Graham Hodder’s main legacy as a Non League manager is that he gave a host of well-known players their first chance on the semi-professional stage.
The list is endless and for a man who has initially said no before taking many of his manager jobs, he’s one of the most successful Leeds-based Non League bosses of the past 15 years for promoting young and local talent.
Everyone’s definition of success is different, but Hodder achieved a lot with basically nothing, whilst also enjoying extreme levels of loyalty from a whole host of players who followed him to numerous clubs.
He became Yorkshire Amateur’s first team manager in 2006 and his three year stint in charge is a forgotten piece of genius.
Hodder only had 50p bottles of Lucozade to offer his players in the first campaign and he steered the club to safety in each season whilst introducing future stars, including Paddy Miller, Fernando Moke and Dempsey Smith, to the Non League game.
Even off-the-field he saved the Ammers from certain disaster. The harsh winter of 2009 was tough for a lot of clubs and the Ammers’ clubhouse roof collapsed. Hodder, a self-employed builder by trade, and business partner Paul Brookes repaired the damage to huge personal financial cost, without knowing if the insurers would pay out.
After Ammers, he had stints managing Selby Town and Glasshoughton Welfare and again he promoted young talent (captain marvel James Beaston and Calum Ward are in the later years hits parade). In recent years he has become a bit of a ‘Non League Neil Warnock’ having retired at least twice before being cajoled back into the dugout – at Sherburn White Rose and then Selby Town.
The desire to give youngsters a chance even extends to the coaching scene as Yorkshire Amateur joint manager Craig Ogilvie was given his first chance in the NCEL by Hodder.
Now, officially retired from the game, Hodder is extremely well-respected in local football circles and when he is not playing bowls he’s still seen out and about watching matches at Selby, Glasshoughton, Garforth Town and of course the Ammers.
This is Graham Hodder’s Non League Journey:
“I was a centre-midfielder when I played and I played for the Yorkshire Copper Works, Rothwell Town, Robin Hood, Carlton Athletic, Meanwood Working Mens in the West Yorkshire League and also Rawdon Old Boys in the West Riding County Amateur League. I was captain of nearly every team I played for. I was asked to go to the Ammers, but then it was the old Yorkshire League and the travelling put me off. I was more someone who wanted to play local.
“My first experience of managing was on a Sunday with a team called Woodbridge, but my first management on a Saturday was the Yorkshire Copper Works when I did the back end of one season and we won a cup. I then went onto Rothwell Town who had been struggling around the bottom of the league and had just avoided relegation. I took them on as player/manager and we got promoted so that went well. I was then offered the Swillington Working Mens job in the West Yorkshire League and I took it. This was around 1988 or 1989 and when my son Russell was born I packed in for 11 years. As he grew up I took him to play rugby for Oulton Mini Raiders!
“He started playing football for Kippax Welfare when he was about 11. He won all the player of the year trophies and there were some trials when he was 15 at Yorkshire Amateur. I’d said to him that he should have been playing somewhere like Ammers, Farsley if he wants to progress. I took him to the trials and there were 30 lads and he got in. They only took on three and he was one of them. I started watching them and they were in the bottom four and the season was past the halfway point when the manager came up to me and said ‘they won’t listen to me, they’re not doing anything’. I said no to start with. It is a bit of a recurring theme! My first words were ‘no, I’ve come here to watch my son play, not manage’. They came back to me three weeks later and said ‘if you don’t take over the club will fold’. So I took over and they sent me on my Level One course and to be fair the team picked up.
“The following season we were under 17s and we won the League, beating teams like Farsley. The year after we were obviously under 18s and that year we came second in the league and we won the Leeds & District Cup. We were the first Ammers side to win that for about 12 years. We also won the League Cup.”
Hodder’s Under 18s ‘Arch Nemesis’ Phil Harding
“Later on I brought him in as the Ammers reserve team manager, but a few years before that, (future Yorkshire Amateur manager Phil Harding) Skinny was the Chapeltown Brazil manager (and main rival) and he once turned up at my house. He doesn’t drive so someone was driving him and there was about three or four lads in the car. There was a knock at the door and it was Skinny and I asked him what was up? He said ‘I’ve got some forms, I want to sign your goalkeeper (Evans Asante), he’s sat in the car if you want to check with him’. It sounded like a hostage situation! I went out and he’s sat in the car. Skinny was waving the forms and he said to me ‘come on Graham, don’t cry, don’t cry’! Anyway, I signed the form and waved them bye, bye! That gave me a problem as I needed a goalkeeper urgently and that led me to signing Ben Hunter who had been playing for Wakefield City the previous season.
