Paddy McGuire expects Thackley to enjoy an exciting future when Non League Football returns because of the work going on behind the scenes.
The former Bradford City midfielder has been Thackley’s manager for two years, but having initially joined as a player in 2015, he has seen the club go from the brink of closure to be in a very stable position.
The 2016/17 saw Chris Reape’s team perform miracles in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division, whilst in the background, a battle was raging for the club’s very survival.
The troubles are now behind them and McGuire admits Thackley have come a long way.
“The best way I can put it (the state of the club is now compared to five years ago) is by looking at the position the Covid situation has put clubs in and clubs having to do JustGiving pages for their own survival,” McGuire told Non League Yorkshire.
“The fact we haven’t had to do that and that we are in a stable position is a credit to everyone I involved at the club like the committee and the new chairman Ben Oliver and all the players who are basically playing for free.
“Four years ago the club was very close to folding as there was a lot of money owed and there is a lot of people to thank for getting out of the mess we were in.
“For three or four years we didn’t get paid anything. I wanted to something good for the club and all the lads were on board with it. We had high calibre players like Joe Brown, Craig Bentham, Dan Broadbent who all played league football.
“The fact they were willing to play for nothing says a lot about them and what they thought the potential of the club was.
“You go from then to now, it is a massive difference (in the club) and it may not appear that way in finishing positions in the league. But when people realise how little we pay, it is amazing. They get a small win bonus so if they don’t win, they don’t get paid.
“We are the lowest payers by a country mile and looking at the squad we have got on paper compared to the budget, it is a credit to everyone at the club.
“As a whole unit we have stabilised the football club and we have no financial worries and we are looking at moving the club forwards.
“We are looking at developing the ground, the clubhouse, developing what we can offer the community and it is an exciting place to be at the minute and anyone who comes down to Thackley can sense that.”
The first team is just one part of the club’s blueprint for the future as a large aspect is about involving the community.
“We are in the middle of Bradford and there is so many clubs around us and a big thing I say when talking to the chairman is ‘what are we offering which is different and sets us apart from the other clubs nearby’,” he said.
“Below us you have Campion at the top of their league. Then there’s Eccleshill next door and above us you have Guiseley and Bradford (Park Avenue) and Farsley close by. Then to top it off you have Bradford City.
“They are all good clubs so we have do something a bit different. When we first took over we identified that you can try and play a brand of football that people want to watch.
“We want to get through people threw the door and we were prepared that we may suffer for it (brand of football) with results early on. But we’re getting better as time goes on and we’re not in a position where we have been told to win the league this year or you’re gone.
“Everyone has a realistic outlook about what we’re trying to do and we’re also currently renovating the clubhouse.
“We have plans for some 3G pitches which are ready to go, we’re just for a lease to run out.
“We have good links with the community. We worked with Andy’s Man Club last year and we raised over £10,000 for them and this year we are naming Dennyfield the ‘Thank You Key Workers’ stadium as we’re trying to promote charitable work and community based work.
“The ground is becoming a bit of a business hub and we’re going to host networking meetings which might bring in more sponsorship.
“It is about making people aware of Thackley and getting people down to the ground because no-one goes away from here with a bad word to say.
“Fingers crossed the footfall increases dramatically over the next few years and if we can get it right on the pitch more often than not to go hand-in-hand with the good work off-the-pitch, there’s a bright future ahead.”
McGuire’s second ‘full season’ at the helm of Thackley saw them finish ‘14th’ when the NCEL campaign ended abruptly.
The Dennyfield outfit were well-placed to reach the top ten and McGuire has mixed feelings about how the season unfolded.
“It is a strange one because we had a bit of slump before the break, but after that we had nine home games left to play,” he said.
“I would have been very disappointed if hadn’t finished comfortably in the top half. But then again anything could have happened.
“We had a great run at the start of the season and it was the story of the season that when we had a good run, we then went on a bad run, then on a good run, then on a bad run.
“We had a great week where we drew away at Staveley and then went and beat Ossett United in the West Riding Cup quarter-finals and then beat Hemsworth at home. Things were looking up again, but then we went to Bottesford and got beat and then got beat at Knaresborough.
“We were waiting for that consistency to hit, but there were a lot of positives. We were meant to be in the County Cup semi-finals against Farsley and you’re always looking for progression and I would like to think we’d have finished in the top half.”
Since the closure of the season, McGuire claims he has not spent too much time on the recruitment as he intends to keep hold of his existing group of players, apart from the two who have progressed to higher climbs.
“It is more about looking after what we have got,” he said.
“We have a very strong squad and a big squad for this level of football. We have 26 players and a low budget so keeping hold of players is number one.
“We have already lost a couple as both Sean Hunter and Albert Ibrahimi have moved on, but they go with our best wishes as they’ve gone to a higher league which is what we want.
“With the resources we have we are more looking at building the club’s infrastructure and developing players and pathways for those players which have seen with the likes of Jack Boyle going to Brighouse last year. Asa Mitchell has had trials with Rotherham.
“We are getting a reputation as a club who will give young players the opportunity and will develop them and push them onto better things.
“Players speak to each other and we have a lot of players wanting to come to the club because they know we do things right and we play an enjoyable brand of football.
“I have all kinds of players approaching me. I had someone who is 40-year-old wanting to come down. He’s had a very good Non League career. My inbox is inundated with messages from people wanting to come down and it is difficult because we have a big squad as it is.
“A lot of the time I have to turn people down. Myself and (assistant manager) Joe Brown have played a lot of football from League One and we have come across a lot of players and if we don’t feel people will improve the group then there’s point them wasting our time and us wasting their time. We are very loyal and supportive to the group we have got.
“We have a great team spirit and if you look at our squad over the last couple of years, we have a low turnover which is great because it shows stability at the club and it shows that the lads are enjoying it.
“The fact we have lads who have played a high calibre of football, the likes of Adam Muller and you Dan Broadbent’s, and are doing it for next to nothing shows they are enjoying the environment and culture we have got.”
Pre-season is also off the agenda at the moment for McGuire as he does not see the benefits while ever there is no start date for the 2020/21 season.
“The guidance says you can train with groups of six with one coach, but we have decided to not take that up at the minute as while there is no start date evident, we could be training for months doing that,” he said.
“I’ve spoken at length with our chairman and while we are all chomping at the bit to get back, we wouldn’t have started pre-season until the 20th June anyway. Going back now, I don’t see much point for us.
“It is each to their own and I know some clubs are training and trying to get that head-start. Our lads are keeping fit on their own and what I don’t want to do is get them training in their small groups and then find out the season is three months away.
“The novelty of what you can do will wear off in two or three weeks and you’ll be back to square one.
“When our lads come back I want them chomping at the bit ready to go, but we’ll do it when we can do it properly and with a start date in mind.”
If you have enjoyed this interview, 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.
There is a video at the bottom of the page showing our work.
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 once again to our players’ lives in the future, without having financial worries. As each day goes on, a substantial number of our players become further isolated so we need to be ‘ready for action’ when restrictions are lifted.
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. You can learn more about the organisation HERE and on our Facebook page.
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.