Geoff Horsfield

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Geoff Horsfield
GeoffHorsfield acknowledges crowd.jpg
Horsfield acknowledges Birmingham City's supporters at the end of the 2002–03 season
Personal information
Full name Geoffrey Malcolm Horsfield[1]
Date of birth (1973-11-01) 1 November 1973 (age 40)
Place of birth Barnsley, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current club Alvechurch
Youth career
Athersley Recreation
Worsbrough Bridge MW
1991–1992 Scarborough
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1994 Scarborough 12 (1)
1994 Halifax Town 9 (0)
1994–1996 Guiseley
1996 Witton Albion
1996–1998 Halifax Town 74 (46)
1998–2000 Fulham 59 (22)
2000–2003 Birmingham City 108 (23)
2003 Wigan Athletic 16 (7)
2003–2006 West Bromwich Albion 67 (14)
2006 Sheffield United (loan) 3 (0)
2006–2008 Sheffield United 0 (0)
2006–2007 Leeds United (loan) 14 (2)
2007 Leicester City (loan) 13 (2)
2008 Scunthorpe United (loan) 12 (0)
2009 Lincoln City 17 (1)
2009–2010 Port Vale 9 (0)
2013 Alvechurch 2 (0)
Teams managed
2010–2011 Port Vale (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16:37, 24 April 2013 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).

Geoffrey Malcolm "Geoff" Horsfield (born 1 November 1973) is an English former professional footballer and football coach, who is now playing for Alvechurch in the Midland Football Alliance. He made more than 300 appearances in the Football League playing as a striker.

He was a "strong and forceful" player, able to hold the ball up in order to bring other players into the game.[2] Horsfield made his Football League debut with Scarborough as a teenager. Released by the club, he returned to part-time football with Halifax Town, Guiseley and Witton Albion, before a second spell at Halifax saw him help the club regain their Football League status. He moved on to Fulham, with whom he achieved promotion to the First Division, before joining Birmingham City for a club record fee. He played in the final of the 2001 League Cup with Birmingham, and the following season helped them reach the Premier League.

After a short period at Wigan Athletic in 2003, he joined West Bromwich Albion, with whom he again won promotion to the Premier League. In 2006, he moved to Sheffield United, but much of his time there was spent on loan to other clubs, namely Leeds United, Leicester City and Scunthorpe United. Horsfield announced his retirement from football in 2008 after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, but after successful treatment he resumed his career, signing a six-month contract for Lincoln City in January 2009. In July of that year he was appointed player-assistant manager at Port Vale under Micky Adams, and the following summer he took up coaching full-time, before leaving the game completely in May 2012. In March 2013 he returned to playing football for Alvechurch.

Playing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Horsfield was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, the son and grandson of coal miners.[3] While still a schoolboy he started playing football for a men's team, Athersley Recreation, in the Barnsley Sunday League,[4] and had an unsuccessful trial with home-town club Barnsley F.C. On leaving school, Horsfield took a college course in bricklaying.[5] He continued playing football part-time, with Athersley, with Worsbrough Bridge in the Northern Counties East League,[6] and with Football League club Scarborough,[5] where he turned professional in July 1992.[2] Given his league debut in March 1993 by manager Ray McHale, he was released after playing 12 league matches and returned to bricklaying and part-time football.[5][7] After a nine-game spell with Halifax Town in 1994,[8] he rejoined manager McHale at Guiseley, where his 36 goals helped the club to reach third place in the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League in the 1994–95 season.[5][9] He moved on to Witton Albion, where he sustained a potentially career-threatening knee injury;[4] after making a full recovery he returned to Halifax for a fee reported as £4,000.[5]