“We got our own back on Phil at the end of the season as we beat them in the League Cup Final at Altofts. I remember going to my car to get the Leeds & District Cup we had won a week earlier after beating Farsley Celtic out of the boot. When I saw the Chapeltown bus arrive I held back and waited until they started getting off it. I then took the cup out and started walking past them. Phil looked at me and said ‘what are you doing with that’? I said ‘I’m going to put it with the League Cup after we have beaten you today and we’ve going to have our photos taken with both cups’. They all started going ‘you what, you what’. Anyway that’s what did as we beat them!
“About two weeks later, Phil said to me that he had a video of the game. I said ‘you’ll have to let me see it’ and he said ‘you don’t want to see it, its rubbish, its the worst game I’ve ever seen’. To this day he’s never shown me it!”
Ammers Under 19s manager
“Because the lads were 18 I asked the committee at Ammers if I could form an under 19s side? They said ‘well we haven’t got any money’. I said I’d sort the money part of it out by doing a programme and getting sponsors in. We did that and we actually made money with the under 19s. The team was also bringing in a lot of players for the first team or the opportunity was there to bring them in.
“I then started doing the Ammers reserve team alongside the under 19s. I was using the under 19s in the reserve team and that year (2006/07) we (reserves) actually played 24, won 22, drew 2, lost 0. There were four games remaining when I got the call to say the Ammers first team manager Pete Cusic had left, the money had run out and all the players had gone. They asked me if I would manage the team for the last few games. I said ‘bloody hell, there’s four games left’ because I wanted to finish the job with the reserves of going unbeaten. But I said yes to running the first team, but I did it without my second team players. So we did the last four games of the NCEL season and made sure we fulfilled our fixtures and the reserves finished unbeaten so it was happy days. They then asked me to run the first team for the following year.”
Yorkshire Amateur first team manager (summer 2007)
“After I said I would take it on permanently I went for a meeting with the committee and they turned round and said ‘unfortunately we are £24,000 in debt and the brewery are demanding payment by instalments’. They were all sat there with long faces and the decision was; is the club going to pack in? It was the chance of my first management job in the NCEL and I was thinking ‘no, let’s go for it’. But they said the club was too far in debt and that I didn’t know the league and they was loads and loads of travelling and no money. I then said ‘we’ll do it with no money’. So we did.
“I did it for three years and at the end of the third year, I admit we didn’t win anything, but what we did achieve is that we never got relegated. We never finished bottom and we were making slow and steady progress. We paid the players with bottles of Lucozade in the first season! The bottles cost the club 50p each. But then in the second season we could actually give them £5 if they drew and £10 if they won. They got nothing for a loss. I think some at Ammers because of the money preferred it if we got beat! By the end of the third year we had actually cleared the debt. We were totally debt free so we must have made £8,000-a-year profit. That was a success in itself.”
“Paddy Miller, Dempsey Smith, Fernando Moke, Mikey Nelson, Craig Maynard, Danny Maw, Nathan Thomas and Roy Fogarty are just some of the players who I gave debuts to at the Ammers and who have all gone on to have very good Non League careers. We can’t talk about everyone as we would be still talking next week, but Nathan Thomas was an interesting one. He’s Jenni French’s son and he was with me in the under 17s and he went to Sheffield United’s academy and then he went to play for Ferencvaros in Hungary.
“Out of all the players I managed, Paddy is probably the one who’s had the best career. Dempsey Smith was a great player and a great striker, but he got a lot of injuries. If it hadn’t been for injuries, I think we could have seen him go professional. Ferdy has also had a good career. His first game with us when went to Eccleshill and won 6-1 away. Ferdy was a young lad and he didn’t get on. Everyone was really happy in the dressing room and I said to him ‘don’t worry that you didn’t get on, it is because you’re starting Tuesday’. Honestly his face lit up and he was outstanding on the Tuesday. I don’t think he ever benched again!”
