AS a youngster at Middlesbrough, Charlie Wyke used to clean Tony McMahon’s boots.
Since being reunited at Bradford City following Wyke’s arrival last January, the full-back has enjoyed reminding his team-mate of those early days at the Riverside.
Wyke takes any jibes in good spirits, the pair being such good friends that they share the commute from their native Teesside to City’s Apperley Bridge training ground base.
Or at least they did, with McMahon’s recent hamstring injury meaning the 31-year-old now has to be in the treatment room for the full day. For Wyke, this new arrangement has pluses and minuses.
“It is a bit quieter because the trip is just me and Killa (Matthew Kilgallon),” said the club’s seven-goal top-scorer. “The big plus now is we don’t arrive at training with a headache any more. He just tells stories all the way.
“Macca is as loud as you would expect. He is generally crackers, 24/7 but great to have around the training ground.
Macca is as loud as you would expect. He is generally crackers, 24/7 but great to have around the training ground.Bradford City striker Charlie Wyke on team-mate Tony McMahon
“He was doing the radio on Tuesday (against Oldham Athletic, when McMahon was the expert pundit for Pulse Radio) and he told all the lads beforehand that he was going to get on everyone’s back. That made it interesting.
“I have known him for a lot of years and he has never changed. He is good craic and has you crying with laughter every day. But, without him, it is nice to listen to the radio. Plus, ‘Killa’ gets the coffees in now.
“The downside (of McMahon travelling alone) is that we take it in turns to drive. So him being injured means I drive every two days rather than three. It is costing me a fortune in petrol.”
It is not just on the commute to training that McMahon is missed. Over the past couple of years, he has become the club’s set-piece specialist with his pinpoint delivery ensuring Wyke and his fellow attackers are provided with plenty of opportunities.
“It is strange not having him in the line-up,” added Wyke about McMahon’s absence from the last two fixtures. “He is good to have around and a great player.
“He helped me settle a lot. He is a massive character around the dressing room. Everyone gets on with him.
“He is not sure how much longer he will be out but, knowing him, he will be climbing up the walls. He has to play or he goes even more crackers.
“But, in terms of him being missing, we have good players who can step in and do the job. It is up to us all to make sure we don’t miss him.”
In McMahon’s absence, Bradford took just a point from the meetings with Bury and Oldham Athletic. It means a win is needed today at home to Charlton Athletic, with Wyke determined to do his bit.
“Getting the ball in the box is what we are about,” said the striker, who netted in the 3-1 loss at Gigg Lane. “It is then up to me or whoever to get on the end of them.
“It is good attacking football here. That is great to be part of as a striker. Even the defenders enjoy it, especially as we have been solid in the last few weeks.”