IT is fair to say that few will have ever expected cries of ‘Rooney, Rooney’ to ring out at Nethermoor.
But proof of football’s sometimes wondrous capacity for the unexpected arrived on Tuesday night with Guiseley’s new signing with the famous name ingratiating himself with Lions supporters in the best way possible with a last-minute winner on his debut in the last-gasp 2-1 win over Sutton United.
It was, of course, John Rooney and not his famous sibling Wayne who was busy being feted, with the loan signing from Wrexham providing a match-winning contribution in the best traditions of his big brother.
Rooney’s strike helped extend Guiseley’s unbeaten league sequence on home soil to an excellent 10 matches, but just as important was the fact that the Lions moved up to the comparative giddy heights of 18th in the National League, their highest position of the season.
Seventh from bottom may not look a particularly eye-catching position on paper, but given the context of Guiseley’s disastrous start to the season, it represents a remarkable turnaround.
The Nethermoor outfit were stuck in the relegation places from August 9 to January 7, but their transformation has been dramatic under Adam Lockwood and Dave Penney, with home form – where Guiseley are unbeaten in the league since September 24 – providing the bedrock.
Despite only being in West Yorkshire for a brief time, Rooney, who has joined on loan for the rest of the season, believes that Guiseley can achieve their seasonal aims of survival, which looked a long shot back in the autumn.
More especially if they can chip away and pick up some points on their travels, with Lockwood’s visiting second-placed Dagenham and Redbridge tomorrow, while mindful that just six of their total of 32 points this campaign have arrived on the road.
On the task ahead for Guiseley, who have lost just twice in their past 11 league games, Rooney said: “I know the team is on good form, (but) we need to keep the run going, make it a tough place to come at home and hard to beat away.
“The main aim is to stay up and get enough points. There are a lot of good teams in this league, but I know in this dressing room we can match anyone.”
“Tuesday was a frustrating game, but to get the goal in the last minute for the team on my debut is a good moment for me and the team.
“The fans were on our side from the warm-up and the start of the game and they were behind us the whole game, we’ve been able to reward them and keep this run going.”
Admitting that his surprise move to Guiseley came out of the blue, the Scouser added: “I spoke to the manager on Sunday and it all got going quite quickly.
“I took everything as it came, the club then went to Wrexham to try and push it through for the international clearance and luckily we got it through on time.
“I left Wrexham after I’d been talking to them for a while. The manager was leaving me out because I got a new deal if I played, so now I am glad to have just moved on.”
FOLLOWING last week’s postponement at Buxton, Frickley Athletic will be anxious to get another three points on the board when they host Rushall Olympic tomorrow.
Athletic are currently two points from safety in the Premier Division but can leapfrog the team immediately above them – Corby Town – if they defeat Rushall and Corby los at sixth-placed Nantwich Town.
In the First Division North, second-placed Farsley Celtic travel to fifth-placed Clitheroe hoping to make more inroads into Lancaster City’s nine-point lead at the top. Celtic still have three games in hand on their Lancastrian rivals, who host Scarborough Athletic.
Third-placed Ossett Town could move into second place if Farsley fail to win and they triumph at Colne.
Ninth-placed Brighouse Town go into tomorrow’s home game with Burscough on the back foot after it was revealed this week that left wing-back Greg Pearson is to leave for Australia at the end of the month.
The Halifax-based 24-year-old was signed on October 1 from Frickley Athletic and has made a positive impression during his time at Town.
Elsewhere in the First Division North, Tadcaster Albion – fresh from their West Riding County Cup semi-final victory over Brighouse Town – make the long trip to play Colwyn Bay, while 17th-placed Ossett Albion host third-from-bottom Prescot Cables.
Liversedge will aim to sign-off February with back-to-back derby victories in the Premier Division.
Having seen recent home matches against AFC Mansfield and Retford United postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Sedge play their first game in a fortnight tomorrow when they make the relatively short trip to Garforth Town.
Seventh-placed Liversedge will be seeking a notable league double over their West Yorkshire rivals having defeated Garforth 6-0 at Clayborn back in October when leading marksman Joe Walton bagged a hat-trick.
Walton has already scored 25 goals this season and with Liversedge still having 11 matches to play, there is every chance he could top the 30 mark. Tomorrow’s trip to Garforth is followed by another derby when Sedge travel to fourth-placed Thackley for what should be a cracking game on February 25.
Elsewhere, with leaders Cleethorpes Town in FA Vase action, second-placed Pickering Town can move to within two points of the top with a victory at Clipstone.
After four of their last five games were postponed, Harrogate Railway will be hoping to get 90 minutes under their belts when they host basement side Barton Town Old Boys.
In Division One, leaders Pontefract Collieries face a difficult trip to fourth-placed Grimsby Borough and it’s also a tough-looking home assignment for second-placed AFC Emley who host third-placed Hall Road Rangers.
Seventh-placed Knaresborough Town play host to the team directly above them in the table – Hallam – knowing that victory would move them above their opponents and into the play-off zone.
Elsewhere, there is a West Yorkshire derby at Nostell Miners Welfare as Selby Town are the visitors while mid-table Yorkshire Amateur travel to Westella and Willerby.
In National League North, Simon Weaver’s Harrogate Town will be looking for another three points when they travel to rock-bottom Altrincham tomorrow.
Elsewhere, fifth-placed FC Halifax Town make the trip to lowly Worcester City and in-form Bradford Park Avenue could move out of the bottom three with a positive result at Nuneaton Town.