“From a coaching point of view, when I was taking my FA Level 2 I had to do so many sessions to a pass. So I went in with the Yorkshire Amateur under 12s and Andre Wisdom was playing for them. I told them what they were going to do and the manager had told me everyone’s position. They told me Andre was a centre-forward so I put him in this position for what we were doing. After 20 minutes I thought ‘he’s a better defender this kid’ so I said to him ‘look, you’re not really a centre-forward’. ‘I am’, he said, ‘I score lots of goals’. I said ‘you only score goals because you’re bigger than everyone else, play in these sessions I’m doing as a defender’. When it came to the Sunday match I asked his manager to pick him as a defender and he did. He was outstanding and about six weeks later he was taken by Bradford City and after that he went to Liverpool for under a million pounds. It was a massive fee. He’s been on loan at Norwich and now he’s with Derby. I actually watched him play in a game against Chelsea and he was marking Diego Costa. It was one of those moments when you look and remember those old days of him playing for the Ammers on Gledhow Sports Ground and you think ‘that kid thought he was a centre-forward and I told him he was a defender and he’s now marking Diego Costa’!”
“Paddy was obviously a top player. I always played him in centre-midfield because I wanted my best players on the ball. If you have a lad who is a left-winger and the ball never goes out on the left-wing, it is going to be a nightmare. He was a wide left player and he was a full back, but because he was that good I liked him in centre midfield. He was outstanding. He had an engine and everything you need for a centre-midfielder.
“This day at Teversal I think we were losing 2-1 and I subbed him. As he came past, he kicked the water bottles and everything splatted everywhere. I looked round and said ‘what’s going on’? He was just fuming. That night he text me and said ‘sorry about that’. I replied ‘listen, don’t worry about that, you did that because you have got passion, commitment and heart and that’s what I want in a player so see you Tuesday’.
“That passion, commitment and heart got him all the success he had. I still laugh about them water bottles with him now! Every-time I see him I move my drink out of the way!
“When I was a kid I watched Eddie Gray when he made his debut for Leeds and I held him in high esteem so when he had his testimonial I watched his last game at Elland Road. So I saw Paddy’s first game for me at Ammers in the NCEL and when I knew he was playing his last game before retiring at Tadcaster I went out and watched that. So he’s in that category.”
Pete Ryder’s Demolition Work
“My first (first team) assistant was Pete Ryder. He was great and he was a fitness man. He was all ‘got them working, get them working’. The lads loved him, they really did. We were away at Rossington Main and we were losing 1-0 at half-time. I had the board out outlining positions and I could see Pete pacing up and down as I was talking. Anyway when I finished I said to Pete ‘have you got anything to say’? He said ‘right’ and walked over to the door and kicked it. He was doing it for effect to make everyone jump. He kicked the door and his foot went through it. The next thing he was doing was dancing about on the floor on one leg because he couldn’t get his foot out. All the lads were in stitches. The whole team-talk went out of the window. But that was Pete! I still remind him when he comes for a pint!”
The Other Assistants
“Dave Holmes was a very good coach and he ran some really good sessions. I really liked him. Gary Strodder was good when he came in and I also had John Dean and John Ward.
“Wardy could get players. He was the manager of Leeds Lions and when I was doing the Ammers Juniors and Seniors I wanted Ammers juniors coming through into the first team. But you didn’t always get a good batch. The under 16s were winning everything and then the under 15s and under 14s weren’t successful which means you may have a three-year wait for players from the Juniors. So I started looking round and that’s why I brought Pete Ryder in because he was the manager of St Nick’s who were under 18s and winning everything in the Leeds & District at the time. He brought in players like Jaymie Hainsworth and Paul Graham.
“When Pete finished, I went on the Internet and saw that Leeds Lions had won the cup at Elland Road, the County Cup and they were their league champions. They were Seacroft (close to Ammers) based so I got hold of their manager Wardy. I was doing the 19s at the time and I said ‘can you come in and be under 19s manager and bring all your lads down and we’ll merge our best under 19s with you’ and he did. When you’ve got no money to pay, where are you going to find your players? You really have to work hard to source them and making sure there is progression within your club is one way.”
“We played Pontefract and someone put our striker Si Kirsima through. He round the goalkeeper and the ball nearly went out. He started dribbling it towards the goal to tap it in. The pitch was a bumpy and he ended up running face first into the goal-post. He knocked two teeth out and broke one. You heard the bang when he hit the post. He had to go for medical treatment and Bill Ellis the chairman said we were alright with the insurance and that we’d just have an excess to pay. The bill was £200 and Si said ‘don’t worry I’ll pay it myself because I know the club is skint’. That shows that we were all it in together back then.”
