‘World’s Loudest Goalkeeper’ – Andy Brooke’s Non League Journey

Former Worsbrough Bridge and Garforth Town goalkeeper Andy Brooke

Andy Brooke was a defender’s nightmare. Not the opposition’s, his own! Brooke terrorised his Worsbrough Bridge and Garforth Town defensive team-mates during his ten-year Non League playing career by continually shouting instructions during a game, earning the unofficial title of ‘world’s loudest goalkeeper’.

But on a serious note, Brooke was the very reliable stopper for Worsbrough and Garforth during some of their most recent greatest periods. 

He was a crucial part of Worsbrough’s almost mythical 2002 NCEL Division One third-placed finish side – a forgotten piece of history until last week when Duncan Bray and Shane Kelsey wiped some of the dust away to shine brand new light on the remarkable achievement. 

Who was the goalkeeper for Garforth the day Brazilian legend Socrates played? That was Brooke.

If you’ve not remembered Brooke yet, he also had five minutes of fame last year when Ian Richards incredibly brought him out of an 11-year-long retirement at the age of 41 to play for promotion-chasing Penistone Church in a 1-0 win at Albion Sports. Brooke thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke when he got the text from Richards.

This is the Andy Brooke story: 

Goalkeeper Andy Brooke making a save

“People will remember me for being the gobby goalie! I thought because people have said I’m the world’s loudest goalkeeper, that was the reason you wanted to speak to me! 

“When I was 13 or 14 a coach told me that I could see all the pitch and see everything that is happening and that I had to talk to people and I think I took that to the most extreme level it can go. For 90 minutes, I’d constantly scream at everyone. The ball could be deep in the other half and I’d be screaming at our strikers or screaming at defenders to either push up or tuck in. It made me chuckle reading Greg’s (Kelly) article when it says ‘you could be having the best game going, but Brookey would be always screaming at us if we do something wrong’. I think it was my way of being involved in the game all the time. Being a goalie you sometimes don’t touch the ball for five or ten minutes, but constantly talking kept me in the game and kept me switched on and on my toes. When the ball did come down my end, I was ready to go. Referees would always come and say ‘oh we haven’t got you again have we. Are you going to be quiet today and keep that mouth shout’?

“After I played that one game for Penistone, Scully (Martyn Scully), Gars (Lee Garside) and a few of the other Worsbrough lads from my second spell there were on Twitter joking ‘god help those Penistone defenders with him behind them’. 

“It was all good fun and even in the bar afterwards I was chatting to the Penistone fans and they were saying it was great to have a goalkeeper who shouts a lot. So the feedback is not all bad!”

Route into Non League Football 

“Bit of background about me, I was on Sheff Wednesday’s and Barnsley books at youth level. It came to the stage where they were offering YTS contracts and Wednesday thought Barnsley had signed me and Barnsley thought Wednesday had signed me so I didn’t get anything.

“I went to Barnsley College and while there I heard about scholarships out in America to play so I went there for four years and then came back. I went to a University called Hofstra which is on Long Island in New York. Barnsley College had links with them as a few other people from Barnsley like Zak Wright and Simon Riddiough had gone out there and done really well. I was lucky to go. Over there it was like playing lower league football with the facilities you had and because you trained every day. I got to see the whole of the East Coast of America through playing all different universities and I came away with a degree in teaching physical education. I wanted to come home and teach in England and that’s what I do now. I’m a PE teacher in Wakefield.

“It was when I came back in September 2001 and I wasn’t really playing until I got a call out of the blue from Sam Pickering who ran Hoyland Town Jags – a very successful Sunday League side. That came about because Sam knew the coach I was with in America and he recommended me to Sam. Every changing room I have been in, its that team spirit and the banter you have with each other that keeps you going and makes you want to play and train. It is the good times and stories that you remember. You could ask me about certain games, but I probably won’t remember many of them, but I remember more of the dressing room and that’s what you miss. Hoyland’s dressing room was superb.”

Worsbrough’s mythical 2002 third-placed finish team

“I was playing with the Jags and the Worsbrough manager Mark Grundy either saw me play for the Jags because we shared Worsbrough’s ground or he heard about me. He gave me a call to come and play for Worsbrough – my first taste of Saturday football in England. 

