Ex-North Ferriby captain Paul Foot’s Non League Journey

Former long-serving North Ferriby captain Paul Foot celebrates lifting the NPL Premier Division title in 2013

Inseparable Paul Foot and Gary Bradshaw are never far away from each other so it is fitting that the former is the latest subject of our Non League Journey interview series.

Inseparable could be a word also used to describe Foot’s love affair with North Ferriby.

From what started as a chance conservation with Brian France in 2001, Ferriby has become the centre-piece of the centre-half’s life…and it still is. He has served them as captain, manager and now as a junior team manager for his son’s under 9s team. Foot even met his future wife Sadie in the Ferriby clubhouse.

Foot captained Ferriby from the France era and right through to Billy Heath’s 2013 NPL Premier Division title triumph – with a stint playing full-time football with Scarborough the only break. As an ex-Magaluf club rep, he was also the perfect custodian of the ‘Green Bag’ which was synonymous with his and Bradshaw’s Ferriby career.

Following his exit from Ferriby in 2013 as a player, Foot spent three years with Scarborough Athletic – first as a player, then player/joint assistant manager and finally joint manager with Bryan Hughes. 

This is Paul Foot’s Non League Journey:

Paul Foot with close friends Gary Bradshaw and Chris Bolder after the 2013 NPL Premier Division title win

Early Beginnings 

“I started off at Hall Road Rangers at 17 when they had three teams and I played for a guy called Paul Moss who was the manager of the under 19s team. I then went into the reserves and then into the first team pretty quickly over three years. Chris Lee was the manager of the Hall Road first team and it is where I first came along Dave Simmons. Dave was secretary of Hall Road and he used to drive the minibus. I’m sure a lot of us remember the journeys. He went onto be the press officer of North Ferriby and I’ll always remember when he passed away because it was a massive shock to us all.

“After Hall Road I went to Bridlington Town where Billy Heath was the manager. I’d played with him for a local Sunday League side called Orchard Park, but Bridlington was where I first played under Billy and Bobby Carroll. I had a good season there. 

“Around this time I went for a week’s trial at Sheffield United. I didn’t get a contract so I went and worked in Magaluf for a summer. I just thought ‘stuff football because I can’t be a professional’. When I came back, Steve Richards got in touch with me. Steve was involved with Brid at one time, but then he got the manager’s job at Frickley so I went there for six months (2000). We played a game against Ferriby in 2001 and Bri France said to Carl Wood ‘why’s he playing for Frickley if he is from Hull’? That was that really because he spoke to me at the end and he asked me to come down. I’d always wanted to play for Ferriby, I’d just never had the chance before. I suppose I was illegally approached! But whilst Frickley wasn’t miles away from me, it made sense to go to Ferriby.”

Playing for Brian France at North Ferriby

Former North Ferriby and Scarborough manager Brian France

“I loved playing for Brian literally from the first time I spoke to him. I always got the impression he loved me. We had a really good bond from the start. 

“A nice story of him is when we had a charity event for him after his accident. We were going down a line to shake his hand and he went ‘oh its Paul, how are you doing Paul’? He didn’t really remember many people who were there so it was really nice. His son Darren said how nice it was. 

“Darren actually used to joke that I was more of a son to Brian than he was! Bri was a colourful and lovable fella. Some people didn’t like him because if you were sub he wouldn’t explain why or talk to you. But if he liked you he loved you and it was brilliant to play under him. He was like a father figure to me. I’ve played under some good managers, but I loved playing under Brian. He gave me confidence. He made me captain at Ferriby. There was a centre-back called Rob Dewhurst who captained Ferriby and he was a great captain and I learnt a lot off him. Bri overlooked some experienced players to make me captain. He really believed in me and my confidence just grew. He pushed me and he helped me get my contract with Scarborough. He didn’t want me to go, but he was pleased for me.”

Full-Time in the Conference with Scarborough (2004)

“The two years with Scarborough are the only time I have played full-time football. It was something I didn’t think would ever happen when I came back from Magaluf a few years earlier.

