Wayne Ja­cobs tells how old pal Billy White­hurst would wind keep­ers up

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

AS a tough tack­ling full-back for Hull City and Brad­ford, Wayne Ja­cobs could never be ac­cused of dol­ing out char­ity. But, af­ter hang­ing up his boots and turn­ing his back on the dugout, that’s ex­actly what the 46-year-old is do­ing now.

Ja­cobs is the founder of One In A Mil­lion, a char­ity which helps dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren in his adopted home of Brad­ford.

“We started with a sim­ple idea in 2011,” he laughs. “But it’s snow­balled and snow­balled and now it takes up ev­ery sec­ond of my time.”

But not so much that Ja­cobs couldn’t take half an hour out to look back on an 18-year jour­ney through all four di­vi­sions. From be­ing ter­ri­fied into obe­di­ence by Sergeant Wilko to play­ing with a Sheffield Wed­nes­day leg­end, the man from the steel city has plenty of tales to tell.


Sheffield Wed­nes­day. I was born and raised in the city and had played for Sheffield Boys. In those days, you could sign school­boy forms at 14, so that’s what I did. My dad had a pub and, on my 14th birth­day, peo­ple from the club came knock­ing on the door and I signed there and then.

That was in 1985, un­der Howard Wilkin­son. For a young lad he was pretty scary – very strong and sergeant ma­jori-sh. He ran a strict regime, but, look­ing back, he in­stilled great habits in us all in terms of dis­ci­pline and at­ti­tude.


Howard de­serves a men­tion for his at­ten­tion to de­tail. Ed­die Gray at Hull was bril­liant with young play­ers. Chris Ka­mara’s en­thu­si­asm was fan­tas­tic.

But, for what he achieved, I’d have to say Paul Jewell at Brad­ford. He’d been out on loan, worked in the back­ground on the coach­ing staff. He was still reg­is­tered as a player and no­body re­ally ex­pected him to make the step up so soon.

So, to get pro­moted to the Premier League in his first full sea­son as a man­ager and then to keep us up in his sec­ond, it was in­cred­i­ble.


I en­joyed play­ing with Peter Bea­grie down the left-hand side at Brad­ford. He was quick, he could shoot with both feet, cross off both feet. And, for com­mit­ment, pas­sion and energy, no­body ever came close to our skip­per, Stu­art McCall.

But, grow­ing up in the 80s and be­ing from Sheffield, I’d al­ways ad­mired Chris Wad­dle. So, when he came to Brad­ford late in his ca­reer, it was bril­liant.

His style, the speed he did those shim­mies and step-overs! There’s a fa­mous clip of him sit­ting Ryan Giggs down that tells you ev­ery­thing.

What I re­ally liked about Chris – and you can ask any­body who knows him – is that he’s a re­ally hum­ble guy. He could easily have come into our chang­ing room and gone ‘Oh, when I was with Eng­land’ or ‘When I played Mi­lan in the Euro­pean Cup’. But he’d never try to top trump any­body.


With Brad­ford into what is now the Cham­pi­onship in 1996. We beat Notts County 2-0 in the play-offs, which, if you can guar­an­tee it, is the best way to go up. It’s ev­ery young lad’s dream to play at Wem­b­ley and I’ll never for­get it. To make it even bet­ter, we’d only sneaked into the play-offs in sixth place!


Two re­ally. One was a lad called Wayne Bul­limore, a re­ally funny kid I knew at Brad­ford.The other is John Dreyer.

John had the great­est nick­name in football – ‘Tum­ble’ – and was the king of the anec­dote. You’d get back af­ter train­ing and he’d al­ways be sit­ting there, towel round him, hold­ing court and telling story af­ter story. I’m not sur­prised he’s done well as a coach be­cause play­ers will love him.


Back in my days at Booth­ferry Park, our front line was Billy White­hurst and Keith Ed­wards. We’d been on an away trip and, in those days, there were no lap­tops or iPads. There weren’t even DVDs! We just had a telly and a video on the coach.