“That’s how it came about and it was the year when Worsbrough took off with Dunc (Bray), (Shane) Kelsey, Brett Renshaw in the side. We had a great season and we should have got promoted – and we would have done if it wasn’t for the daft games where we messed up. Kelsey reminded me of a typical Non League player. He’d be one of those who on a Friday night who was out until 3am drinking, but turn up on a Saturday fresh as a daisy and run for 90 minutes, cover 10km and score three goals. He was that good. But he also had that nasty streak which is always good to have, especially as a forward when defenders are always keen to give you a good kick. Those situations brought the best out of Kelsey because he’d be like ‘oh you like a battle do you, well I’ll give you some’. Sometimes these big defenders like to act tough, but if they get a bit back, they don’t like it.

“I remember my first game. The changing rooms were at the top by the car park. In America I had been used to these big changing rooms with physio rooms and proper physios working with us and I walked in the Worsbrough changing room and there were tiles off the walls, the shower area and the toilet area were in the same bay. I was looking around thinking ‘what am I doing’? I looked at the field and it looks a bit like a farmer’s field on a slope and a bit of mud-bath. But then the lads start arriving and you introduce yourself and the only thing I remember is a throw-in in front of the dugouts where the stand is. We were kicking downhill and I came to the edge of my box and I was screaming for the ball because I wanted to switch the play out to the right. I can’t remember who took the throw-in, but he looked around to say ‘why do you want the ball’? I was screaming and he threw the ball to me and after passing it on I was chuntering to myself. After the game I remember them saying ‘we’re alright, he knows what he is doing’. It was like my initiation was ‘would I be willing to have the ball and play with my feet’? I think I won a few of the lads over and I was a permanent fixture in the team.

“From what I remember of Mark (Grundy), he was more of a motivator and he really got you going and pumped up to do well in matches. We had a great team – people like Richard Hirst at right-back, Craig Robinson at left-back. Ian King, Keith Thompson, Mark Garrett, Scott Needham, Matt Higginbottom, Chris Boreham. I remember Andy Watson the captain because he never left Mark Grundy’s side and Mark never left Andy’s side. They travelled together and they were like Batman and Robin.

“We only lost four league games all season and I played 30 games that year and we only lost one with me in the net. I think it was a big shock that Worsbrough were up there. Some people probably took us for granted saying ‘it is only Worsbrough, we don’t need to show up and we’ll still win.’ We’d surprise teams and come away with some good wins. For us we just kept turning up and winning games and having sneaky looks at the table when it was like ‘we’ve got a chance here’. It just didn’t happen as we dropped points in the final few games. 

“Mark left (after three years in charge) in the summer to go to be the assistant manager (to Eric Gilchrist) at Ossett Albion. Things started to fall apart and because we did so well other teams started to take notice of some of our players and offer a bit of money. I don’t know about the other lads, but at Worsbrough I was happy to play for nothing. For me it was about the enjoyment of playing football and wanting to do well. 

“Dunc went to Sheffield FC and others left too. There were only myself, Brett, Chris Boreham, Johnnie Jackson, Scott Needham and Roger McKenzie from the third-place finish side. I wouldn’t recognise Roger McKenzie now if I saw him, but I’m sure he played pro for Doncaster Rovers and Scarborough. We got him from either Parkgate or Maltby, I’m sure he was meant be the final piece of the jigsaw in regards to the promotion push the year we finished third. Obviously we weren’t able to get over the line.

“Mark’s assistant Carl Airey, the former Barnsley player, was meant to take the manager’s job. I can’t remember the full story, but the club rung Alan Billingham who was in Magaluf at the time and he and Darrell Bowman took over.

“I have great memories of the two main people who ran the club. John Cooper was the chairman and he worked behind the bar and was there at the Hoyland Town Jags games too. I have a lot of time for (secretary) Charlie (Wyatt) and John as when my dad died, my mum still went to all the Worsbrough games with me and they took my mum under their wing and gave her one of the committee tickets so she could go in the nice areas and get a cup of tea and sandwich.

“They were top guys and they’d anything for Worsbrough Football Club. I remember John Cooper standing on step ladders to put nets up, doing things to the field. Either John or (goalkeeper coach) Nigel (Hanks) used to have the big fishing pole and rod. A ball would go over and a new ball would be kicked on and I’d look over one of them had the big pole to scoop it out of the river as money was tight and we couldn’t afford to be losing match-balls and having to spend £30 a-piece to replace them.

“Charlie was always there first putting the kits out and I always remember his little grey dog which used to run around. I love dogs and I probably used to mess around with the dog than warm-up. I know Charlie is definitely still doing that now (a secretarial role) at Penistone and I think John goes with him to watch all Penistone’s games. 

