The Man known as Sparky has been more successful as Wheatley manager than his football betting predictions recently. Never afraid to voice his opinions (usually in a high-pitched Southern twang), Sparky is a livewire both in the changing room and on the touchline. Referees have often been on the receiving end of Sparky’s “hairdryer treatment”, which just goes to show his enthusiasm and verve for the Wheatley AFC cause. A master tactician, Sparky is the brains behind operation, which is probably the first (and no doubt last) time he will be complimented about his mental capacity! Admiral Nelson, Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin…Sparky. You better believe they are all great men!
Rory Kroon (Keeper / Striker)
“WHO LET THE DOGS OUT…WHO, WHO, WHO, WHO, WHO …WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?” The man now universally known as Kroon Dog has had a varied season, from playing a starring role up front against Otley Town, to appearing between the sticks donning outsized gloves to protect his exorbitantly large hands. Although unlucky to be hounded by niggling injuries, Kroon Dog can often been seen supporting The Wheatley at their home games, chasing sticks with gay abandon and being followed around by the rest of the Kroon clan with small plastic doggie bags.
Jo Varley (Keeper / Roving Reporter)
Lager has stepped in twice when needed to put his dignity on the line as reserve goalkeeper. Managing with aplomb to make the job look very difficult indeed, his current record stands at conceding one goal every 20 minutes. Mind you, Lager has the “hands on the hips looking despairingly flustered” look down to a tee! In his defence, should Lager be given more than 33 minutes notice before his services are required, he is sure he’ll come good in the end. At the moment, though, he is more Gordon Brittas than Gordon Banks! Lager also does a spot of reporting in his spare time for 'The Yeadon Gazette'!
Richard Lord (Keeper / Part-timer)
As Wheatley's once regular ‘keeper, “old man” Lordy has made more stops than Michael Palin managed during his Pole to Pole adventure. Not averse to a pre-match cigarette, he is as relaxed as a sedated sloth snoozing high in the Amazonian canopies. Assured under a high ball, confident with low shots, Lordy just about has all the characteristics of a complete goalkeeper. Just ask Neville Southall – he came to Lordy to ask for his advice in 1979! Lordy is now somewhat of a recluse and can only be found under Ilkley's biggest thumb (Advice - grow a pair mate!)
Chris Head (Keeper)
When The Wheatley was at their wit’s end after Lordy picked (g)up an injury, up stepped Chris to replace the veteran goalkeeper. Well, what can we say? An astonishingly assured performance in nets brought plaudits from all who witnessed his heroics. A good keeper is a treasured asset to have, and The Wheatley was delighted to have snapped him up when available. On that famous day, Chris stopped more shots that Batfink in his prime!
“Nimble”, “animated” and “sprightly” are just some of the words from a whole plethora of adjectives one would use to describe Botty Lad (see below). Only kidding Andy! The robust central defender possesses a kick similar in power to an agitated mule during mating season. Solid in the air and adopting an old-school “no nonsense” approach to defending, Andy’s book entitled “Hibbert’s Guide To Defending – Kick The Bastards In The Air” will be in all good bookshops (and even some poor ones) soon! Additionally, Andy will happily discuss his tactics over a post-match Stella!
Andy Hibbert (Defender)
Eric Bana (Defender)
He pops up here, he pops up there, The Incredible Hulk is everywhere! The transition from rugby league to Sunday football may be a step too far for most people, but Eric Bana is no ordinary person! A superhero performance in Wheatley’s last game brought young Eric the man-of-the-match accolades from…well, Meg, Rocky and his dog! Never one to shy away from a challenge, Eric is a player whom demands your attention. Watch out, Dynamos! There’s a new power in town!
Johnny Turnbull (Defender)
What have Ron Jeremy and J.T got in common? Big tackles! Oof!With sleeves rolled up and shin-pads firmly secure, J.T has been a very fine servant for The Wheatley this season. He likes nothing better than rolling around in the mud like a sweaty hog on a first date at Old MacDonald’s farm.There has been some speculation recently about which professional team he supports. Is J.T a Leeds fan? A pint for the first person to ask him!
Joe McTigue (Defender)
AKA “Red Stripe”, experienced lager guzzling Tiguey comes from a fine stock of sportsmen. The word on the street is that Red Stripe themselves have approached Tiguey with a lucrative sponsorship deal – quite a credible report considering quaffing Jamaican booze is not yet a sport! His shimmering hips have made one appearance at home this season for Wheatley AFC. More appearances wouldn’t go amiss Tiguey Lad!
Dave Healey (Defender)
Wheatley’s Mr Consistent. Has Davva ever had a bad game? Certainly not in this lifetime, pal! Generally as cool as a polar bear wearing a pair of Aviators, Davva at left back is a reassuring presence for any Wheatley goalkeeper – even Lager! That’s not to say he doesn’t get fired up. Heaven only knows what he’d be like on the pitch if something really wound him up!
Chris Lloyd (Defender)
On the pitch Lloydy is as hungry as a gout-ridden pensioner during Meals on Wheels week. A cheeky chappy, an unshaven Lloydy also bears more than a passing resemblance to a disobedient chimpanzee at his first tea party! Strong in the tackle, the Wheatley defender never gives up the cause and will run and run until the final whistle. So much so that rumour has it Lloydy will be auditioning to replace the Duracell Bunny when it eventually runs out of steam. Watch this space!
Johnny Dinsdale (Defender)
Dinners has been more of a spectator these days, although was rewarded a gold star by coming up with the nickname “Eric Bana” – a name so subtly ingenious even the Gazette haven’t picked up on it yet! He’s getting old, sure, but the advance in years will only bring more experience to The Wheatley. Priceless!
