Helping hand: Leigh Bromby’s return to his Liversedge roots sees him in race against time

Former Leeds Utd & Sheff Wednesday player Leigh Bromby.
Former Leeds Utd & Sheff Wednesday player Leigh Bromby.
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WITH THE Christmas season in full view, the sight of a former professional player giving something back to the non-league club where his footballing dreams began represents a particularly endearing story.

In the time of giving and thinking of others, Huddersfield Town professional development coach Leigh Bromby has certainly done that in terms of assisting ‘his’ club, Liversedge FC – and staying true to his roots by not forgetting them either – even accounting for his crammed diary.

Leigh Bromby, in his Sheffield United days.

Leigh Bromby, in his Sheffield United days.

Do not let it be said that the former Leeds United, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday defender does not have his hands full, with the 36-year-old likely to be excused for thinking that the term of ‘multi-tasking’ was invented for him.

Alongside his duties coaching at Town, Bromby also helps run an academy called Premier Coaching, putting youngsters through their paces in sessions and training camps.

If that is not enough, there’s an estate agent’s business, with Bromby being the co-owner of West Yorkshire-based Coubrough and Co.

Then there are his duties as chairman at Northern Counties Premier League outfit Liversedge, the club he played for as a teenager and where he was spotted by Owls scouts before getting his big footballing break.

Leigh Bromby, pictured during his Leeds days.

Leigh Bromby, pictured during his Leeds days.

While some ex-players sometimes forget the humble origins of where their journey began, Bromby was never likely to – and it is now about putting something back in.

Bromby told The Yorkshire Post: “I started out at Liversedge and they were good days and it is a great club; a real community club.

“The lads who are up there are not getting paid and the odd few just get expenses.

“Most are up there because they love football and you get that feel when you are up there.

“My dad, granddad and uncle all played there and I have a great link at the club.

“My role is to help raise the profile of the club really. In terms of working there, I am really a ‘name’ chairman.

“People are still there from when I was there; all the same people who give up all their time.

“It is unbelievable really, people such as Bryan Oates (secretary) and Bob Gawthorp (president) were there when I was there as a player.

“It is all down to them why the club is still there.

“My commitments mean I don’t get to many games. But I do get to the committee meetings and have an affinity with the club and try and help out as much as I can.

“Non-league clubs are massively importantly. You look at the likes of (Jamie) Vardy, while I started at Liversedge. It’s offering the young lads the opportunity to come and play.

“The manager has done fantastic and they have a really young team as well and they use it a bit for lads who have got released from other clubs to come and play. If they do well for us, they can hopefully progress up the ladder again.”

The profile of the club – in seventh place and currently well positioned for their highest league finish since 2007-08 – has certainly been raised this season, thanks in part to the inspired efforts of a fans’ group that urged supporters of all the club’s nearby professional clubs in West Yorkshire to help ‘Pack out the Clayborn’ in a big social media drive.

The upshot was that a season’s best NCEL Premier crowd of 605 attended the home game with Bridlington Town on October 11, the club’s biggest gate since an attendance of 826 witnessed the club’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie against Coalville Town in 2004.

But in the world of grassroots football, challenges to overcome and hurdles to clear are ever-present.

It is an ongoing battle.

For Liversedge, it is raising funds to improve Clayborn with the club facing a race against time to update their changing rooms and other outdated facilities to ensure ground grading criteria are met – to avoid being forced out of the NCEL Premier next season.

Because the road leading to the stadium is not fit for purpose, the club keeps being turned down for planning permission and funding, with the issue somewhat problematic.

On the situation, Bromby added: “If we don’t get some funding to build some new changing rooms, they will relegate us from the league and we’re trying to get funding and planning permission for a new road.

“If we achieve that, the facilities would be fantastic and we’d open it up to the community.

“Football has changed because kids don’t play on the street anymore. That’s where I learnt, but it just isn’t like that these days.

“If we could provide a facility where kids can come and play and people can hire the pitch, you can get players coming through here.

“You also want kids playing sport, but they need facilities where it is a safe environment for them to go.”