Clearly, a deep sense of belonging envelops a player when he embarks on his fourth term with a club, much like goalkeeper Brad Wade has undertaken with Guiseley AFC. A product crafted by Rochdale’s Academy, the 23-year-old has aligned himself with The Lions for the upcoming season in the Pitching In Premier Division. His certainty in the support of the fans and the endorsement of Guiseley’s Sporting Director Russ O’Neill underpin this decision. Wade’s history encompasses three prior stints at the club as a loaned asset from Rochdale, during which he operated under O’Neill’s managerial guidance. Yet, as a full-contract player now, his perspective is poised for transformation.
Following a seven-year tenure with Rochdale, Wade faced a parting of ways at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. The subsequent seasons have presented significant challenges, placing the 23-year-old at a critical juncture in his career.
After his departure from Rochdale, he plied his trade with Hereford and Southport, though his journey was marred by a debilitating injury – a ruptured UCL in his elbow. An anticipated transition to St Patrick’s, a club in the Irish League Premier Division, was thwarted due to complications arising from his Non-Contract status, which impeded the acquisition of international clearance.
Consequently, Wade now seeks a rejuvenating new chapter with a club he holds deep affection for. His relief is palpable as he sheds the ‘Trialist A’ label that had accompanied him through several of Guiseley’s preseason matches.
Wade said of his move: “I am happy to be back with Guiseley, the fans there have always treated me well and Russ O’Neill is a massive part of my wanting to return. He has always been there to support me and Guiseley is the club where I most enjoyed my football. I want to get that enjoyment back in my game.”
He added: “I had trials at a few clubs but this is where I want to be. You look around the dressing room and there are some great players here now. I think we are in for a good season and hopefully, the club will return to National League North.”
Personally, Wade said that he hopes to play 40 to 50 games for the club and start to enjoy his football again.
He commented: “Everyone here was great to me last time I was here so I hope to put in good performances for them. I have been keeping fit over the summer as I waited for the right opportunity to come up. I think that is right here at Guiseley where there is a good squad, some of whom like Prince (Ekpolo), Reece Kendall and Liam Tongue I already know. I have been really impressed with the squad that has been assembled.”
Wade first joined Guiseley on loan from Rochdale for the two Covid hit seasons. He had featured on the first team bench for Rochdale but came to Guiseley to get regular playing time.
Speaking of his first two loans with the club the goalkeeper said: “I really enjoyed both spells with Guiseley for different reasons. The first loan was my first real taste of playing men’s football in front of a crowd. The seven or eight games I played before the first lockdown did so much for me in terms of my development as a player. It also gave me a real feeling of what it meant to have a winning mentality and how important each game was.
“The second spell was different as it was all behind closed doors with restrictions in place at training and on match days so it was strange circumstances for everyone involved. I was really disappointed the season ended up being voided but looking at it from a personal perspective it was another 20-25 games in the locker.”
Born in Gloucester, Wade grew up in Chorley, Lancashire, and his affiliation with Manchester United began at the tender age of 10. Following a stint with Blackburn Rovers, he made the transition to Rochdale.
During his time at Rochdale, he blossomed through the ranks of the club’s youth development program and officially inked his inaugural professional deal with the club in 2018. This agreement was subsequently prolonged, binding him to the club until the conclusion of the summer in 2022.
Having been part of Rochdale since the age of 15, this young goalkeeper actively participated in three editions of the FA Youth Cup. His instrumental role in Rochdale’s youth squad led them to clinch the EFL Youth Alliance League North West championship in the 2017-18 season. His journey also included honing his skills during a loan spell at Guiseley and a subsequent stint at Barrow.
Another budding talent, Hagie Damba, who emerged from the thriving Guiseley Academy, has made the decision to hold a dual registration with both Guiseley and Thackley for the forthcoming season. Damba’s presence was felt as he took up the substitute role in various pre-season matches for Guiseley. He made a noteworthy impact during a couple of appearances for the first team toward the conclusion of the previous season.