Goole AFC (2008/09)
“The biggest stand-out game is when we played Goole in the West Riding County Cup at Bracken Edge. We were playing on the Wednesday night, but in the Yorkshire Evening Post Goole’s chairman Des O’Hearne had said ‘this is a cup we should be winning every year’. I cut the article out of the paper and put it on the table and said to the lads ‘look at this lads, this lot should be winning it every year, what’s all this about, they’re coming here on your ground…’ So game on. They were obviously NPL at the time and a lot higher, but we came out of the traps and Nathan Thomas had a great game. But he had three one-on-ones in the first half, but he missed all three which is very unlike him. Normally he was clinical. You stand in the dugout and think ‘we’ve missed our chance now, they’ll get better’.
“Nathan Thomas did put us ahead, but Goole scored late-on to take it to extra-time. I sent this sub (Michael Ranson) on from the Ammers second team and I said to him ‘when I was the second team manager, I saw what you can do on the edge of the box, you can ping them into the top bin. Do exactly what you do with the reserves’ and he did. He made it 2-1. Nicky Darker then equalised for Goole, but we won 3-2 as Dempsey Smith scored in the last minute of extra-time.”
‘Famous Face Repairs Goal’
“We were playing Scarborough and Chris Ndukuba did this shot and it knocked a bolt out of the triangle thing at the back of the goal. The referee then said ‘come and fix this’ even though it wasn’t going to hurt anyone. Nobody could reach it so I ran on with the aluminium steps and it was the goal next to the main stand. The stand was full and there must have been 250 Scarborough fans in the ground. They obviously were all cheering when I ran on. I was faffing about and eventually I taped it. I started running off with the steps and all the Scarborough fans stood up and started singing ‘one Leslie Nielson, one Leslie Nielson’. Obviously they thought I looked like the actor off Airplane and The Naked Gun. I thought ‘great, smashing’.
“I then sent a young lad called Lewis Hindley on later. He was only 16 or 17 and he was feisty and I said to him ‘don’t get involved with the crowd and watch your tackling’. He went on and right in front of the stand he went through this Scarborough lad. Foul, everyone was up in arms. The Scarborough fans could see how young he was and they started singing ‘school in the morning, you’ll be at school in the morning’. When it subsided he turned and shouted ‘and you lot will be in your fishing boats’. I thought ‘I tell him not to get involved with the crowd and now he’s got 250 on his case’!”
Almost Out-Witting Future Brighton manager Graham Potter
Another highlight was getting a call from Mark Brier the Brighouse manager. For Brighouse to have a chance of promotion, we had to at least draw away at Leeds Carnegie (managed by Graham Potter). We drew 2-2 and we got the thank you call. We had one player sent off and we missed a penalty so it was a fantastic result.”
Odd Job Man and Club’s Saviour during the Winter of 2009
“I used to change all the bulbs in the floodlights. There was a machine and you had to put this jack in and winch the floodlights down. God, it was scary when these great big floodlights were creaking and dropping down. You thought they were going to smash into bits. You got them onto the ground and then changed the bulbs. But I ended up doing it because they didn’t have anyone else. I’d get there early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and change them for the Tuesday night game if a bulb or two were out.
“So I was doing the bulbs and then we had that really bad winter (2009) when everything was frozen solid. It was around Christmas so nobody had been to the club and there then must have been the thaw and Jenni French who was the secretary had gone to open up for whatever reason. As she opened up, water came gushing out of the clubhouse. The clubhouse was under about nine inch of water and it was a scene of devastation. All the ceilings had come down, the doors were ruined, everything was ruined because the water had been in there so long. Everything had to be thrown into a skip. Everything needed re-wiring, re-plumbing. Everything needed doing and it was an unbelievably big job.
“It was going to be difficult money-wise because everything was damaged. The insurance people wouldn’t come out because there were that many cases so the club said to me ‘can you do it and when the insurance guys come out, hopefully he’ll pay you’. I said yes and it cost over £20,000. We did that without knowing if we were going to get repaid. When the insurance man came out, he said ‘this is great, you’ve done full re-wiring and re-plumbing jobs for prices we have been paying out for just basic repairs’ so he paid out without a problem. But doing the work saved the club. Jenni said ‘I’m going to put a plaque on the wall for Hodder & Brookes Builders’ because I can’t think of any other builder who would have come into a football club and done over £20,000 of work without knowing if they were getting to get paid’. It shows what I was willing to do for the club at the time.”
