Leeds City gain from FA’s introverted approach

Tom Liddell.
Tom Liddell.
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Tom Liddell has been at the helm of Leeds City from the moment of their inception in 2006, but his time with the West Yorkshire Premier League stalwarts could be reaching its zenith.

The 32-year-old has been integral to the club’s development, and has always taken pride from the quality football he insists on his side playing.

Liddell believes that the quality of the West Yorkshire leagues has increased during his time at the level – and hopes that Leeds City’s influence could have contributed towards that.

But after nine years, over 600 games and an estimated win rate of over 70 per cent, the local lad is nearing the end of his time at the club, citing the overwhelming demands on his time as he considers starting family as the deciding factor.

“I always think about it, but as I’m getting older, maybe two or three seasons and then that’ll be me done,” he said.

“Once I have a kid I’d have no time to dedicate to running the team. I already find it a bit of a stretch now, and I think the grassroots are losing a lot of good people because of that.

“We haven’t had that West Yorkshire Premier League title, I’d like to win that, and if I did I could call it a day having won everything.

“And I’ll be done with football as well then which will be sad, but I’ll have given a good 20 years, so it’s fair enough isn’t it?”

If Leeds are to secure that elusive Premier League victory they’ll have to get past current leaders Beeston St Anthony’s, surprise package Carlton Athletic and champions Field, who beat Leeds to the title by nine points last season.

Liddell expressed his regret that the opportunity to test his coaching talents at a higher level never arose, and extensively criticised the systems the FA has in place for finding promising grassroots coaches.

He slammed the badge system as ‘poor’, described the professional game as ‘introverted’ and challenged the FA to engage more with grassroots clubs.

“The experience I’ve built, albeit at our level, is phenomenal. But it’ll go amiss,” he said.

“I’d have loved to have been a football manager for a living, but the route you have to go down, the sacrifices you have to take are just not worth it, for the slim chance that you might get that opportunity.

“There’s no interest in me in trying to reach that professional level anymore because you have to sacrifice so much to get there.

“It’s a timely, costly thing to do, the badges, and even when you get them, if there’s a job in the professional game, who’s going to get it?

“Tom Liddell isn’t going to get that opportunity because nobody knows who he is.

“They’d take a look at my CV, where I’ve done well at tier 11 of the football pyramid and they might say ‘well that’s Mickey Mouse football’.

“The thing is there isn’t a gulf of difference between League Two and our league, there isn’t a massive difference.

“It goes hand in hand, for players and coaches, it’s such a difficult sport to be involved with unless you’ve got elite experience. And I can’t ever see it changing.”

Despite his strong words, Liddell was coy on whether he’d back himself at a top pro club, saying he ‘imagined’ he could deal with the tactics, but possibly not the intense public scrutiny.

Whether he could have or not, the world will never know. But the professional game’s loss has undoubtedly been Leeds City’s gain.