“I packed in a job to sign for Scarborough, but I wasn’t bothered about the job. I remember going into see Nick Henry and Neil Redfearn and them telling me they wanted to sign me. They offered me something like £180 a week and I went ‘yeah I’ll sign it’. Neil Redfearn pulled me and said ‘look Footy, you don’t do it like that, you’re meant to negotiate’. I just said I wanted to be a full-time footballer, I wasn’t bothered about the money. I should have been more savvy, but I was 23 and I saw it as my last chance saloon to play professional football. That’s why I snapped Nick Henry’s hand off for £180 a week. I did get a few bonuses that maybe topped it up to £250 or £300, but money wasn’t my motivation. 

“Everything changed for me. You’d be training on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Ferriby. Now I was training every single day. It was a great time and I met some great people and I still keep in touch with some of. Steve Baker who was an older player who had played at Middlesbrough, he became a good friend. I’m still in touch with him, as well as Tyrone Thompson who I think is an agent now. I still speak to Kevin Nicholson occasionally. He ended up being the manager of Torquay. He was a good left-back and a very professional kid and I should have took more time to watch kids like him. Tony Hackworth was there. 

“It was a bit daunting to start with because I was a wee kid going into a full-time environment with experienced players. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but ultimately I regret I didn’t try harder at Scarborough. I regret I didn’t push myself more and allow myself to be the kid I was at Ferriby. Having said that you can’t have regrets. 

“We used to train at Olivers Mount in Scarborough and that was horrible. Running up there in the snow was one of those horrible, but enjoyable times because it was good when you finished.

“Neil Redfearn was the assistant when I went there, but then he became the manager and it was fantastic listening to him. He deserves a big mention. He really helped me a lot in my first season with Scarborough. He told me how I should play and how I should be. He’s a brilliant guy. 

“One of my best memories of playing for Scarborough was away at Exeter. Exeter were due to play Manchester United in the FA Cup so the fans needed to go to our game with them so they were eligible for the Man U tickets. There were thousands of people there. I remember turning round to Leigh Walker in goal and see all the fans behind the goal. I know he wasn’t looking forward to the game! I think we got beat, but that’s a good memory.

“One of my daftest red cards was with Scarborough. Neal Bishop got kicked and ended up on the floor and I came flying over from 40 yards. I’m sure it was Gravesend away. Nick Henry went barmy with me, but I had seen Bish get kicked and it p****** me away and I thought ‘you can’t do that’ so I ran 40 yards and grabbed this kid, but I kind of shoved him in the neck. He went down and I ended up grabbing loads of people. It wasn’t a fight, but it was a scuffle.

“I’ll always remember the fans too because they have always been good. They always took to you and they were always supportive. I had a good relationship with the fans during both my times with Scarborough. Even after we got sacked as managers, I still got on with them.

“The money problems came in the second year and there were times when you weren’t getting paid on time or there would be rumours that you weren’t going to get paid. It had a big effect on everybody. It certainly had a big effect on me because I hadn’t been a professional before and I had never had the problem before. I think in the second season there were a few lads whose hearts weren’t in it because of the money problems. When the club went into administration all the lads bar a few were told they would have to leave. They were going into the Conference North so young lads like Michael Coulson, Carl Cook, Jimmy Beadle were kept on. The club basically told me and others that there was no contract there for us.”

Return to Ferriby 

Former North Ferriby captain Paul Foot

“As soon as Bri found out that I was leaving Scarborough, he turned up at my house for a cup of tea with the secretary Stephen Tather! It was completely out of the blue and he had a signing on form in his hand! Our lass shouted ‘Bri’s here’. I leapt out of my seat on the sofa and she was like ‘were you expecting him’? I laughed and said ‘no, but you better put the kettle on’! 

“Bri basically said ‘how much do you want’? A bit of a regret is that I shouldn’t have gone back. Harrogate Town wanted me and I should have pushed for trials at clubs higher up, but Bri lured me back. I told him my wage at Scarborough and asked if he could match it? He said he didn’t think he could. I just said ‘that’s what I’d like’ and he went ‘well we can’! I signed the papers there and then. It was like the roles had reversed from when I didn’t properly negotiate my contract at Scarborough! To be fair to Bri and (chairman) Les Hare they stuck to their word. Contracts weren’t common back then. Now they are flying everywhere. Everything back then was done by the shake of a hand. I wanted to be paid every week regardless of whether I was playing or not and the club stuck to its word. I trusted Bri and Les and trust and loyalty has always been a big thing for me.”

