17th July – Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom will be hoping his managerial career will go slightly further than his playing career but he needs to make sure he chooses the right career path.

Leaving Barnsley for Leeds United might be an easy decision to some but maybe he should have avoided taking the job when he did as the club don’t seem to keep their managers in charge for very long. It is good to see that he is ambitious but after just four wins in 16 games he was sacked. He still has a long way to go in his career.

Heckingbottom started his career at Sunderland but never made a professional league appearance for the club and was sent out on loan to Scarborough, Hartlepool United and Darlington, with the full back joining the latter permanently in 1999. After 126 appearances and six goals, the defender was showing his potential and joined Norwich City in 2002. However, he couldn’t break into the team regularly and after just 16 games his contract was cancelled.

Heckingbottom Darlington

Bradford City was his next destination and he quickly became a fan favourite with his wholehearted and committed performances. Despite the club getting relegated at the end of the season, Heckingbottom was named the Player of the Year, and this convinced Sheffield Wednesday to sign the defender.

In his first season at Wednesday, he played more games than any other player for the club and scored four goals as the club gained promotion to the Championship after winning the playoffs. Unfortunately an injury during pre-season meant he lost his place in the side and never regained the left back spot so on the 13th January 2006 he joined boyhood club Barnsley. Once again he helped the club gain promotion through the playoffs and scored in the penalty shootout victory over Swansea City.

Heckingbottom BC

After his move was made permanent he played a key role in helping the club avoid relegation comfortably but in the following summer he rejoined Bradford City. After a good start he would start to pick up injuries and after 53 league games he left the club again, this time he signed for Conference side Mansfield Town.

An injury ruined his pre-season and he didn’t make his debut until October 2009, 11 months after he had last played a professional game. After just 11 games he was loaned out to Gateshead who made the deal permanent in the next summer. He would only feature 22 times in the 2010-11 season and after a short spell at Harrogate Town he decided to retire.

Heckingbottom barnsley

Since retiring, Heckingbottom has already managed over 100 league games and won the League One playoffs with Barnsley as well as the Football League Trophy during the 2015-16 season which led to him being given the job on a permanent basis after two previous spells as caretaker.

The final word can go to former Mansfield Town manager David Holdsworth. “He is a class act and an accomplished player. I am delighted to have him on board.”

2nd June – Leigh Bromby

Leigh Bromby is one of the few players that has featured both for Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United and was well liked by both fans.

The central defender seemed to be Yorkshire through and through as he also turned out for Leeds United and is currently a coach at Huddersfield Town. Bromby came through the youth academy at Hillsborough but made his professional debut whilst on loan at Mansfield Town on the 12th December 1999 in a 0-0 draw with Barnet. During the loan spell he would also go on to score his first career goal in a 3-1 win over Southend United.

In the following season, Bromby made his debut for Wednesday as a substitute and would go on to make 20 appearances in the second half of the season. Over the next three seasons he became a regular for the team but he did also spend a five game spell on loan at Norwich City during the 2002-03 campaign.

Bromby SW

At the end of the 2003-04 season with Wednesday in Division Two, he made the surprising move to neighbours Sheffield United. He was an instant success at Bramall Lane, playing in every single league game and contributing five goals. In the following season he helped the team gain promotion to the top flight and would feature in 17 Premier League games but unfortunately he could not help them secure their place in the league.

Injuries then caught up with the defender and he could not get a good run in the side and this led to him leaving for Watford on the 31st January 2008. United manager at the time Bryan Robson did not want to sell Bromby but the player wanted regular football and reluctantly allowed him to leave. After just one year at Watford, he returned to Sheffield United, initially on loan and then permanently.

Bromby SU

This move didn’t last long as just a few weeks after signing permanently, and not making an appearance in the new season under manager Kevin Blackwell, he signed for boyhood club Leeds United. In his first season he played a key role in their promotion back to the Championship but he will have been disappointed that he was suspended for their historic FA Cup win over Manchester United. This turned out to be his last season as first choice and became a bit part player and a ruptured patella knee tendon effectively ended his career on the 3rd May 2012. He retired after playign 380 games.

Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) Leigh Bromby (Leeds). Leeds United 1:3 Arsenal, FA Cup 3rd Round Replay

Since retiring, Bromby has took his coaching badges and was part of Leeds United’s academy until he was made redundant by controversial owner Massimo Cellino. Since August 2014, he has been a part of Huddersfield Town’s coaching setup.

The final word can go to Norwich City manager, Nigel Worthington who signed him on loan. “Leigh has made a very promising start to his career at Wednesday. This move is about him having a chance to get some games under his belt. He’s a very good defender.”

14th October – Clarke Carlisle

Clarke Carlisle is known as the smartest footballer in Britain and he has lived up to this reputation by appearing on Question Time and Countdown but has also shown another side when working as a commentator on ITV.

Although the 35 year old has added knowledge to the matches he commentates on, he has occasionally made mistakes, including one that was picked up at the World Cup when he didn’t understand why Colombian striker Jackson Martinez couldn’t get into the Ecuador team. It was an honest mistake but it was still funny especially considering the reputation he has.

