Brick by Brick: The professional game’s loss has been the grassroots gain when it comes to Wortley Brick manager James Taylor. Lee Sobot reports.
With Nicky Eaden and Mark Crossley among his class-mates, it’s little wonder Bramley’s James Taylor became a football fanatic.
But for a shattering ankle injury, he too might have made his name as a professional.
Yet the professional game’s loss has been the grassroots scene’s gain and the catalyst for 2014 new boys Wortley Brick FC.
Taylor, 41, has made a big impression on the parks football front since moving to Leeds from Oilend, a small village near Birdwell in Barnsley.
And after taking pub team Daisy up two divisions in the Leeds Combination League, the self-employed plumber is preparing to do it all over again.
Taylor – a former Frickley Athletic player who had trials for both Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley – began the story of pub team Daisy FC in 2009 with the club beginning life in Division Two of the Leeds Combination League. Four years later Daisy and Taylor were two divisions higher in the Combination Premier. The Daisy founder has since passed over the managerial baton to new boss Adam Prince but climbing the leagues gave quite a buzz to Taylor who now hopes to do build similar success at new club Wortley Brick FC.
Taylor explained: “At Daisy we got promoted twice and we got to two semi-finals of the Jubilee Cup in the space of four seasons. But it was just something that I think had run its course.
I just thought ‘I need a new challenge now as I have something established here and somebody will take this on’ which they did as I passed the reins over to Princey who is still in charge of them.
“I went to pastures new at Pudsey Juniors Old Boys who were also in the Premier but I wanted a new challenge and I wanted a new team for myself again. I heard about Wortley Brick and took it from there.
“Basically, a friend of mine called Wayne Johnson used to play for me at Daisy and the Wortley Brick pub is really just around the corner from where he lives. He goes drinking there and the landlord just said to him ‘I’d like a football team.’
“He just came up to me and we were looking for a place to play from and he just said ‘why not Brick?’ We just went from there.”
A matter of months later, Wortey Brick were embarking on their new challenge in the bottom tier of the Leeds Combination League – Division Three. After two victories and just the one loss, Brick sit sixth in the division.
Comparably, Taylor’s former club are three divisions and 32 league placings higher in the pecking order but Taylor hopes that gap can soon be narrowed.
“If we could get up there competing with Daisy I’d welcome it with open arms but it’s going to be hard and everyone knows that,” said Taylor, who schooled alongside Eaden and Crossley at Kirkbalk High School. “Hopefully we are going to constitute a good side this season but I’m not looking for promotion this season.
“I’m looking for us to gel as a team and to get to know each other – them getting to know me plus me getting to know them as well. Then we want to take that forward for next season and hopefully start climbing the leagues.
“There’s going to be a lot of hard work involved but this is what we set football teams up for. We are getting lads off the street and from five a side teams and giving them chance to go out and do it.
“There’s three or four players that used to play for Daisy for me a few years ago but 75 per cent of it is new players.
“There’s a few players that are young lads who have not been introduced to 11 a side open age before and they are doing well for me to be fair.
“But everybody’s local and I’ve always set out to achieve that.
“I played at a good level of football when I was younger and I’m just passing my knowledge and experience on to new kids and new players.
“I’m all about grass roots football and even when I played at a good level I think it’s important that there’s somebody there to help these lads along.”
Taylor says a key part in his grassroots success story is the flexibility of his job as a self-employed plumber.
And another secret weapon is girlfriend Deborah Cromack who shares secretarial duties with Steve Kelley.
Taylor’s other half is not a natural-born fan of the beautiful game but escaping it in a relationship Taylor is nigh on impossible.
“My missus can’t stand football but unfortunately she got involved with somebody who loves football,” laughed Taylor, whose side play their home games at Armley Park.
“She’s either with me or not with me so she ended up being with me!
“Deborah shares secretarial duties with Steve who used to play when he was a lot younger.
“He’s a big Liverpool fan who’s passionate for football. He’s always been into it and he’s been with me for a few seasons. He was with me at Daisy and now at Brick.”
As too was Johnson – who initially approached Taylor about taking over at Brick and now acts as the club’s assistant manager. And also key to the cause are Kevin Moran and his wife Cheryl – responsible for the Wortley Brick pub itself on Tong Road.
“The pub is our headquarters so we get changed there and go back there afterwards and the landlord Kevin and his wife Cheryl put the food on after every game,” said Taylor, a Leeds United fan despite his Barnsley roots.
“It’s a nice pub, only a small pub but it’s a footballing pub and a rugby pub so they love both sports.
“They had another football team many years ago but I’m not sure when that was. It was going back a few years but they had a successful team.”
And now they have another though with Taylor’s sporting passions limited to football the search for a Wortley Brick rugby team continues.
Taylor reasoned: “They haven’t got a rugby team but they’ve been trying to get one.
“It’s very hard to get a rugby side from a pub – very hard – and I’m just football.
“I wouldn’t know a thing about rugby – even though I’m built for rugby now!”