Stepping Down as Ammers manager (April 2010)
“I packed in after the last game of the (2009/10) season at Tadcaster. Halton Moor were playing Chapeltown Brazil at Elland Road in the Sunday Cup final and loads my players were playing in it. Because of that they didn’t want to risk playing in the last couple of games for us. So there was a midweek game at Worsbrough and that last game at Taddy. Had we won both games, another six points would have put us in the top ten. I was devastated. I understood why they didn’t want to play, but there was about seven players who didn’t want to miss the big thing at Elland Road.
“Three of the committee were leaning on the barrier at Taddy and I ducked under it and said to them ‘this is my last game today, I’m not coming back’. They tried to talk me out of it and in the end I agreed to be the director of football which I think was their way of keeping me there for a little bit.”
Appointment of Paul Lines as Ammers manager (May 2010)
“We were looking for a new first team manager and there were people from Bradford and various other places for the job. I knew Paul Lines and I said ‘I want to bring Paul Lines in’. The committee said there were other managers in for it, but I said ‘look, Paul Lines will be the one who can sort it out and as director of football that’s my opinion’.
“So we brought Paul in and when I did my final player of the year presentation night, I split it into two. I did all the presentations and then the second part was ‘meet the new management team’. Paul and his assistant Steve Milner were there and everyone could ask questions.
“Because I was staying with the club, all my players were staying which was fantastic. That meant Paul did not have a full rebuilding job. The lads who he brought in were quality and that lifted it. Paul did an outstanding job and we finished third, missing out on promotion by two points.”
Leaving Ammers (End of 2010/11 season)
“The committee had agreed a £20 a man win bonus and in December (2010) the money had run out and I was asked (as director of football) to announce this to the players at training. I told the lads I had the ‘ultimate respect for them and I would shake hands with anyone who was going to leave’, but I also said ‘I hope you all stay because I think we can do really well this season’. Justin Bowler walked out of the line of players and said ‘I don’t need no twenty quid, I’m staying’. After that, all the players remained at the club. In the February the money was put back on, but it was a member of the committee who gave the players the good news. At that point I thought I was only there to deliver bad news and decided to leave at the end of that season, whatever happened.
“It is now great to see the Ammers doing so well. They now have a decent budget and good work is being done with the five-a-side area and changing rooms. Only Ferdy and Roy Fogarty are still at the club who were there with me, but it’s great to see the club are finally getting the success and rewards it deserves.”
Barkston Ash FA Representative Side (2011-13)
“It had been 21 years since they last won the West Riding County Minor Cup and we won it (in 2013). We were beating teams like Leeds FA and Bradford FA. We beat Leeds 4-0 at Bracken Edge and Bradford 6-1 at Selby Town. That year we scored 24 and only conceded one – I was devastated with that goal.
“Adam Shaw, who went onto play for the Ammers and Eccleshill, played in my first game in charge. But because that was an end of season fixture, he was too old to play for us during the following season when we won the cup. We had a few lads who have gone on to play Non League playing for us in the Barkston Ash team – Josh Morley (Glasshoughton), Billy Lumsden, Mathew Marshall (Garforth Town), Tom Hick (Yorkshire Amateur), Jackson Walker (Glasshoughton), Mitch Hamilton.”
Selby Town (December 2011-May 2012)
“I’d seen that Dave Heard had packed in and I said to John Gardiner, who was the manager of the Leeds FA team and had a few young players, if he would be interested in going (to Selby). We applied and we rung (secretary) Tommy Arkley. We arranged a meeting and there was (chairman) Ralph (Pearse), Tommy and a lad called Simon and I think they would have taken anybody at the time because they just needed someone to get them a team together as they were quite some points adrift at the bottom of the table.
“We asked Ralph and Tommy to ring all the players and get them there for a meeting and only three turned up. So basically there were no players left at all. I looked at John and thought ‘right, Selby is 15 to 20 mile outside of the catchment area for all our players and there’s no money’. Added to being rooted to the bottom of the table I was thinking ‘who’s going to come’? Again, it was ridiculously hard.