Focusing on his playing career, he started at Blackpool and made his debut in a 4-3 win over Wrexham on the 2nd September 1997. In the following match he scored his first goal to give his side a 2-1 win over Carlisle United. In his 93rd and final appearance for the club he scored in a 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic and despite not being able to keep them in Division Two, his performances had attracted the attention of other clubs.
Carlisle Blackpool
On the 25th May 2000 Carlisle signed for QPR. He made 32 appearances for the club but his season was cut short on the 31st January 2001. After missing the entire 2001-02 season he returned on the 7th September 2002 in a 4-0 win over Mansfield Town. He returned to good form and helped the team reach the playoffs but they lost in the final. His career once again took a turn for the worse as he developed an alcohol addiction and missed a month of the season to have treatment. He returned to action in October 2003 and was in fantastic form winning the Division Two Player of the Month in November. Carlisle scored one goal in 39 games as QPR were promoted to the Championship. But after rejecting a new contract he joined Leeds United.
Carlisle QPR
During the early months of the season he was a regular starter but an injury on the 29th November 2004 kept him out of action and he found it difficult to break back into the first team. After just one season and 38 games he left for Watford. He was a key player in Watford’s promotion, but missed the playoffs and the injury forced him to miss eight months of the Premier League season. To gain fitness he joined Luton Town on loan on the 2nd March 2007 and played five games for the club.

He finally made his Premier League debut on the 9th April in a 4-2 victory over Portsmouth but could not stop them getting relegated. In the summer he joined Burnley and had a solid season but ended it with two red cards in the final four games. In the 2008-09 campaign he had a lot more success and in the Playoff final win over Sheffield United he picked up the Man of the Match award. Unfortunately they, like Watford, only spent one season in the top flight.

He was regular in the side during the 2010-11 season but when Eddie Howe was appointed he decided to send him out on loan to Preston for the entire 2011-12 season. He played 27 times for the club before the deal was terminated by mutual consent and on the same day he signed for Northampton Town on loan. He was appointed captain and played 18 times for the club.
Carlisle NT
When his contract at Burnley expired he joined York City on a short term deal, playing 14 times before rejoining Northampton Town. He helped the club reach the League Two playoffs but they were beaten 3-0 by Bradford City and on the 23rd May 2013 Carlisle announced his retirement.

The final word can go to Aidy Boothroyd. “I’ve known Clarke a long time. He’s a leader in every sense. I’m hoping he will be someone to lay down a lot of foundations off the pitch as regards to culture.”

20th July – Damien Delaney

Not many people expected Crystal Palace to avoid relegation last season but they defied the odds and a big part of that was because of the performances of Damien Delaney.

Delaney turns 33 today and only missed one Premier League games all season which just shows how vital he was to the team and three different managers over the course of the season decided that he was good enough for the side. Palace started the season with Ian Holloway in charge and then Keith Millen took over temporarily before Tony Pulis came in to guide the club to safety and Delaney was very consistent throughout.

The centre back started his career at Cork City before being signed by Leicester City who were in the Premier League at the time. In total he made eight appearances in the league for the club and also had loan spells at Stockport County, Huddersfield Town and Mansfield Town. It was at Stockport where he scored his first career goal against Rotherham United.

Peter Taylor was the manager that brought him to England and it wasn’t long before he signed him again. On the 17th October 2002 Taylor made Delaney his first signing at Hull City for £50,000. His early career at Hull was not the best and he struggled to keep his place in the team but this was down to the fact he was used in a variety of positions, including left back and in midfield. When he was moved to centre back he found his feet and began to show his true potential and was voted the Player of the Year in the 2003-04 promotion winning season and although he didn’t score many goals, his against Rochdale that season was voted Goal of the Season.
Delaney Hull
Back in the Championship Delaney started to play in a number of positions once again but now he was much older and had more experience to cover these roles. He as a key asset all through his time at Hull and will go down in history as the last Hull City player to score at Boothferry Park before they moved to their new stadium.

He stayed until January 2008 and he played 224 times in the league for Hull before signing for QPR. After signing a three and a half year deal at the club a lot was expected of him and it was not long before he scored his first goal against Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-1 away defeat. He however only stayed at the club until the summer of 2009 when he signed for Ipswich Town.
Delaney Ipswich
They paid an initial £750,000 for his services but after a freak injury in the next summer he almost lost his leg. He had a blood clot in his thigh which meant that he had had to have emergency surgery. After recovering from this he scored his first goal for the club against local rivals Norwich City but was sent off soon afterwards.

After making over 100 appearances for the club he left by mutual consent in 2012 and signed for Crystal Palace. He was a key player in their promotion winning season and then keeping them in the Premier League.
Delaney CP
The final word can go to Keith Millen. “I think he was thinking of quitting the game or moving abroad to America. For him to go there in his career to having two great years at Palace, he’s been so consistent. I think that has coincided with how the team has been set up as well this season.”