Andy Wheeler (Midfield)
“Use your pace, Wheels!” Roy Castle must have loved stalwart Wheatley playmaker Wheels, as they both know dedication is what you need to succeed! He’s a Wednesday fan – “Owl” we’ll never know! Often seen causing mayhem in the centre of the park (and sometimes on the football pitch), Andy is as committed as they come. Organised, stylish and a dreamy left peg fans call "The Wand", Wheels’ love affair with the Wheatley wagon rolls on and on. Get that man a pint!
Al Hey (Midfield)
Master of Trickery and High Priest of Deception – no, it’s not Paul Daniels, it is Wheatley’s very own Pocket Dynamo, Al Hey! Bamboozling not only the opposition but sometimes his own comrades and even the supporters, Al’s assists must have reached doubles figures this season…well, at least in the high singles! A great lad to have around, Al is undoubtedly one of Wheatley AFC’s star performers and arguably the team’s most famous son, having appeared in the Gazette more times than any other player. And all this time no-one knew his dad was interested in photography!
Chris Quaife (Midfield)
The Enforcer. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? You’d be forgiven for thinking this to be an ITV2 spin-off series, but in fact this tag belongs to Guppy! The bruising midfielder has successfully laid claim to be Wheatley’s hard man, marshalling the troops and implementing terror to reduce both opponents and referees to blubbering babies in the same vein as Norman Hunter. Give him a few years and he’ll have more bookings than Tom Jones at The Flamingo Hotel in 1962! Fully committed and reliable, Guppy has been nothing short of a revelation!
Jonny Keith (Midfield)
Va Va Vvrooom!Motorcycle lover J.K certainly has a big engine, and he has plenty of gas to burn on the pitch to boot! A man for the big occasions, fearless J.K is as prickly a customer as the bristles on his face. He’s like a bulldog on speed, chomping at the bit, snarling, and slobbering with enthusiasm. And you should see him when he’s not in the boozer! Enough praise – just get him a pint.
Adam Emmott (Midfield)
Where has Adam been all this time? Wheatley’s newest recruit has exceeded all expectations by consistently turning up on time! No, seriously, Adam The Lionheart has put in the hard yards and slogged his guts out, but you would expect nothing less from an Ermysted’s lad! Praise must go to Wheels for his efforts in securing Adam. We’d all rather play with him than against him. Solid indeed!
Danny Bott (Midfield)
“Ref-er-reeee!”Make no mistake – young Botty Lad likes to get stuck in, hounding defenders and chasing lost causes like a pack of cheetahs pursuing a wounded gazelle. A talented crosser of the ball, what Botty Lad lacks in brawn (and brain!) he more than makes up for with skill.Regarding referees decisions, he may have more hang-ups than a school cloakroom, but you can’t put a price on youthful exuberance. A great lad to have on board The HMS Wheatley.
Ben Woods (Forward)
Often seen up front with Cocky, Woody regularly ploughs through the mud like an expertly driven Massey Ferguson. Relentless badgering more often not reaps great rewards for striker Woody. The man simply never lets you down! Not too commonly to be found in an Ilkley pub, The Wheatley are hoping Woody will change his habits to reflect on the great work he does for the club.
Paul Dawson (Midfield)
“There’s only one Paul Dawson, there’s only one Paul Dawson. He’s got no hair, we don’t care, walking in a Dawson Wonderland!” The bald, Bantams-besotted buffoon is indeed a loyal ‘un, travelling the lengths and breadths of the country in support of his beloved Bradford City come hell or high water. And all power to him! Making a brief second-half appearance at Apperley Bridge did no harm to Daws’s already impressive football credentials. Likes a pint, apparently.
Nick Cockcroft (Forward)
More versatile than a Bird’s Eye potato waffle, Cocky has appeared for most of the season on Wheatley’s front line, targeting defenders and agitating goalkeepers with shots galore. Don’t be surprised to see him on the wing, though! The Wheatley striker possesses a laid-back, almost nonchalant, aura in front of goal, prompting comparisons with Berbatov. Cocky has a far superior cover drive, though!
Rick Arundel (Forward)
Rocky up front is a sight to behold. His turn of speed has never before been witnessed since two youths in Seacroft inserted a firecracker up a whippet’s jacksee! One-two’s, nutmegs, step-overs…the man is unstoppable! Rocky always puts his body on the line for The Wheatley. Sparky must be very proud of him!
Ben Cater (Forward)
Appearances can be deceptive. Just ask Kroon Dog – he looks half intelligent!
He may come across as having a physique one would normally associate with the Belarus Under-11 Gymnastics Team, but in fact Ben has proved he can play with the big boys and consistently raises eyebrows with his hidden strength and continuous determination. Never seen him in the boozer, though, but no doubt the young whippersnapper will buck his ideas up!
Terry Pearson (Sicknote)
Tez hasn’t been as readily available as The Wheatley would have liked, but that has not stoped him from putting his body on the line when required! Slow-witted but with a dynamic acceleration, we’re certain Tez will up the ante and pull on his boots more often next season. More of an attacking player with an innate footballing ability, a regular-playing Tez would be a very fine addition to any team. Football team, that is. Can you imagine him playing netball?!
Andrew Rhodes (Utility player)
More dishevelled than a Skid Row vagabond, Rhodsey Lad has displayed a remarkable ability to perform in goal with blood alcohol levels that would topple a giraffe. Naturally gifted, Rhodsey is the kind of sportsman that can turn his hand to anything. Verbally aggressive, the young upstart shows no fear in conveying his opinion – usually in a torrent of foul-mouthed outbursts!
Impressive at swinging ape-like on the cross bar, too. Is Rhodsey Olympics-bound in the near future? Only he knows. Only he knows.
Written by Lager Varley