despite having great talent. Garfield has given up his job as a customer service officer at Sky Bet to put his effort into helping Mark Milne out with Wetherby Athletic.

The starting left-back for Wetherby will be Shaqeel Khan, who joined Milne’s Wetherby Athletic last season during their final season in Sunday League football as a result of working alongside Mark Milne as a legal administrator at Milne’s everyday job. 19-year-old Jordan Baldwin will form a backup option for Khan at left-back with previous experience at Halifax’s academy and playing first-team football for Brighouse in the Northern Premier League Division One.

Making up the defensive midfield role will be the captain, Mike Jackman. The 31-year-old is a highly respected figure in the squad after getting to know Mark Milne through council work. He is much admired after playing for Wetherby before being diagnosed with cancer four years ago, before coming back to play football and be just as good as he left. He will be the starting defensive midfielder. Former Preston North End academy player Kian Smart joins the club as a backup to Jackman.

In the centre of midfield, Wetherby stalwart Scott Scholes makes his way into the team. His lack of professionalism is forgiven due to his fantastic passing and physical power in the middle. Joining him in the centre will likely be new recruit Alfie Raw, who makes his way back into football having been released by Huddersfield in 2017.

As backup for Scholes and Raw, Caldon Henson will be making his way back into the lower leagues for Wetherby. Born in Leeds, Henson played for Wakefield, Brighouse and Droylsden whilst keeping his job as a male underwear model - which has been the butt of many jokes already by the Wetherby players. 35-year-old Chris Walton also joins the club as a result of knowing Mark Milne’s father-in-law who often went to see Farsley Celtic during his time there.

On the right-wing, new recruit Craig Herd will likely be the regular starter. Only 18 years old, Mark Milne has got to know Craig’s father as he has gotten older and has taken him on following short-lived spells at both Harrogate Town and Wetherby’s divisional rivals Knaresborough Town. Former Bradford City academy player Adam Baker also joins the club after a long spell at Tadcaster Albion before his eventual release as Tadcaster signed former Leeds prospect Henry Rollinson.

On the left is Mark Milne’s younger brother, Karl Milne. The 24-year-old has been central in every aspect of the Milne’s life and it is fortunate that Karl just happened to be a fantastic winger to become a starter on the left-wing. He is supported by former Wakefield and Droylsden winger Shaquille Clarke who will provide a backup option for Mark Milne.

With Craig Herd providing an extra option if necessary up-front, Wetherby Athletic only have two out-and-out strikers.

Henry Jacobs is a close family friend of Mark Milne and excelled in the Leeds United academy during his youth before being released in 2016. Since then, Jacobs has been extraordinary in Sunday League football for years, outscoring his appearance statistics in every season. He will be a tough man to be displaced. However, Jacobs has actually convinced his old strike partner at Leeds United academy, Ryan Ferguson to join him at Wetherby Athletic. It is assumed that Jacobs will remain the main striker, but Ferguson could push his way into the side or even form a partnership should Mark Milne wish to play that way.

Griffo: I see you’re getting into the role of Scott ;) The recruitment has basically been a ‘he’s mates with a good player, get him in’ drive :))
Seb: At last, sorted out with a wife, a child and now the final jigsaw - Wetherby Athletic getting into the system.
Scott: Indeed it does! It’s a long way up there!

Saturday, 6th July 2019

After the friendly against St. Mirren ended, Mark knew that he had to head straight off to the Leeds General Infirmary. Chris Walton had gone down in the 89th minute after he had attempted a tackle on Kyle McAllister. He had seen it too many times in football in the particular manner of which players go down if they have a serious injury, and Walton’s looked serious.

After he was carried off by Harold Milne and other backroom staff from both teams, Walton sat on the sideline in agony with his leg sprawled out. An ambulance was called and Mark Milne got into the back with Walton to the hospital.

The paramedic kept talking to Walton as he groaned all the way there. Chris had been playing lower league football all of his life and never played for a professional outfit, so never really got the experience of proper training.

Once the X-rays were done it was expected, but gutting news. Walton had broken his lower leg and was informed by the doctor that it would be at least eight months until he could play football again, at any level.

He turned to Mark, who had sat beside his bed whilst his leg was held up high. “Mark, mate,” he said, looking over at him with pain etched all over his face. “There’s no way I’m coming back from this one pal. I’ve got to retire, you heard the doc.”

Mark knew that this was coming. It was always a risk to bring in a 35-year-old at the end of his career that had been entirely spent in the lower tiers of the game. “I understand, mate. I haven’t known you all that long compared to some of the other lads, but you’ve been a great bloke to work with - and I speak on behalf of the team on that one, I assure you.”

“Obviously I need to get out there and find myself a proper job now, which is going to be a pain telling the wife!” Walton laughed, with the smile quickly disappearing from his face as he noticed the reality of his life from now.

“If there’s anything that we can do for you, like our family, the club - anything - just let us know, Chris.” Mark said. “I remember when I first spoke to you when we got you to come down, you told me that you’d like to get stuck into a bit of scouting or recruitment once you’ve retired, I mean we can provide that for you if you’d like!”

“That’s lovely Mark. Like I said, though, I need to sort things out with the missus in terms of where I go from here after this,” he said, looking longingly at his defeated leg. “I’ll absolutely take that into consideration, though, what you’ve just said. Cheers Mark.”

Mark smiled apologetically as he stood up, ready to leave. He knew that some of the lads were down the pub waiting to hear what the results were with Chris, and Chris himself needed some rest after what must have been a humbling day for him indeed.
Tidy introduction. I'm ready for the good stuff to begin now!
I'n not following Scott, its not my fault you type out bangers consistently haha
And now we're into the swing of things! I've thoroughly enjoyed the story so far, and we've even had Scott singing! You'll have me singing soon if you keep things going the way they are ;)
You must have updated as I posted my comment last time. Massive shame for Walton... It's tough luck for the veteran of the side, but the offer is on the table to continue his involvement with the side should he wish to do so.

Our first preseason just before our entrance into the Northern Counties division was largely a fundraiser for the first part, before some impressive morale-boosting performances as we came towards the beginning of the competitive season.

We began our preseason by a standard game against out Under 23 outfit - largely just a crop of the players kids or friends who were old enough to take on adults. That was an easy ride as we bagged eight goals with Henry Jacobs and Craig Herd scoring hat-tricks.

Moving on, Derby County agreed to a friendly with us at Old Boston Road which drew in a large crowd to bolster our attendance, followed by fixtures against St. Mirren and Bristol City. We lost all three of these games to professional sides, but we didn’t embarrass ourselves with Henry Jacobs scoring two in the selected games.

A draw against a recovering Bury FC was next up after we had taken their place in the English leagues following their liquidation under Steve Dale. Another two losses came against Guisborough Town and Fleetwood Town before beginning to rack up the wins again against Bishop Auckland, Thornaby and Pickering Town.

We rounded off the preseason warm-up with a 1-1 draw against Buxton.

With the preseason selection of games garnering a nice bit of income for us, we are ready to take on Silsden in our first competitive fixture in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division. We also begin our FA Cup and FA Vase campaigns up against AFC Wulfrunians and Lebeq United respectively.

Scott x2: I did only intend for Walton to be a last option backup for the competitive fixtures, but a loss nevertheless. Whether I replace him or just keep the midfield as it is, I'm not sure yet!
Griffo: I know, how rude!
Justice: We're off the mark! The football season is upon us now!

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