He made his second debut for Halifax in October 1996.[8] On the last day of the 1996–97 season, needing to beat Stevenage Borough to avoid relegation from the Conference, Horsfield scored the goal which clinched a 4–2 victory.[10] The following season, Halifax won the Conference title by a nine-point margin, thus regaining their Football League status.[11] Horsfield's 30 goals in 40 league games, including hat-tricks against Yeovil Town, Telford United and Hereford United,[12][13] made him that season's Conference top scorer.[14] Together with team-mate Mark Bradshaw, Horsfield was selected for England's semi-professional representative team, for a match against their Dutch counterparts, but injury prevented him from playing.[15] In the Conference, Horsfield had still been working in the building trade while playing football part-time, but promotion to the Football League meant he had to give up his job to become a full-time footballer.[5] Seven goals in his first ten games in the Third Division attracted a bid from Fulham, then in the Second Division and managed by Kevin Keegan.[5]

Fulham[edit]

An initial fee of £300,000 was agreed, plus an additional £50,000 depending on appearances, and in October 1998 Horsfield joined Fulham.[16] A clause was also included in the contract which would allow Halifax a share of the profits from any future sale.[17] The remainder of his 1998–99 season produced 15 goals from 28 games as Fulham won the Second Division title by 14 clear points.[18][19] He was also named in the PFA's Second Division Team of the Year.[20] According to Keegan, "Geoff's your old-fashioned centre forward and we love him. He will score goals in this division, he will score goals in the next divisions. He chases a lot of lost causes and is very important for us."[21] Though less prolific in the First Division, seven league goals and another seven in the cups still made him the club's top scorer for the 1999–2000 season.[18] After new manager Jean Tigana made it clear that Horsfield's aggressive style and perceived lack of pace and mobility would not fit the way he wanted his new team to play, and brought in Louis Saha as his main striker, the player agreed to join Fulham's First Division rivals Birmingham City.[22][23]

Birmingham City[edit]

In July 2000, Horsfield signed a five-year contract with Birmingham, who paid a club record fee of £2.25 million, £350,000 of which went to Halifax Town under the sell-on clause.[17][24] He was their top scorer in his first season, finding the net on twelve occasions,[25] and his two goals in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final helped the club reach their first major final for nearly 40 years.[26] In the starting eleven for the final against his boyhood heroes Liverpool, Horsfield had been substituted by the time Birmingham lost in a penalty shootout.[27][28]

In the 2001–02 season, Horsfield was chosen Player of the Year both by Birmingham's fans and by his team-mates.[29] His strike partnership with Stern John proved crucial in the unbeaten run which helped Birmingham reach the First Division play-offs, and he scored the equaliser against Norwich City in the play-off final, which the club went on to win on penalties to earn promotion to the Premier League.[4] Horsfield had promised a donation to his first club, Athersley Rec, if he ever reached the Premiership; a few days after the play-off victory he gave them £25,000 towards improving their facilities.[5][30]

Horsfield's first Premier League goal came in the September 2002 local derby defeat of Aston Villa.[31] He also scored in the return fixture at Villa Park, an eventful game in which he ended up keeping goal when Nico Vaesen was injured after Birmingham had used all their substitutes.[32] Horsfield missed games through suspension and surgery, and was frustrated by manager Steve Bruce preferring to use him as a specialist substitute; after he came on to score a late winner against local rivals West Bromwich Albion, Bruce described him as "a manager's dream", saying that "when you're tiring, the last thing you need is Big Horse rampaging at you".[33] Starting alongside World Cup-winner Christophe Dugarry late in the season, the pair formed "an unlikely combination, brilliance from Bordeaux alongside a brickie from Barnsley, but Horsfield's robust approach has complemented Dugarry's more delicate touches";[34] their partnership produced four wins and a draw from the last six games.[31]

Wigan Athletic[edit]

Horsfield played in three Premier League matches for Birmingham City at the start of the 2003–04 season. When Birmingham manager Steve Bruce was unable to guarantee him a regular place in the team however, Horsfield moved on to Wigan Athletic, signing a three-year contract in September 2003. A transfer fee of £500,000 was agreed, though this could have risen to £1 million if the player had gone on to make enough appearances for Wigan. Horsfield said of the move, "I could easily have sat out the last two years of my contract at Birmingham, but that's not my style – I just want to play football."[35] He scored on his debut for Wigan, a 4–2 win against Wimbledon on 13 September 2003.[36] He continued to live in the West Midlands even after his transfer from Birmingham City, and after just three months at Wigan moved to West Bromwich Albion for £1 million.[37]

