As the build-up to the 2020/21 campaign in the Northern Premier League Division One North West, we can confirm what will be our first-team going into this season’s preseason campaign - beginning with a friendly against Farsley Celtic at Old Boston Road.
The addition of Chris Elliott means that last season’s number one Tony Holt faces tougher competition for the spot between the sticks.
Holt had a good season for The Salmons in our title-winning season of 2019/20, conceding 49 goals in the full 38-game period in what was a notoriously high-scoring division. In all competitions, the 30-year-old kept 15 clean sheets, achieving an average rating of 6.85. Chris Elliott was contracted as backup for Darlington in the Vanarama North last season and didn’t get a game in any competition in 2019/20.
From right to left, Bryce Hosannah and Lewis Turner arrive to fill the right-back spots in the side, with Hosannah likely to be the starting player out of the two, having just been released by Leeds United. Vice-captain Sean Garfield is set to be our star centre-back once again, with Will Thornton coming in from Guiseley to partner him. Oliver Casey and Jovanni Sterling are set to be backup centre-backs for Garfield and Thornton. At left-back, Wetherby stalwart Shaqeel Khan looks like he is being shifted out of his starter spot by Matty Downing.
In midfield, captain Mike Jackman will be our defensive midfielder for the season, with Kian Smart leaving this summer. In the center, Seth Meeson arrives to prove himself to be the main central midfielder in the team. Scott Scholes and Alfie Raw will have to fight with him and Cole Gibbon for a highly-contested starting spot in the middle.
Craig Herd will remain our starting right-winger, with Theo Hudson coming in as backup. On the left, Karl Milne will also remain as our starting left-winger with Dylan Mottley-Henry coming in as backup.
In strike, our main man Henry Jacobs obviously keeps his place after a record-breaking season last time with 61 goals in all competitions. Rob Harker comes in this season to try and compete with the 23-year-old.
This summer eleven players arrived, mainly from Leeds United’s youth team following their release.
Although not pictured, the first signing was right-back Bryce Hosannah, arriving from Leeds United. The 21-year-old featured in Marcelo Bielsa’s Australian preseason tour for Leeds United, playing against Manchester United, but not taking part in the Championship season for his club.
Hosannah shows great promise, with great talent in the attacking sense with his crossing and dribbling ability. His defensive play may need some work, but his physicality makes this a reasonably achievable task.
Cole Gibbon was our second arrival, having been released by Leeds United earlier than his contract expiry date by manager Gordon Strachan. The 18-year-old never featured for his hometown club in the end.
However, he featured regularly in the youth sides at Thorp Arch with his great physical talent bettering most in those divisions. He has appeared to be more of a defensive central midfielder rather than one that likes to get forward. He will have to scrap it out with his central midfield compadres for a starting spot in this season’s team, though.
Oliver Casey was the first centre-back we brought in this summer following Paddy Miller’s intention to quit the club having only played a substitute last season at Wetherby. He comes from Leeds United’s academy and possesses great defensive attributes for his age at this level. He certainly won’t be out of consideration for starting spots on matchdays.
Matty Downing comes in to be our starting left-back after Jordan Baldwin quit Wetherby in the summer, meaning that Shaqeel Khan drops down the pecking order to fight Downing for the starting spot down the left.
Similar to Bryce Hosannah on the other side of defence, Downing possesses great attacking ability for a full-back, but isn’t as lacking in defensive ability as Hosannah perhaps is. Despite being on loan to Guiseley in Vanarama North last season, Downing sadly didn’t get to make any first-team appearances.
Chris Elliott comes in after Fletch Paley proved last season that he simply couldn’t provide challenging enough competition for starting keeper Tony Holt.
A Bradford City academy graduate, Elliott has seen a lot of action in the English - and even Swedish - lower tiers. He played for Harrogate Railway and Harrogate Town before a move to Swedish Second Division side Bodens BK. Harrogate Town brought Elliott back in 2016 before he got himself a starting spot at Vanarama North outfit Alfreton Town. Elliott has spent the past two seasons not playing at all for either Spennymoor or Darlington.
Despite providing a good backup to Henry Jacobs last season, Ryan Ferguson wanted to leave Wetherby this summer for a starting spot elsewhere. Rob Harker, recently released by Burnley has arrived to fill that void.
Jacobs will undoubtedly be an immovable object as the lone striker this season, but if injuries are an occurrence, I believe Harker is a great backup to have when called upon. Harker scored 5 goals in 20 games for Burnley’s U23s last season.
Theo Hudson is an extremely talented individual, joining us from Leeds United this summer to fill the backup spot left behind by Adam Baker. He will be a backup to another star performer from last season in Craig Herd.
Hudson made one appearance for Leeds United in the cup last season in a Carabao Cup match against Oldham Athletic. Aside from that, he has impressed in the club’s U18s and U23s, helping out with numerous assists over the years.
Seth Meeson joins us from Championship side Huddersfield, who he made one senior appearance for last season against Queens Park Rangers in the league as a substitute in the 80th minute.
Possessing a great range of passing and physicality up to the standard that he will come up against in the 8th tier, he is a surefire starter in this Wetherby team.
I believe Mottley-Henry is a super signing, despite being brought in initially as backup to Karl Milne on the left. His appearances in the Football League for Barnsley and Tranmere are a testament to how good a player he is. However, his 3-goal return in 54 games is a worry for us, but he is a superb backup to rely on if needed late in a game.
22-year-old Will Thornton is likely to be a regular starter alongside our vice-captain Sean Garfield at the back. Last season, Thornton played in defence for Guiseley and made friends with fellow new arrival Matty Downing whilst playing there. He has made 57 appearances for his hometown club Guiseley in his career. He finished 13th in Vanarama North last season with Guiseley, so is a superb addition to an 8th tier team.
Lewis Turner has made himself familiar with the lower leagues ever since his first couple of loans to Chester whilst under contract at Leeds United until 2014. He later moved to North Yorkshire to play for Harrogate Town, earning promotion with them in 2017 after three years at the club. Turner joins from Farsley Celtic this time and is set to be backup to fellow right-back arrival Bryce Hosannah for the 2020/21 campaign.
In terms of departures, Adam Baker, Jordan Baldwin, James Blair (now at Harborough), Shaquille Clarke, Ryan Ferguson, Jamie Underwood, Tom Godden, Caldon Henson, Paddy Miller and Kian Smart all departed the club after being released.
Aye, just the 61. The additions are here, with a lot of deadwood also shifted before we went semi-pro! There is room for maybe one or two more, though.
Thanks mate! Shh, Eileen's becoming a cult hero just because she fits the bill of a song
It will be a long slog, hence the three-monthly updates.
Although a couple players had minimal influence on last season, all of them should be happy with that title-winning performance. I was terrified of another season in that league going into the last few games, but what a relief when they swung my way! Onto the next.