Meeting his future wife Sadie

“I have lived in Ferriby for around ten years. I met my wife Sadie at Ferriby because she worked behind the bar when I first signed. I used to go into the bar and try and get served by her. That’s how I met Sadie and it went from there. We have two kids now and we still live in the village.”

Walking to Matches 

“I used to walk to the ground for home games. What we used to know was; Gary (Bradshaw) would drive to my house at about 11am and we’d always have scrambled egg and beans on toast. He’d come for breakfast every week and then we’d walk through the village to the game. That was our routine every single week. After away games and after going in The Duke, I’d walk home from there at midnight!”

Gary Bradshaw 

“I had played against a few times when I was younger, but it is at North Ferriby where I first got to know him. We became mates and drinking partners. That’s when all the trouble started! Me and Bradders have such a weird relationship that we have been together at nearly football club we have played for and we also work together.

“I used to be a self-employed plasterer and Bradders came to work for me for a year when he had enough of Tesco’s. We both then went and got a job at Siemens. We got interviewed on the same day and we both got our jobs on the same day. We’re also on the same team at Siemens. I can’t get rid of him basically! People always take the mick saying ‘are you two joined at the hip’? It is crazy. But our girls got on fantastically so we’d have karaoke parties at my house. Chris Bolder and his wife used to come round so did Ryan Williams and his missus. Then we became really good mates with Bryan Hughes from Scarborough so him and his missus would come round.”

The Green Kitty 

“When I was first signed for Ferriby, Rob Dewshurst was the captain and there were people like Adam Lowthorpe, Nathan Stead and they liked a drink on the coach on the way back from away games. I used to go to the back of the coach with those lads and that’s where I picked up running the bar with Gary at the back of the bus. Rob Dewshurst used to have the kitty bag and when I was made captain he basically passed the green bag to me. I think when I came back to Ferriby, Chris Bolder may have been captain. But Bri made me captain again so I got the green bag again. 

“The green bag would also have the fine money in and it would all go towards the end of the season night outs which the lads always loved. We loved being together and the coach trips were unreal. You always put Kendal away in the diary because it was seven or eight crates away. You never thought ‘oh that’s two hours away’. We’d meet at The Duke with the crates of the beer which the driver would sometimes put in the fridge and those journeys became the most enjoyable part of it all. If we won it was unreal, but even when we lost our togetherness was unreal.

“When we came back from away games we used to go into The Duke pub and I think the regulars got a bit fed up of us. Because all the drinks money was in the Green Kitty you’d walk in and slam the kitty on the bar and say ‘right who’s having what’? We’d be in there drinking all night. What was more of a laugh was on coach because I’d be like ‘who’s ringing their lass first’? Lads would be like ‘we’ve only just set off, he’s kept us in the changing room for an hour and half’. We’d all be giggling away about getting one over on the missus. One time at a home game mine came to pick me and Gary up and I went ‘do us a favour Sadie, drive round the block again’? I actually think she went home.

“I once remember us going into Hull once because my dad was doing a karaoke competition. We all went into Hull with our tracksuits on to watch him on the karaoke. I think some days it was like my days in Magaluf because I was always organising nights out. It sounds now like it was all about the drinking, but it probably was because all we wanted to do was have a laugh with each other. We were all great mates.

“At the end of the season we’d go to places like Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle. The first season we did it, say we had a couple of £100 quid left I’d put it in my pocket and with whoever was with me we’d go and get a sit-down curry. It was me and Gary to start with. We’d fly off, go get a curry and then go back to the digs we had. The next year someone would twig on ‘oh Footy’s got that kitty, I’ll go with him’ so I think it was me, Steve Wilson and Bradders. The last time I went out everyone was with me and I was like ‘f*** off will you lads, I want to get this curry’. There was about 15 of them and there were like ‘we know what you’re doing Footy, we want to go for this curry with you’. 

“We built up a real good team spirit. Around Ferriby there wasn’t really any other clubs at the same level. Around Bradford and Manchester there’s loads of different teams around. If leave Bradford (Park Avenue) you can go to Farsley Celtic, so on and so. Up here Ferriby was the best Non League club and the lads just wanted to play there. They were also local. Everybody got along and there was never anyone who came in who we didn’t like. So we created a real good bond and togetherness. We stayed together for a number of years. There was myself, Bradshaw, Ben Morley, Chris Bolder, Mike Price, Steve Wilson, who was an outstanding goalkeeper, who all stayed with Ferriby for a long time.”