West Bromwich Albion[edit]

"I actually went out on a bit of a limb by saying to the chairman that I think [Horsfield] would get us promoted... I think he just gave us that little something that was missing in getting hold of the ball, a little bit of cuteness up the front that enabled us to bring other people into the game."

— Albion manager Gary Megson, reflecting on his reasons for signing Horsfield in 2003[38]

Horsfield made his Albion debut in a 1–0 defeat away to Coventry City on 20 December 2003.[39] The following month he scored his first goal for the club, in a 2–0 win against Albion's local rivals Walsall.[40] It was the first of three goals he scored during January 2004, earning him the PFA First Division Player-of-the-Month award.[41] In all he scored seven goals for Albion during 2003–04, helping the club to achieve promotion to the Premier League.

The team struggled in their first season back in the top division, while Horsfield scored just three goals in 29 league appearances.[42] His contribution on the final day of the season against Portsmouth however, proved vital to the club's survival. Coming on as a second-half substitute, he scored with his first touch,[43] before setting up a goal for team mate Kieran Richardson. Combined with results from other matches, the 2–0 win ensured Albion's escape from relegation as the first club to survive in the Premier League after being bottom at Christmas.[44] Horsfield said of the achievement, "Even though I have been promoted with every club I have been at this is the best moment of my career."[45]

Horsfield enjoyed a good start to 2005–06, signing a new two-year contract and scoring twice in both of Albion's first two home games,[46] but these proved to be the last goals he would score for the club. He made a total of 20 appearances in league and cup during his final season at West Bromwich Albion.[47]

Sheffield United and loans[edit]

Horsfield signed for Sheffield United on loan in February 2006,[48] but appeared in just three games under manager Neil Warnock in the four-month spell. Both Horsfield and Warnock wanted to terminate the loan prematurely, but West Bromwich Albion had already agreed to sell the player to United at the end of the season and refused to go back on the deal.[49] Thus the permanent transfer went through in May 2006 for a fee of £1.2 million, with Horsfield commenting that he and Warnock had resolved their differences.[50]

On 3 August 2006, Horsfield signed for Leeds United on loan until Christmas with a view to a permanent move.[51] He made his debut on the opening Championship game of the season against Norwich at Elland Road on 5 August 2006, and scored his first goal in a 2–2 draw away at Queens Park Rangers three days later. When Dennis Wise took over as Leeds manager, Horsfield was in and out of the Leeds side and his loan was terminated in January 2007.[52] At the end of the January 2007 transfer window, Leicester City took Horsfield on loan for the rest of the season.[53] He made his debut for the club in their 1–1 draw with Luton Town on 3 February 2007, and scored his first goals for them in their 3–0 victory over local rivals Coventry City on 17 February 2007.[54]

Horsfield's former West Bromwich Albion manager Bryan Robson became manager at Sheffield United at the start of the 2007–08 season, but Horsfield remained out of the side. His only appearances came in the League Cup, playing against Chesterfield in the first round and scoring against Milton Keynes Dons in the second.[55] On 31 January 2008 he moved to Scunthorpe United on loan for the remainder of the season.[56] Horsfield went straight into the Scunthorpe squad and made his debut against Charlton Athletic at Glanford Park, winning the sponsors' "Man of the match" award following the team's 1–0 victory.[57] Having played twelve games whilst on loan he was subsequently released from his contract by Sheffield United at the end of the season.[58]

Horsfield had a trial at Chesterfield during the summer of 2008, but rejected a move to Saltergate because he wanted to move to a club closer to his home in Leicester.[59] He then had a trial with Kettering Town and in September began training with Walsall.[60]