“Nigel warmed me up and he did some work down at Sheffield United too and I’d help him on a Friday with the juniors ranging to five-year-olds to 14-year-olds. He just asked me one week because he had too many kids and he needed to start splitting groups. Knowing my teaching background, he thought I’d be a good person to do it. I helped him for three or four years. I’ve not seen him for years.”

Move to Garforth during the Socrates era

Garforth Town players with Socrates. Weirdly Andy Brooke is not on the picture

“Brett is one of the best players I have ever played with and he went off to Garforth around 2003. He was gone one week and about ten days later I got a call from Brett saying ‘do you want to come to Garforth’? Garforth put seven days’ notice in for me and Worsbrough let me go and speak to them. That’s when I met Jimmy Martin for the first time.

“Simon Clifford was the owner, but Jimmy was the manager when I went there. I met Jimmy at J38 in the lay-by by the Post Office Pub. I arrived early as I always do. His car pulls up behind me and he flashes me so I go sit in his car. He gave me the spiel about Garforth and wanting to build a side that is capable of winning promotion. He sold me the club and I had seen the ground and it is a lovely ground so I was happy to sign. Then he threw in ‘we’ll give you some money to play’ and I was like ‘pardon’. I was shocked, but I accepted the wage. Looking back, other people would have probably haggled. I just took his first offer because I couldn’t believe someone was willing to give me a bit of money to go play on a Saturday.

“At the start of the following season, Jimmy left and Simon became the manager. I bought into everything that he said. When he came in he said that he wanted to take Garforth through the leagues and he pointed out that it was amazing that a city the size of Leeds only had one professional club. He wanted Garforth to be the second professional club in Leeds. At all the meetings and talks in the changing rooms I was like ‘I’m with you here’. There were surreal moments, but it was a great experience playing for Garforth.

“We trained on a Tuesday and Thursday and Tuesday tended to be a running day. We’d run down Garforth Main Street, do the loop around Garforth. Being a goalkeeper I was like ‘I don’t run, I’m a goalie’. But everyone had to do it. One time I remember forgetting my trainers. I ended up running round Garforth with my moulded boots on. I never forgot my trainers again. 

“Greg has spoke about the ‘Road to Amarillo’ blasting out over the tannoy to disrupt the momentum of the opposition’s attacks. That song became our theme song the year we got promoted (2005). We’d be singing it in the changing room. It would come on in the bar afterwards and we’d start singing it. 

“I enjoyed playing for Simon. He was so passionate about Garforth and he was just a winner. He wanted to build something for Garforth and if it meant bringing Lee Sharpe in or Socrates over, he would do whatever it would take to make our team better and boost Garforth’s profile. Without Simon no-one would know anything about Garforth. Before Socrates you had only heard of Garforth if you played in or followed the NCEL. 

“I’m a bit like Greg over the Socrates game. It is only when other people mention it that I throw in ‘oh I played in that game’ – such as if there’s a quiz about Brazilian footballers. The lads were all excited in the build-up and in the week before about him playing, wondering how many people would come, which TV stations would be there. What Socrates would be like?

“I feel a bit sorry for Greg as he gets remembered for missing the penalty, but I think I should have done better with Tadcaster’s second goal. It was a cross and maybe I should have caught it? We’d have won 2-1. Socrates would have played and all good news rather than it was a draw and Greg missed a penalty. Like Greg said about afterwards, what I remember the most was walking into the changing room and hearing an awful noise. It was Socrates who we knew wasn’t in great physical shape, was struggling after playing. It is not a nice memory, but after he settled down again, he was as sound as anything. He signed whatever we wanted. He signed my gloves and they’re down at my mum’s house. She looks after them and they’re like a keepsake that I’ve got that I can show to people when I’m older.

“I also remember the Carlton where we got promoted. It must have been the only bus where we travelled on a bus. We got changed on the bus and because it was a winner takes all it was a tense affair. There was a lot of people behind me because their clubhouse was behind the goal. I was getting a bit of grief and one of our fans came to me and says ‘Andy, everything alright’? I knew who he was because he’d been on the bus. I said yes, but he stayed there and next time someone chelped at me he went and had a quiet word in their ear. That person disappeared and then when the next person who said someone, he went and had a word in their ear – that person disappeared. So from being constantly barracked, it went to a situation where nobody said anything. He stood there making sure I was totally focussed on the game and not getting any grief that would take my mind off the game which was huge. Greg got the goal and we won promotion.