The Neil Parsley / Neil Allison / John Anderson eras

“It was a big shock when Bri left because we all thought he’d have the job for life. Neil Parsley came in and he kept us up in the first season, but it didn’t really for work out for Pars. He had come into an environment where everyone was comfortable. I think it was probably everyone’s fault why it didn’t work. I spoke to Pars when I was manager of Scarborough and I said to him ‘if I was a problem, apologies, I didn’t mean to be’. I think we buried the hatchet. 

“The Hednesford game when Kevin Larvin scored a header to keep us up on the last day during Pars’ time as manager is one of my most stand-out memories. I’m sure Pricey got sent off early doors as well. 

“Neil Allison was fantastic, a great guy and I used to travel to games with him sometimes. He was a centre-back so I played alongside him and he was hard as nails. He was a good coach and it was a shame he moved to Australia because him and John Anderson had a really good partnership. They got us as a team and we started to do well. 

“We got to the play-offs under Spanner (Allison) and we got beat by Boston. Even though we got beat, it was a great experience. The only reason I remember it is because I scored in it! We did brilliant, but Boston scored two worldie’s. In my view that game was one of my best as I was so driven to get us back in the game. I went upfront and I ended up scoring to make it 2-1 and I think I hit the bar with a header. 

“I used to love playing against FC United at Gigg Lane because of the crowd and the way they sang throughout the games. They had some good players. Do you remember (Dave) Chadwick, the centre-half? I thought he was always decent. 

“I also remember playing against Hyde in the FA Cup and we beat them 4-3. I think I scored a hat-trick. I played in midfield, but it was massively bizarre because I never really scored. But personally I haven’t got any FA Cup stories because I never got to the First Round. It is something I wish I had done when I look back. I don’t really regret anything, but that’s probably one.

“One of my Ferriby red cards was against Worksop. Someone grabbed Ben Morley and threw him to the ground. Me and Sam Denton ran in and grabbed hold of them. It was right near the stand and someone got pushed into the stand. Me and Sam both got sent off and two of theirs got sent off. At Ferriby it is really tight as you go into the changing rooms so me and Sam had another scrap with those two Worksop players. Both benches came flying in. Neil Allison was the manager and he got involved. I actually remember my dad joining in. It all got separated, but after the game everyone had a beer together. It was fantastic! 

“After Neil went to Australia, John became the manager for a year before Billy Heath took charge. Billy always wanted to be manager of North Ferriby and when he came in he needed to shuffle the pack and ruffle some feathers and make the job his own. I always got on with Billy as I had played with him when I was 17 and then for him at Brid Town. I know some of the lads didn’t like him or his style of play, but in all fairness I probably fitted into his style of play as I was a no-nonsense centre-half so just headed and kicked it sometimes!”

Winning the NPL Premier Division title on the final day of the 2012/13 season

Foot collecting the Doodson Cup a few days before the final day victory over Ashton

“I had a good season and I captained the team as we won the league, Doodson Cup and East Riding Cup. I feel like I played a big part in it.

Ferriby celebrate winning the NPL Premier Division title

“That final day win for Ashton United was just a good day for Ferriby. I was on the bench with Gary as I was injured at the backend of that season. It was good because I got to lift the trophy and it was good because we went in the bar and had a good laugh. I know what Gary means when it says it was a strange day because we had so many good times at the club and this felt different. Because I hadn’t played that day, it felt like I hadn’t won it if that makes sense. It was still good, don’t get me wrong because we had a great weekend.”

Leaving Ferriby (2013)

“I knew it was probably my time to leave. The golden shake of getting paid every week was not there anymore. Billy said it was going to be pay as you play and to be fair to him he offered me a good deal. But in my head I thought ‘I’m not going to play’. Money had come in and I knew they were after some big names to freshen it up. I didn’t want to be a sub for the club I love. Maybe I should have stayed to prove people wrong? But I moved on. I was a bit bitter at the time because I loved Ferriby so much.”