“By the end of the season I think the biggest defeat we had was a 6-0 defeat at Brighouse. The best win we had was when Winterton could have gone into the top two and we beat them at Selby. It was a great win and I remember walking into the clubhouse and everybody started clapping.
“Selby Town is an absolutely fantastic club. It is a proper football club with lots of fans. Christian (Fox) is winning games now and they are getting over 300 people watching. With the support they have got they could easily get to the Northern Premier League. It is such a big club and a well-run club. Ralph is up there as your top chairman. He’s brilliant.
“The passion from everybody at Selby is unbelievable. At the first away game (Lincoln Moorlands Railway) I took charge of, I went back into the car park to get a pen and this car pulled up and four people got out with Selby Town shirts on. I thought ‘Jesus, they’re travelling sixty miles to watch Selby’. That puts pressure on you. I was used to Yorkshire Amateur and there been three men and a dog watching us away from home. That’s no disrespect to the Ammers back then, but that’s how it was.
“We gave debuts to Nick Black, Ciaran Gibson, Calum Ward and I also brought Jaymie Hainsworth, Liam Tuck and Freddie Swales in. Calum is a stand-out one and I signed him from Pickering’s under 18s. I saw him play and I said to him ‘you’ll get game-time with me’ and he did. Even then at that age he stood out. Ciaran is a very good goalkeeper and he’s gone onto play at a decent level. He was also the Northern Ireland under 19s goalkeeper. It is just a shame he can’t play at the moment as he’s working at a management level at a supermarket in Liverpool.
“I decided to leave (Selby) at the end of the season and I feel I did a good job. I’d have needed to be Harry Houdini to get them out of the position they were in. The only aim was making sure the club fulfilled its fixtures which we did.”
Glasshoughton Welfare (June 2012 to November 2012)
“I’d brought Liam Tuck in on the playing side at Selby and he knew players. I’d also brought Nick Peacock in on the coaching side and he was very good. So when I saw the Glasshoughton job advertised, I asked them if they fancied going for it. We applied it and got it.
“Glasshoughton had just got promoted under Craig Elliott, but it was a difficult job. Most of his players had decided to leave for various reasons so it was a major rebuilding job with limited resources.
“We signed James Beaston and gave him his first chance in Non League football. He’d been at Sherburn White Rose before. He actually scored a first half hat-trick in a win over Armthorpe. Freddie Swales also followed us from Selby and went on to be player of the year.”
“I’d had Craig as a player in the Ammers under 17s and 18s and I alway prided myself on not having people booked or sent off. We were in the FA Youth Cup and we were playing a team from Liverpool. Anyway, he was the last defender in this situation and he pulled this lad down and got a red card. So he goes down as my one and only red card in Amateur Football! He did right mind as we won the game 1-0.
“But I saw big potential in him as a coach very early. He was taking his first badges years ago and I brought him into Barkston Ash to do some coaching – along with Ben Hunter as goalkeeping coach – to give them experience. When I got the Glasshoughton job I took Craig down there as first team coach. I’m so pleased to see him joint managing the Ammers now and he’s done really well.”
“The biggest highlight at Glasshoughton was beating Worksop Parramore away in the FA Vase. We beat them 2-1 and it was a tremendous performance. We then played Maine Road away in the next round and had two sent off in the first 20 minutes. Liam Radford and Darrell Young, our two strikers, were the players.”
Tommy Taylor’s ‘Greatest Moment’ (September 2012)
“We were beating Brighouse 1-0 going into the fourth minute of added time. It would have been a tremendous result. But then Brighouse goalkeeper Tom Taylor came racing out of goal for the last corner. He thundered in a great header and I was gutted to have lost two points with the last kick of the game. To add insult to injury I had been trying to get him to sign for us in pre season.”
Results and Losing Marcus Edwards
“We lost the first game of the season at Eccleshill in the FA Cup, but we started alright and when we signed Marcus Edwards around late September we never got beat with him in the side. We had somebody who knew where the net was. In one game he scored five and he said to me ‘can I have a £10 goal bonus’! In hindsight I should have given him it as he left to go back to Eccleshill. It was fair enough as it was his local team, but I do think if we’d had more money we’d have kept him.