Any­way, the gaffer put the telly on and there was a Tommy Cooper stand-up show. So, the fol­low­ing Satur­day, Billy and Keith spent the whole game shout­ing for the ball in the style of Tommy Cooper.

It was all ‘Over ‘ere son’ or ‘Yeah, just like that’. The rest of us could hardly play for laugh­ing at them.

Billy was a great char­ac­ter. Hard as nails and not the type you’d want to cross but bril­liant to have on your side. And I don’t think you’ll ever meet a more gen­er­ous man. He’d give you his last 5p if you asked for it.

He knew ev­ery trick too. In those days, goal­keep­ers would al­ways tape the top of their gloves, like a boxer. They couldn’t take them off.

So, when­ever we won a cor­ner, Billy would go and un­tie the keeper’s boots, know­ing he wouldn’t be able do them back up.

You’d hear the keeper shout­ing ‘Ref, ref’ but he’d never know what was go­ing on! He was bril­liant like that.


Play­ing at Wem­b­ley has to be up there. So does get­ting pro­moted to the Premier League. And, beat­ing Liver­pool 1-0 to stay up on the last day – when they needed a win to reach the Cham­pi­ons League – takes some beat­ing. I can’t choose be­tween them.


Snap­ping my cru­ci­ate at Booth­ferry Park in 1992. I spent 17 months out and it very nearly fin­ished my ca­reer. Hull ac­tu­ally re­leased me and I had to fight my way back into football with Rother­ham United.

I’d also say leav­ing Brad­ford in 2006. I’d had some fan­tas­tic times there and, to this day, I still live and work in the area. I had such an affin­ity with the club and leav­ing it be­hind – know­ing it prob­a­bly meant the end of my ca­reer – was dev­as­tat­ing.

I did play a hand­ful of games at Hal­i­fax as as­sis­tant to Chris Wilder but, truth­fully, I knew my play­ing days were done.


There’s not re­ally one that jumps out. I quite en­joyed the chal­lenge of play­ing at places with fear­some rep­u­ta­tions, like Mill­wall and Lu­ton.

So, with­out be­ing dis­re­spect­ful, I’d prob­a­bly say Bristol Rovers when they were play­ing at Tw­er­ton Park in Bath. Even for the era, it was a sub­stan­dard set­ting for pro­fes­sional football. I felt sorry for their lads.


One from the early days was a big winger called Ge­orge Lawrence, who played for Mill­wall and Bournemouth. No mat­ter how I tack­led him, it would bounce off his shin or hit his knee and roll just per­fect for him.

One from more re­cent times was Kieron Dyer at New­cas­tle. I re­mem­ber play­ing against him up at St James’s in his pomp and he was so, so quick – ab­so­lutely jet-heeled. At the time he was go­ing to be Eng­land’s next golden boy, be­fore all the in­juries.

As a left back, I played against some fab­u­lous play­ers in the Premier League – peo­ple like David Beck­ham – but none scared me like Kieron. He was just too fast.


It would be easy to say High­bury or Old Traf­ford or An­field. They’re all fab­u­lous places, but there was nowhere like Val­ley Pa­rade. When you’re play­ing well, it was packed and the fans were lift­ing the roof off – I used to love it and still do.


It’s all about the char­ity for me now. We’ve got two schools, an al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion one and a sec­ondary school. We’ve got com­mu­nity work­ers out and about.

We’re try­ing to cre­ate path­ways in life for young peo­ple who have dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances out­side their con­trol. If we can make them con­fi­dent and em­ploy­able – and re­move de­pri­va­tion from their lives – that will mean as much as any­thing I achieved in the game.

Funny man: John Dreyer

Favourite sta­dium: Val­ley Pa­rade

Best team-mate: Chris Wad­dle

Best man­ager: Paul Jewell

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

SALUTE: Brad­ford’s Wayne Ja­cobs, left, cel­e­brates pro­mo­tion to the Premier League with Peter Bea­grie

Tough­est op­po­nent: Ke­iron Dyer

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