Joining Rudy Funk’s Scarborough Athletic

Paul Foot playing for Scarborough Athletic

“Because of the fans from my time with the old club I was definitely keen to go back. After leaving Ferriby there were not many clubs I would have gone to. I had that link with Scarborough.

“Darren France got me over to Scarborough and I didn’t expect to end up as assistant manager with Bryan after being only there a few months. Darren and John Reed obviously left and my injury sort of forced it on me. I was fairly vocal and when I was injury I still went to games and Rudy would lean onto me for my thoughts as captain.

“Rudy invited over to his house once to sign some players and I didn’t know what to expect as he said his wife Sue would put some food on. There were sandwiches, sausages rolls so all these perspective players were coming round and we were tucking into this buffet. 

“He is the type of bloke who can twist your arm to do anything. He used to ring me up all the time. My lass used to say ‘oh you’re going to be on the phone all night with him’! I used to shout the dog and say to Rudy ‘just hang on’ while I got ready to walk the dog. He’d be telling me stories, we’d go off the subject of football and talk about Keith Alexander, all the stuff he used to do back in his day.

“We once did a kit launch where we went out on a boat which went out into the sea. We had beers and fans could pay to go on the boat. We then went back to a local pub to do a kit launch. It was crazy. But the club has such a good fanbase they could do it. Rudy rang me one night and said ‘Paul you need to come down to Scarborough because we’re going on a boat’. I thought ‘what the **** have you got me doing’? It was typical Rudy. He was like ‘we’re going on a boat and we’re going to sail out to sea and I’ll get you some beers. It will be good and I want you to come out in this pub wearing the new kit’. We walked out in this pub wearing the new kit. It was like a fashion show. There was me, Bryan Hughes, Bradders, Tony Hackworth, Ryan Blott and Pete Davidson.”

Rudy Funk’s abrupt exit

Final act: Paul Foot stands behind Rudy Funk as Funk hugs Harrogate Railway manager Billy Miller – literally minutes before announcing his resignation as manager of Scarborough. Photo: Caught Light Photography

“There was a lot building up to it as there were a lot of disagreements about how things should be done. A lot of the boys didn’t have any time for Rudy anymore, but nobody expected it (after the Harrogate Railway defeat). We went in at the end and he came in and kicked off at everybody and walked out. Me and Bryan then did the assistant talk saying ‘look lads, we keep going’. When we came out Dave Holland the chairman pulled us and said ‘look lads, Rudy’s left’. Me and Bryan couldn’t believe it. I never even spoke to Rudy that night which annoyed me and Bryan. We’d had all the phone calls over our time with him and he had not even pulled us to tell us. I found it strange that night, but Rudy was a passionate guy and when he made that decision it will have been a heavy heart. He has such good memories of managing Scarborough and I can imagine it wasn’t nice making the decision. He has actually said that to me since. 

“There’s been no hard feelings because I was going to go to AFC Mansfield with Bradders before I got the Barton job. I had actually signed the contract so it was horrible to ring Rudy and tell him because I have always prided myself on trust, loyalty and honest. I felt I was out of order, but when I told him, Rudy was so supportive and he understood. He cancelled my contract and the chairman (Andy Saunders) at Mansfield who I had never met was fantastic with me. I managed Barton against Mansfield and I always get on with Rudy and always had a beer. He’s a good fella and he did well for Scarborough.”

Joint manager of Scarborough with Bryan Hughes  

Bryan Hughes (right) and Paul Foot (left) were joint managers of Scarborough Athletic for just over a year

“Myself and Bryan replaced Rudy and I always say we shouldn’t have done it as joint managers. I wish Bryan had got the manager’s job and I had been his assistant. I wish I had played longer and got myself fitter. Although we became good mates and we still are today, we were different as managers. Bryan would have been better off as manager with his experience. I would have been better as assistant and being joint managers is where it went wrong.

“But our reign started so well. We finished the season so strongly and we just missed out on the play-offs. So going into the summer of 2015 there was a really good buzz. We had signed some fantastic players. Ryan Qualter came and he was absolutely quality for us. He’s gone onto do really well. Tom Corner played upfront for us. Ryan Blott, Bradders, Alex Peterson who ended up going to play decent. Jimmy Beadle, Alex Metcalfe who was decent. Steve Mallory was brilliant for us and I loved him having around. He was great kid and he scored some fantastic goals. I liked him as well because he was a hard player. 

