Football Man – Brett Gaunt

Brett will be known to most of you as the manager of the Football First Team, a role he has fulfilled with some distinction and considerable success. This is partly because Brett is a man who likes to do things properly, whether it be thinking about a team talk or ensuring the kits and match balls are in order. The aphorism ‘ Fail to prepare: prepare to fail ‘ would be one he would hang on a dressing room wall.

Brett was born in 1960 in Armley and attended Holy Family School, followed by St. Thomas Aquinas ( Cardinal Heenan ). His family moved to Old Farnley when he was seven and then when he married Sue when he was twenty, they lived in Tingley before moves to Kirkstall and finally Alwoodley. Their daughters, Natalie and Emily are both married ( Emily this August ) and Natalie’s four children, Ollie, Rhys, Riley and Phoebe keep Brett and Sue very busy.

Brett started work at sixteen as an office junior in an architect’s office in Blenheim Terrace near the University but he soon decided he could do more and following some part-time study he worked his way up within the firm, finally becoming an associate. After twenty one years there he moved to West and Machell until after thirteen years he was made redundant during the recession. He has now been working five to six years for a building surveyor, David Yeadon, which has become more of an architect’s practice.

Unsurprisingly football takes up much of his time. He has only just given up playing 5-a-side, as well as tennis and badminton, so he is able to give more time to watching his grandson Rhys, playing for Leeds United Academy. A long term interest in drawing has lead to him recently taking up sketching, something he may pursue further when he retires.
Within the ACA he has been a member of the tennis section and has performed in Stars in their Eyes and a pantomime.It is football, however, that he really enthuses about. He played for the Senior team from its inception in 1999, five years as captain. When it was time to hang up his eleven-a-side boots he took on the Reserves for two years before being persuaded to take on the First Team. Three phenomenal years of success followed, with promotion from Division 1 as champions followed by promotion to Senior A a season later. In their first season at this level, 2009-10, they were crowned champions and won the prestigious Leeds and District Cup. In this they were competing against teams from a much higher level and became the first and only team from the Yorkshire Amateur League to achieve this in eighty eight years of the competition. Brett regards this as his proudest achievement Since then the team have maintained their position in the top flight, never finishing below sixth, winning one cup and finalists in two others.

Interestingly, Brett stood down in 2012 for two seasons to allow a better qualified coach take over. It didn’t really work out and on his return the team have rediscovered their mojo. So far this season they sit top of the league with four straight wins. He puts their earlier success down to a number of good players reaching their peak together and is modest about his own contribution but there is no doubt that his approach with a group of players who are still largely locally based works. If it doesn’t work out for Gareth Southgate with England an opportunity awaits!

The club is looking forward. An improved pitch, barriers and dug outs are moves towards playing at a higher level which Brett is confident this team are capable of handling. This would require new purpose built changing rooms with the funding coming from grants. The progress of the First Team up the league lead to the formation of a reserve and third team, both of which have had their own success. However, problems with player and coach recruitment has lead to the folding of the third team. The Reserves are also without a coach and are struggling with the players they have to compete in Senior B. Brett is very keen
for someone to step forward to take them on and help maintain the club’s progress.

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