“A Shirebrook game at home sticks out as I saved two penalties. Gedling away stands out and it was the best game I ever had for Garforth. It was a cup game and a night game. Simon had picked a really young side and it made me raise my game. I had a blinder that night. I was a brick wall because Gedling couldn’t score. I pulled off a worldie save from a free kick. Their attacker bent one into the top corner and to this day I don’t know how I got to it by launching myself at it and tipping it over. One of their strikers came up to me and said ‘how did you get to that’? I looked at him and said ‘I don’t know’. 

“Lee Sharpe was brilliant to play with. I remember the Parkgate game where we won 6-1. Lee Sharpe scored two, but it sticks out for me because my dad had died and it was his funeral the day before. Everyone knew because I had missed a couple of matches. It was my first game back and Lee came up to me and said ‘sorry to hear about your dad, we’ll win today for you’. He was unstoppable. Nobody could stop him. He could do whatever he wanted to with the ball. After scoring one of the goals he ran to me and pointed as if to say ‘that one’s for you’. It meant a lot to me.

“We had a great team. Brett and Nick Jaggar at the back were probably the best pairing I have ever played behind. They were awesome in the air, awesome with the ball at their feet and quite happy to dribble it out. They could defend and they liked a tackle. You had Greg who could play anywhere. He was good on the ball. We had two strikers in Andy Rowan and Gavin Birmingham who scored for fun. The blend was there to do well. We also had players who liked a battle – certainly Brett, Jags and Andy Rowan did.

“I played for Garforth during the 2005/06 season and then moved on a month or so into the following season as Craig Parry was signed. My final two seasons at Garforth were interesting as I was voted supporters’ player of the year two years running. It was a really nice thing to get as I had never received anything like that before, even my Junior days. It is your goal-scorers who tend to get all the credit. The first year I won it I was totally taken back and I was touched by the fans who came in their numbers and watched Garforth that they picked me out of that really good team we had and they thought I should get the award. I won it again the following year and that was the year I saved those two penalties against Shirebrook.

“There was no hard feelings about leaving Garforth. I had a lot of time for Simon and if I saw him now ‘I’d shake his hand and say ‘thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for Garforth’.”

Back to Worsbrough and Retirement

“Bowy (Darrell Bowman) had heard I had been released by Garforth and he was quickly on the phone and asked me to go back back to Worsbrough. I played around another three years for them.

“I played near enough up until my daughter was born. A lot of us packed at the end of the season Bowy packed in. He’s had enough. My priorities changed a little and I was leaving my wife and daughter at home and was going to games and standing there in wind, rain, snow ‘thinking what am I doing here’. Towards the end of my final season I was making mistakes which I had never made before. I was letting goals in I should have been saving. My head probably wasn’t in it and I knew it was time to stop and retire (around 2008).

“Results were poor, but after you text me I wrote a list of names that played for Worsbrough during my second stint there. You had Martyn Scully who played up at Stocksbridge, Liam McFadyen who is the captain of Stocksbridge now, Lee Garside who is scoring goals for fun for Athersley, Ryan Poskitt whose been at Nostell and other places, Luke Forgione, Dean Shirt, Nick Handley. The problem were that these lads were all young lads. I was probably the oldest one there at 30 or 31. They were 18-year-olds starting their careers. They had great ability and nearly all are still showing that now.

“Looking back now, I feel for Jared Oxley. He played in goal for Worsbrough when I played for Garforth, but when Bowy brought me back Jared got pushed to the side. Did I stop his growth and development because he wasn’t playing? He came training every week, he trained hard and he pushed me in training and what a great lad he is. It was funny when I played for Penistone because I didn’t realise Jared was involved there.”

Called out of retirement in February 2019

Penistone Church manager Ian Richards brought goalkeeper Andy Brooke ‘out of the cold’ when he needed an emergency stopper. Brooke had retired 11 years earlier, but he kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win at Albion Sports.

“I got called out of retirement when I played for Penistone Church last year when Ian Richards called me when he was short. I’ve known Ian and his brother Dunc since we were kids as we grew up on the same estate.

“It is a good question why he asked me! One goalkeeper was injured, another goalkeeper was away on a family holiday and Ian had spoken to Dunc, Ringy (Andy Ring) and Brett (Lovell) about it. I don’t think it was a time when the first team and reserves couldn’t really swap goalkeepers.

