Non-League: Parker to take on Lions’ armband full time

Ben Parker
Ben Parker
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NEW FULL-TIME Guiseley captain Ben Parker has revealed that his spell at Nethermoor has helped rekindle his love of football.

The former Leeds United full-back has signed on with the Lions for next season and will wear the captain’s armband on a full-time basis following the exit of Andy Holdsworth, who has retired from playing to take up a permanent coaching position at Barnsley FC, working in their academy.

Parker is the latest Guiseley player to commit to the club for 2015-16, with fellow defender Danny Hall also signing on for next season.

Others to have committed their futures to the club include Oli Johnson, Adam Boyes, Wayne Brooksby, Jake Lawlor and Ryan Toulson, with new signings Adam Lockwood and Will Hatfield also arriving at Nethermoor.

Despite interest from a couple of League Two sides, Parker was only too happy to commit to the Lions for their maiden voyage in the Conference Premier.

Parker, 27, who endured plenty of injury anguish during the final few years of his professional career before linking up with Guiseley in late 2013, said: ”It is a good little club and until I got injured in January, it was the first time I had enjoyed football in about three or four years and I was buzzing.

“I did have a few offers elsewhere and spoke to a few clubs. But I always said to Bowzer (Mark Bower) that I wanted to stay and Guiseley was my first choice and I was quite glad to get it done.

“A couple of League Two clubs were interested and a couple at the same level as well.

“With the club being at this level for the first time and with most of the lads deciding to step up and with a few new signings as well, the club has shown some good intentions. It is nice to be captain too.

“Between myself and Andy Holdsworth last year, we were swapping the armband around between us.

“But with Andy retiring and taking up a full-time coaching role at Barnsley, Mark came to me and asked me to be captain and that’s a big honour and one of the reasons why I wanted to stay.”

Parker admits that Bower’s management and his friendship with the 35-year-old, who he played with during a loan spell at Bradford City in 2006-07, also played its part in his decision to sign on again at Guiseley.

Bower lured Parker to Nethermoor shortly after taking over at the club in the autumn of 2013.

And the ex-Whites full-back says his time at Nethermoor has been a truly uplifting one.

Just like with Oli Johnson, Bower has managed the training workload of Parker sensibly in order to get the best out of him.

And Parker is fully appreciative of that fact.

He said: “A big part of me enjoying things again is down to the club and to Mark as well.

“He understands my situation that sometimes I might not be able to train here and there.

“But I have known Mark for coming on 10 years now and we have a great understanding.”

Injury kept Parker out of Guiseley’s fateful Conference North play-off campaign but it was a case of fifth time lucky as they turned around a 2-0 deficit at Chorley to record a thrilling 3-2 victory on the other side of the Pennines.

With a glorious chapter penned in the history of the Lions, the task for the club now is to write another in their first-ever campaign in the fifth tier of English football, with Guiseley’s fixtures to be unveiled later this week.

Parker said: “I have really enjoyed my time at Guiseley, although it was a strange (play-off) final last year.

“At 2-0 down, we were down and out and if someone had come to me at half-time and said we’d win that, I’d have said they were crazy.

“It was am amazing day and achievement for the club, having been in the play-offs before for four or five years.

“There’s no expectation on us next year and that’s a good thing as in the past four or five years with us being in the play-offs, we have had the pressure on that and it will stand us in good stead.

“We know it will be tough. But with a bit of luck, we can have a good season.”

Centre-half Hall has also signed on the dotted line for Guiseley last season, with the former Celtic Nation player making up for lost time after breaking his leg just before the start of the 2014-15 campaign in a pre-season friendly to become a key figure at the back end of the campaign.

Hall admits to also having interest elsewhere – and more lucrative offers – but signing up for the next part of Guiseley’s remarkable journey meant much more than just money.

He added: “The strange thing is that ninety per cent of the lads, myself included, could have earned better money elsewhere when the offers a lot of us had, speaking to the lads.

“But the thing is we have a great team spirit and have all done very well and ended up getting promoted and everyone gets on.

“There’s a great feel to the club and everyone is delighted to stay together and keep the bulk of the squad together.

““We are onto a really good thing here at Guiseley and we are relishing the next part of the journey for us.”