Team of the Week: Rocking Horse are alive and kicking

Rocking Horse FC
Rocking Horse FC
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Young managers seem to be somewhat in vogue at the moment.

This year, Gary Monk and Eddie Howe have taken the Premier League by storm as youthful thirtysomethings in charge of stars often older and more experienced than themselves. However, in comparison to one enterprising young coach in Wakefield, the top-flight duo are old timers.

At only 20 years of age, Sheridann Dickerson has taken it upon himself to reform Rocking Horse FC, a pub team based in Eastmoor which folded over a decade ago when the pub had to close down. As if that wasn’t a big enough challenge, Dickerson also manages the side, as well as being part of the coaching set up at Hall Green United.

Monk and Howe suddenly look to have it easy.

The Rocking Horse pub was previously home to one of the most successful Sunday League clubs.

Their previous incarnation, which is now King George FC, has completed a clean sweep of Wakefield and District Sunday League trophies in each of the past three

seasons. Moreover, they have also enjoyed strong runs in the FA Sunday Cup, reaching the semi-final two years ago, to cement their place as one of the strongest amateur sides in the country.

Under their original moniker, the team also won a host of honours, including a Division One title, two league cups and the Landlords Trophy.

The task now facing Dickerson is to restore Rocking Horse to its past glories.

“The original team was formed in 1983 by Ken Deane and Mick Maulkinson,” says Dickerson. “They both raised the money for the initial start-up costs together, and their aim was to use the football team as a social thing for the friends and local people of the Eastmoor estate.

“The original Rocking Horse FC was one of the most successful Sunday league teams around the Wakefield district, winning the league cup in the club’s very first season, and then went on to be very successful over the next decade.

“A lot of uncertainty surrounded the pub, due to various changes in management and threat of

closure, and Rocking Horse FC then folded and became King George FC.”

Having almost singlehandedly raised all the start-up costs himself, through organising events such as family fun days, Dickerson, who works at the pub, has now formed a squad of players from around the Eastmoor estate, many of whom he did not know previously.

Not only is the team completely fresh, but the recently reopened pub, which is obviously the club’s social headquarters, has also been refurbished.

In their inaugural campaign Rocking Horse are competing in the Championship Two division of the Wakefield and District Sunday League, three tiers below King George, and will play their home matches at the Wakefield City Academy playing fields.

An extremely young bunch of players for Sunday league, combined with sprinkling of experience which includes Dickerson’s dad Phil, are still gelling as a group.

Their inexperience showed in their opening match of the season, a 5-0 defeat to Hemsworth Highfield Reserves, but Dickerson is refusing to be downbeat about the club, and is keen to preach the attractive style of football which Monk and Howe have become renowned for.

“The team is mainly young lads, all in their teens, mixed with a few older heads like Phil Dickerson, Stephen Laws, Alistair Burnage and captain James Pashley.

“My aim for this season is simply to keep the lads together, to keep them all happy, keep educating the younger lads, hopefully improving the way they play their football,” he says.

“I think things are going really well at the moment. We’ve had a few pre-season games, the lads are still getting to know each other’s names and are still getting used to playing together, but it’s going better than I ever expected so far.

“At the moment, it is just me running the side. A very good friend of mine, Keith Crookes, is the chairman and lifelong member of the club. Keith was involved with the club’s success in the past alongside Richard Deeley, who was the club’s most successful manager.”

Unfortunately Dickerson had to retire from playing at only 19 years old due to ongoing knee problems, but it is hard not to get the impression that he would have been coaching at such a young age anyway.

His passion and enthusiasm for the role of improving footballers is obvious, so much so that he is already onto his third management role. His view that it football should be an education which takes place in a fun, social environment speaks volumes.

While thousands of people across the country spend their time fantasising about running a club while playing computer games such as Football Manager, Dickerson is actually doing it, and has now created the foundations of a club of his own. Furthermore, he will also be well aware of how to run a successful team having been involved with King George, where his dad also played, for a while.

“I am a bit gutted about not being able to play anymore,” admits the Liverpool fan, “but I’m loving every minute of managing at the moment. Me and my father Phil stepped down from our managerial role at Eastmoor FC a couple of months back, and I am now in the management set up at Hall Green United Reserves, who play in the West Yorkshire Alliance Division Two, where I am learning a lot more about football every week and it’s a pleasant experience.

“My aim over the next few seasons is again to hopefully keep the young lads together, and then to bring some success back to Rocking Horse FC. It is a huge name in the history of Sunday league football around the Wakefield district.

“It is obviously going to take some time, but patience makes perfect in my eyes.

“Over the years that the Rocking Horse pub was shut, many people were talking about getting a team back up from the spiritual home when it reopened, but nobody did so I am happy to have taken this opportunity.

“I was previously involved with King George FC on a Sunday, and I loved every minute of it, so I wish them all the best in the future. But when the chance came to set my own team up and to manage my own team, it was too good to refuse really!”

The old guard had better watch out, Dickerson is taking the young man’s game to another level.