This is the third in a series of ‘Life in Football’ articles which looks at the people behind the scenes at GAFC and their careers outside of the club.
This article first appeared in the Guiseley AFC Matchday Programme, for more exclusive content be sure to pick one up from our sellers before games at Nethermoor.
Over the last three decades Guiseley AFC Club Ambassador Bruce Speller has been a constant presence behind the scenes at Nethermoor.
The long-time non-league fan has worn many hats over his career, both for his clubs and for the leagues they have played in, and through his experience he has built an incredible knowledge of the game.
Bruce’s first football experiences came watching Brentford with his father.
However, he soon became disenchanted with the Bees because of poor performances and an obvious lack of effort.
Through local teams Hounslow Town, and later Hampton, Bruce began to get a taste of non-league football, and was impressed with the players’ commitment, and the social atmosphere at the games.
“You meet people from other clubs who have a similar outlook, you can talk football, and obviously when I got older I could enjoy a pint or two as well!
“That’s the good part about it. I’ve made a lot of friends around the country through it.”
One such friend was FA Councillor George Jones, who was also club secretary at Hayes. Jones, who was involved in the transfer of an up and coming striker by the name of Cyrille Regis, was a huge influence on Bruce, and took him to several cup finals and internationals at Wembley.
Bruce was such a regular presence at Hampton that he eventually became the Programme Editor, and later a a member of the committee. Following a work move to the North East and after spending seven years working with North Shields FC, Bruce moved down to Yorkshire, and began working with Guiseley AFC.
“I wrote to Guiseley man Barry Wood, who was secretary of the Northern Counties East League at that time.
“I said that if any club needs my services I am here and he passed me straight on to Guiseley.
“It was 1985 when I first got involved and I’ve been here ever since.
“What surprised me was the level of support here.
“For some reason it got under my skin and because it was so local it felt right.”
Bruce’s first role at Guiseley was as Programme Editor but one of his first tasks with the club was to make sure that the club had the facilities to progress.
At that time the First Division had been established, and Nethermoor did not have the facilities to enter.
“We realised we needed floodlights if we wanted to progress.
“We found out that they were selling off railway pylons in Bradford but unfortunately Curzon Ashton got wind of it as well so we had to share them.
“There were 14 pylons and we got seven each.”
This would not be the last time that Bruce’s experience would have an impact on the Lions’ progression.
He spent time ground grading for the Northern Premier League, which allowed him to make recommendations to the club’s management on what they would need to do to make sure Nethermoor was suitable for the next level of competition.
So much so that when the ground inspection came there weren’t any improvements that the club needed to do.
After spending over three decades at the club it is no surprise that Bruce has a long list of special memories from his time here.
From promotion triumphs to cup upsets, he has seen it all.
“Without doubt the first time we went to Wembley was the most memorable experience.
“We went down about ten days before the game and got shown around behind the scenes. That was a terrific experience,” said Bruce.”
But it is the memory a 2006 FA Cup victory over Tamworth which he particularly enjoys.
After drawing 2-2 with Tamworth at home, Bruce recalls watching the draw for the next round in the clubhouse.
“It was announced that the winner of the replay would play Luton Town away and it was clear that the Tamworth fans were looking ahead.”
Bruce recalled: “It was almost a formality for them to beat us. It was a tough first-half which saw us 2-1 down at the break but fortunes soon changed after a second-half equaliser.
“Five minutes after that Ryan Senior goal Peter Summer scored the winner.
“He’d never scored for us before but he hammered one in from the edge of the box, it flew in.
“We just went bonkers, we couldn’t believe it.”
That win meant a lot to fans but it had an even more important impact on the club.
Bruce recalls: “As a result of the win we got ten grand and a trip to play Luton Town in the First Round Proper.
“The money we earned in that cup run turned us around but we had a massive amount to thank our former Chairman Phil Rogerson for.
“He had mortgaged his house to keep the club going and that was incredible considering that he had a young family.”
Written by Alex Smith – Alex has written a series of articles on the people who work behind the scenes at the club.
He is studying for a Masters Degree at Leeds Trinity University in Horsforth.
The club are on a mission to bring #GuiseleyTogether by asking new and existing fans to back the lower priced model with a commitment to making football in Guiseley affordable for all the family. Adult season tickets are priced at only £150 compared to £240 last season, order yours online here.