Lincoln City[edit]

On 10 October 2008, Horsfield revealed that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, and was advised that his playing career was finished.[61] By December, he was reported to be considering a return to football, either as a player or in a coaching role, after receiving successful treatment for his cancer.[62] He went on to link up with Lincoln City, managed by former Halifax Town team-mate Peter Jackson, for a week's training to assess his fitness levels with a view to possibly signing for the club.[63] After an extended trial period, Horsfield signed a short-term playing contract with the club, to run from 2 January 2009 until the end of the 2008–09 season.[64] He would also be involved with coaching the reserve team.[65] Horsfield made his debut on 12 January against Brentford, setting up the equaliser for fellow debutant Anthony Elding in a 2–2 draw. After the game he declared he was "glad to be back playing".[66] He scored his first goal for the club on 27 January 2009, in a 2–1 win against Gillingham, describing the long range shot "one of my sweetest strikes".[67] Horsfield played regularly during his time with Lincoln, but scored only that one goal, and at the end of the season the club decided not to renew his contract.[68]

Port Vale[edit]

In July 2009, Port Vale's Micky Adams appointed Horsfield as player-assistant manager. Horsfield aimed to play a majority of Vale's games in the 2009–10 season[69] while learning the ropes of management.[70] He played in the opening four games of the season despite needing painkillers for a cracked rib and a cracked bone in his hand, the first broken bones he had ever suffered.[71] The club reached the third round of the League Cup, but after three consecutive defeats, Adams placed the entire squad on the transfer list.[72] He suffered from niggling injuries, in addition to a torn hamstring, which limited his appearances at Vale Park.[73] This caused him to consider his retirement in the summer of 2010.[74] The final of the 2010 Staffordshire Senior Cup was to be his final competitive game, as the club later announced Horsfield would not be a player at the Vale the following season, though would remain on the coaching staff.[75][76]

Alvechurch[edit]

In March 2013, he joined Midland Football Alliance side Alvechurch, after agreeing to an offer from the Alvechurch chairman to play until the end of the season.[77]

Coaching career[edit]

Joining Port Vale as player-assistant manager in July 2009; twelve months later he was offered a contract at the club as a full-time assistant manager. Manager Micky Adams insisted that Horsfield would have a heavier workload over the 2010–11 season, and would have to "formulate a catalogue of players" and "get to know all the leagues at all levels".[78] However Adams also stated that Horsfield may be registered as a player and return to the field in an emergency situation.[78] This meant many hours of scouting.[79]

In December 2010, he was made joint caretaker manager at Vale, along with Mark Grew, following the departure of Micky Adams.[80] Vale were hammered 5–0 by Rotherham United in his first game in charge,[81] but rallied to beat Burton Albion 2–1,[82] before Jim Gannon was appointed manager.[83] Gannon retained Horsfield as his assistant.[84] However the new manager was keen to bring in his own staff, and so in February 2011 Stockport County approached Horsfield in a bid to sign him as a coach and also to bring him out of retirement as a player.[85] On 25 February, during a pre-match coach trip to Aldershot, Gannon left the team bus after an apparent bust-up with Horsfield.[86] It was later reported in the national media that Horsfield had requested a day off to deal with a family matter, Gannon then granted him permission but subsequently wrote a letter to the board complaining of his conduct.[87] An unnamed director then handed the letter to Horsfield, who confronted Gannon over the issue, brandishing the letter as proof when Gannon denied its existence.[88] The following week Horsfield was informed that he would face a disciplinary hearing over the matter.[89] After Horsfield was told to stay away from the club for two weeks he was invited back to his assistant role as before, with no disciplinary action taken against either party.[90] Gannon was sacked less than four weeks after the bust-up on the bus,[91] and Grew was appointed as caretaker-manager, with Horsfield as his assistant.[92]

"I have got a couple of business propositions I can go into at the moment and at this stage of my life I feel it is time for a change. I have absolutely loved my time here at Port Vale. I have got on with everybody apart from the previous manager, which is well-documented, but that happens in football and I have just got to look at the future now and look at my family."