“Results deteriorated after we lost Radders (to Ossett Town) and Marcus, but that’s hardly surprising after you have lost your two main strikers because they are almost impossible to replace. I decided after we lost at Nostell after Marcus had left that I was packing in. I don’t remember why, but I took charge for another month or so and I left after we lost at Pickering (at the end of November).”
Agent Hodder gets Ben Hunter his move to Garforth (2014)
“I’d got introduced to (then-Garforth manager) Graham Nicholas after one of the first games of that (2013/14) season and he had taken my number. I wasn’t managing at the time, I was just watching games. Out of the blue later in that season, around February, I got this text from Graham saying ‘need a ‘keeper urgently, do you know anyone’? I recommended Ben and he played for Garforth for some time.
“There’s another funny story involving Ben from when I was on a Level Three coaching course. There was going to be goalkeeper session and the day before I was asked if I knew a goalkeeper who would come and be part of the session. Ben came and during one part he had to collect the ball unopposed from a cross. A striker was then brought in and Stuart Waddington, who later managed Glassy, knocked him into the back of the net. As he was getting up, Stuart said to him ‘are you alright cock’? Ben said yes and with a wry smile, Stuart said ‘right then, dust yourself down, there’s another half-a-dozen coming’.”
Sherburn White Rose (2015/16)
“I turned Sherburn down initially about three times! They asked me if I would go there as director of football. I asked them for a description of the role and they said they wanted a link between the senior teams and juniors. They also said they wanted to make the NCEL and said I knew all what was needed to do that. That’s when I agreed.
“Just before the season started, the first team had played three friendlies and lost them all by six or seven goals. The manager (Ben Bradley) said he was packing in and asked if I’d take over. I said to Neil McClure who had been the assistant if he fancied doing it with me as joint manager. So me, Neil did it as joint managers with Dave Green helping us. The chairman said to me ‘we have just got promoted to Division One (of the West Yorkshire League) from Division Two, can you keep us in that Division’? I said ‘I’ll try, but they’ll be no promises’. We finished up getting promoted into the Premier and I packed in because I’d broke my promise that I’d keep them in that Division!”
Brief Return to Selby Town (September 2016)
“I’d retired again and about a month into the new (2016/17) season I got a call from Nige Emery, the manager of Selby. He needed some help as Mike Carmody had left (to manage Armthorpe) along with Reuben (Pearse) and he asked me about going back as Selby. I had a think about it for about a week because I had holidays booked and I didn’t want to get tied up. I think they were only just above the bottom four. After a think I said yes and I went back to Selby as joint manager with Nige.
“I brought lads in like Craig Tonkinson, Ollie Maude, John Douglas, Craig Maynard, Jaymie Hainsworth over a period of time and we went on a nine game unbeaten run. Scott Jones, a centre-forward, signed and he scored two goals on his debut at Worsbrough. He’d never played on a Saturday before and I watched him play for Seacroft against Leeds City and he was a stand-out signing.
“I finished (left) in the January (2017). I had been on holiday and I had another coming up and I just felt it wasn’t fair to anyone because they wouldn’t know where they were with me. I let Nige know and that’s when I officially retired!”
“People will have seen me out and about at matches, but in the last year or so I have got into Crown Green Bowling. I got into it because I needed more exercise. I’d retired from working and I was walking for a paper each morning and I was going different ways each day, looking at gardens and I thought there must be more to life than this. Someone said ‘why don’t you join the bowling club as you can walk up and down, walk up and down and have a bit of competition’. I went down and really enjoyed it. I play for the league team. The team is called Valley Ridge (in Kippax), but I’ve been asked to play for a few more teams who we have played. Bowls teams seem to be worse than football clubs for poaching!”
“I wish I’d had go at managing with money, but what I will say is managing without any money is obviously very hard. All these teams in the NCEL who send a side out 40 or 50 mile away from home and they have a bench full of subs; if they are giving them £30 or £40, great. I had to send all my lads out and give them nothing and it is a real testament to commitment of the lads and obviously my management style. I never went anywhere without the maximum amount of subs and a full team and that’s because of how I treated players. I believe if you are loyal to your players they will be loyal to you and I think they were (to me).”
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.
We have enjoyed great success over the past three years. Several of our players have represented Mencap GB in Geneva, including Billy Hobson from Selby and Greg Smith, whose story is quite inspiring.
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 by, 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.