“He must have said in a meeting with them ‘I could give Andy Brooke a ring’? A few of them must have gone ‘who’? He’s reeled off my biography and I do think some of them sort of knew who I was from a charity game I played up there six months before. Apparently it was unanimous that they wanted to go get me.

“Ian sent me a text message saying ‘any chance you could help me out by playing in a game’? I read it and thought ‘is he having a laugh, does he know I haven’t played for ten years’? I thought it was an April Fool’s Day wind-up. I showed my wife and even she said ‘is he joking? Does he know the last time you played properly’? I looked at it for a bit and eventually replied saying ‘are you serious? It has been ten years since I last played’. He then phoned me to explain the situation. ‘If you’re happy, I’ll help you out’, I said. Penistone were having an awesome season and they were there or there about’s and I was more worried about hurting their chances of winning promotion. I said ‘look Ian I’d be more devastated if I drop a clanger and I let one in that I should save and it makes you lose the game and spoils your season’ But he was insistent ‘don’t worry about that, I want you to play, if there is any comeback, it is on me not you’. That’s the type of manager Ian is. He’s thinking about his players first, rather than himself. Even now when I read reports, he always says it is him who has not done something right, not his players. That’s a great quality he has instilled in himself.

“Ian said ‘Charlie will be in touch to sort out the paperwork’. I didn’t think anything of it. Charlie phones me and goes ‘aye up Andy, I bet you didn’t think you’ll be hearing from me did you’? I didn’t realise it was him so I said ‘pardon’. He went ‘it is Charlie from Worsbrough’. That was it because we were talking about the old times because Charlie also did the Hoyland Town Jags as well.

“On the Friday I had to dig out my boots, wash my gloves, find all my bits and bobs. I wore my shin pads that I had since 1997. I got my lucky towel that I have had since 1997 which were with my gloves and they all went with me to Albion Sports.

“Me being me I got there early. I do it for some reason, it must come from my time in America, but I like to arrive at the ground early and go into the changing room to think about the game. Charlie obviously gets to games early so he can do the team-sheet and put the kit out. We had a big hug and a big ‘how are you doing, good to see you again’? 

“All the lads came in and I introduced themselves. I sat there like the new person at school thinking ‘I know you, I sort of know you from reading reports’. But they were all great. We ended up winning 1-0 and I made a couple of saves in the first half which were crucial. In the second half it was all at their end and it was only a matter of time before we scored. We scored in the 88th minute would you believe and it took us to the top of the league as it happens because a few results went right for us.

“Ian put something on Twitter about it saying ’41-year-old helping us to get to the top of the league’. BBC Radio Sheffield got hold of the story and they phoned Ian about me so I had my 15 minutes of fame.”

Present Day and Future

“I still keep an eye on Non League results and news as I follow Worsbrough, Garforth and Penistone on Twitter. Because I live in Penistone, their result is probably the first I look for. I go up there to watch them occasionally, but I’m a season ticket holder at Sheffield Wednesday with my eldest daughter. Every other Saturday we’re down there for our sins. When we get back in the car my daughter will look on her phone and tell me how Penistone got on and how Garforth have got on. I keep track of how my old clubs are doing. I’m quite sad really because I like looking at goal-scorers on a Saturday night from both NCEL Divisions and I look and say ‘he’s still playing from when I played’. Then there’ll be names jump out and I’ll say ‘he never scored against me’. I smile and remember my playing days.

“One of my only regrets is that I don’t have any photos from my playing days. For whatever reason I’m not on a photo of the Garforth team with Socrates! It is a real shame as my daughter is sports mad and she’ll love to see some. The photos from the Socrates game always make me chuckle as you only ever see that photo where he is in the dugout with Jacques Joblon and the other sub that day with big grins on their faces.

“With Ian (Richards) being deputy head at Penistone Grammar School, I see him occasionally as that’s the school my daughter goes to. When I see him in his office I’ll bash on his window when I’m walking out and I always say ‘I’m ready when you need me’! He laughs and he says ‘I know you are’. I think he says it to amuse me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he phoned me to say ‘help me out again’ and I would do. I think I can do one-off games, as long as Wednesday aren’t at home! Doing a full season? No. It did me in playing one game. It took me 48 hours to recover. Not physically, but the mental side because of the way it built up from the Wednesday Ian asked me to play. It was all I thought about from the Thursday to the Saturday morning. It mentally drained me.”

Andy Brooke was interviewed by James Grayson

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