— Horsfield speaking on his decision to quit the game.[93]

In July 2011, Horsfield stepped down as assistant manager to concentrate on his coaching qualifications, remaining at Port Vale as a coach.[94] Later in the month he scored in a friendly against Stone Dominoes, and was forced to dismiss speculation that he would make a return to the playing side of the game.[95] In December 2011, loan striker Guy Madjo celebrated his first goal for the club by running over to Horsfield on the touchline; he later said that this was "to say thank you for all the finishing (practice) that we have been doing. He has shown me a lot of things that I haven't done in the past. In seven years, I have been so many places, to so many clubs and I haven't done that with anyone else, so I just feel it was a good dedication for him."[96][97] Horsfield retired completely from football in May 2012 to pursue business interests.[98]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Tina and has four children: Chris, Chloe, Leah[61] and Lexie-Brooke.[99]

In October 2008, Horsfield was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and advised that his playing career was over.[61] As the disease was discovered in its early stages, no chemotherapy or radiotherapy was needed, surgery proved successful and less than two months later he was given the all-clear.[100][101] Horsfield decided to make his illness public to help spread awareness of the disease, and lent his support to a Premier League-backed project launched in 2009 to promote men's health issues.[100] He said: "Getting cancer was something I had to get over. I got it, wanted to beat it and I did. Now I am just glad that I've got another chance in football."[70]

Shortly before he joined Port Vale, Horsfield fell victim to the swine flu pandemic.[99] He had another health scare in January 2013, and had to be rushed to hospital for an operation to remove potentially-deadly clots on both lungs.[102]

Honours[edit]

Individual
with Halifax Town
with Fulham
with Birmingham City
with West Bromwich Albion
with Port Vale

Statistics[edit]

As a player[edit]

Data is missing before the 1996–97 season with Halifax Town.

Club League Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Halifax Town Conference 1996–97[103] 24 9 0 0 4[a] 0 28 9
Conference 1997–98[104] 40 30 4 4 3[b] 0 47 34
Third Division 1998–99[105] 10 7 0 0 4 1 0 0 14 8
Fulham Second Division 1998–99[18] 28 15 6 2 0 0 0 0 34 17
First Division 1999–2000[18] 31 7 3 1 6 6 0 0 40 14
Birmingham City First Division 2000–01[25] 34 7 1 0 6 4 2[c] 1 43 12
First Division 2001–02[25] 41 11 1 0 3 0 3[c] 1 48 12
Premier League 2002–03[25] 31 5 0 0 2 0 0 0 33 5
Premier League 2003–04[25] 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
Wigan Athletic First Division 2003–04[106] 16 7 0 0 1 0 0 0 17 7
West Bromwich Albion First Division 2003–04[47] 20 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 21 7
Premier League 2004–05[47] 29 3 2 0 1 1 0 0 32 4
Premier League 2005–06[47] 18 4 1 0 1 0 0 0 20 4
Sheffield United (loan) Championship 2005–06[107] 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
Sheffield United Premier League 2006–07[107] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Leeds United (loan) Championship 2006–07[108] 14 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 15 2
Leicester City (loan) Championship 2006–07[109] 13 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 2
Sheffield United Championship 2007–08[107] 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 2 1
Scunthorpe United (loan) Championship 2007–08[110] 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 0
Lincoln City League Two 2008–09[111] 17 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 17 1
Port Vale League Two 2009–10[112] 9 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 12 0
a. ^ One game in the West Riding County Cup, one in the West Riding Senior Cup and two in the FA Trophy
b. ^ Games in the FA Trophy
c. ^ Games in the First Division play-offs

As a manager[edit]

Team From To Matches Won Drawn Lost Win %
Port Vale (caretaker) 30 December 2010 6 January 2011 2 1 0 1 50.00

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