“We started so well by winning so many games on the bounce and on social media me and Bryan were the best managers Scarborough had ever had, it was the best start to a season ever and people were saying we were going to walk the league. I think at one point we and a couple of Premier League teams were the only teams unbeaten at one stage. People were really raving about us.

“Ben Simpson the goalkeeper got injured and things just fell apart. It was crazy. We lost a couple of games and those brilliant strikers I named just couldn’t scored. Bradders left us to go to Hull United and I think it was because it got to him that he couldn’t do well for me. He used to apologise to me and Bryan in the car.

“But we had a fantastic team and as quick as we got built up, we got knocked down. That’s football for you. We just couldn’t buy a win by the end. Do you remember New Mills? It was the year before they lost every game, but we drew against them. We were getting beat at one point and the Scarborough fans were going mad and shouting ‘get rid of these useful two’.

“We left near Christmas and we knew it was coming. Dave Holland met us and told us and he seemed like he didn’t want to do it. He was a nice guy. I was gutted because I love football, but it was a weight off my mind. My lass even said to me that I was happier. She’d find teams written all over the house on envelopes, kitchen rolls, newspapers. I’d always be on the phone or with Yozzer watching games. We probably tried our hardest and put the effort in, but we couldn’t buy a win. It probably was a relief, but we needed to be sacked because we wouldn’t have walked away.”

Life outside Non League Football 

“When Siemens came into Hull it created over 1000 jobs and it is decent money. Getting a job there was my kind of exit out of football because it is shift work. I saw it as growing up and getting a proper job and put my family. I was doing ok with the plastering, but when Siemens came up it offered a pension, good money, holiday pay, sick pay and offered so many things that self-employment didn’t do. I had been self-employed for 13 years alongside my football which always topped up my wage. 

“When I was plastering we had to save up for a holiday, but since I have been at Siemens we have been on holiday for the last three years and not had to worry about anything. Christmas has been fantastic. For family life and money-wise it is the best thing I have ever done. But I hate because I can’t play football. 

“I was manager of Barton when I started working for Siemens. We had just stayed up and I passed the manager’s job over to my assistant Dave Botham and I tried to stay involved with, but it was difficult so I left. I played the odd game for them to help them out.

“When Jamie Waltham had Ferriby, I went back to help manage them for a bit with Joe Lamplough for six months, but again it was difficult. I was on shifts so I shouldn’t have done it. But Ferriby asked me if I could do it and it was a bit of an honour to go back and manage them.

“I still go to Ferriby now all the time because my lad’s nine and he plays for Ferriby. That’s the best thing ever for me and I always try and point out my pictures in the clubhouse to him! I help coach his team now which is fantastic and that keeps my involved in football. Me and my lad walk down every week and Martin who runs the team with me, me and him have become drinking buddies now. It is really nice because we go back to the club and I see Les Hare and me and him will have a drink. It is like I haven’t been away. Les will open up the 4G for the kids and I’ll have a drink with him and it is good. Ferriby will be part of my life forever.”

Paul Foot was interviewed by James Grayson

If you have enjoyed this interview and the Non League Journey interview series, please consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation NLY Community Sport which provides sport for children and adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. CLICK HERE to visit the JustGiving page.

NLY Community Sport, run by James Grayson and Connor Rollinson, has always had combatting social isolation at the top of our objectives when running our Disability Football teams so when the green light to return is given, our work will play an important role in reintroducing our players, who have disabilities and learning difficulties, back into society.

We have six teams, a mixture of Junior and Adult teams – Nostell MW DFC, Pontefract Pirates, Selby Disability Football Club and the South Yorkshire Superheroes (Barnsley) – across Yorkshire.

Like most organisations, we have been affected financially by the Coronavirus and we have incurred losses which we cannot recover. We have not been hit as badly as other organisations, but we do need raise £2000 to put us back at the level we were at in mid-March and enable us to make a difference to our players’ lives in the future, without having financial worries.

Any amount raised above £2000 will be put towards new projects (when the world returns to normal) designed to further benefit people with disabilities and learning difficulties.

Watch the video below to see highlights from our three years as an organisation. The video was produced for our players at the end of March to remind them of good memories from the last three years.

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