Dave Seddon speaks to Chorley defender Scott Leather about the Magpies’ promotion to the National League and the early days of his career at Preston North End
Scott Leather’s day job as a lift engineer will naturally have its ups and downs, an analogy which fits very well with the emotions Chorley went through in being promoted to the National League.
Centre-half Leather, who earlier in his career played for Preston North End, was prominent in the Magpies’ promotion push.
He scored in the play-off final against Spennymoor at Victory Park, breaking the stalemate in extra-time.
As the ball hit the back of the net, Leather thought that would suffice to send Chorley up.
Spennymoor equalised within a couple of minutes and it needed penalties to decide the contest.
It was perhaps fitting that Chorley didn’t do it the easy way.
With two games to go of the regular season, they had automatic promotion in their own hands after a home victory over title rivals Stockport County.
They lost to Spennymoor in their next game, with that result handing the initiative to Stockport who went on to top the table.
So the play-offs it was for Jamie Vermiglio’s men, with them beating Altrincham in the semi-final – again after a penalty shoot-out – before beating Spennymoor.
“It was quite a season wasn’t it,” said 26-year-old Leather.
“We went toe-to-toe with Stockport and they just edged it in the end when it came to winning the title.
“To have beaten them and then to lose to Spennymoor in the next game was cruel.
“We got ourselves back together after that for the play-offs and I suppose it was ironic that we beat Spennymoor in the final.
“Personally speaking, it would have been nice had my goal been the winner in the final.
“But they went straight down the other end to equalise.
“It is often said you are at your most vulnerable when you’ve scored and that was the case here.
“We went to penalties and there’s no way I wanted to take one, I was 11th in the queue to take one!
“Fortunately some of the lads in front of me scored and our keeper MattyUrwin produced the goods.
“The last save when he got his hand up there was brilliant.
“I tried to chase him to celebrate but it was the fastest I’ve ever seen Matty run.”
The play-off win came at the end of Leather’s third season with Chorley.
He recently put pen to paper on a new contract to stretch his stay to a fourth season.
Leather’s football career started at Crewe Alexandra, before he moved to PNE.
“I was with Crewe until they released me when I was 16,” said Leather.
“Preston took me on trial and I did my scholarship with them over the next two years.
“Towards the end of the second season, I made my debut for Preston.
“They had been relegated and Phil Brown decided to have a look at a couple of the young lads.
“Danny Devine and I were picked for an away game with Ipswich.
“I played at right-back and Danny was in the centre of defence.
“Some of my family made the trip to watch me play and it was a big moment for all of us.
“I thought that I would be really nervous but I wasn’t at all, in fact I was buzzing to be involved.
“The next week I played against Watford at Deepdale in the final game of the season and we won that game.
“Conor McLaughlin and Bailey Wright were in the same age group as myself.
“Bailey plays international football for Australia and has been to a World Cup while I’m a lift engineer now.
“There were some good players at Preston when I was there, Neil Mellor, Jon Parkin for example.
“Danny Welbeck came on loan from Manchester United.
“When I was in the youth team coming through, it was Jamie Hoyland, Dean Ramsdale and Nick Harrison in charge of the youth set-up.
“They were great to work with and I’ll always be very grateful for the trust they put in me.
“I only had those two games for Preston and at the end of the following season, Graham Westley released me and lots of others.
“I signed for Altrincham after leaving Preston and stayed there until I went to Chorley.
“At Altrincham we got promoted to the National League and I had a great four years there.
“When we got relegated I decided it was the right time to move on.
“I knew a few of the lads at Chorley and bumped into them at Haydock Races one afternoon.
“It wasn’t long after that I signed for Chorley.
“The promotion we’ve just won, had been coming for a while.
“We’d lost twice in the play-offs so this proved to be third time lucky.”
Chorley will stay part-time in a National League which boasts plenty of big-hitters.
Leather is happy to do that, something he did when Altrincham made that step.
He said: “It’s all about getting the balance right.
“Ideally we’d all like to be professional footballers but we’ve got jobs away from the game which pay the bills.
“Training in Tuesday and Thursday nights and on those days I start my day job earlier and finish early, it’s something I’m used to.”