In the famous comic strip, Roy Race led Melchester Rovers to glory as their player-manager for over 20 years.
Harrogate Railway’s very own Roy of the Rovers- Paul Beesley- is flying in the face of a modern game that has largely consigned the dual role to the stuff of cartoon books.
The upturn in fortunes Beesley has presided over at Station View has only been matched by his own goalscoring heroics.
The former Harrogate Town frontman has now scored four in his last five games for a team fast climbing out of trouble in the Northern Counties East League premier division.
Beesley admits that, upon his arrival from Scarborough Athletic last month, he didn’t expect to be the main man in front of goal and in front of the tactics board.
“I wanted to always be on the bench and if I felt like I could influence a game, come on for the last 20 or 30 minutes,” he said.
“I do think I miss it when I don’t play.
“Whether it’s me in the future who knows, but the team needs a target man to hold the ball up and win headers.
“We look a lot better when we have a presence up there whether that’s me or someone else we bring in.
“When I’m playing and scoring goals, I’ll always pick myself!”
The Rail’s confidence is now visibly burgeoning but on his appointment the 32 year-old had to rebuild a team whose morale had been shattered.
Beesley’s task of constructing a new squad in his own image has not been an easy one.
“If I’m honest I did find it very difficult when I first came in, it was a struggling side,” he said.
“I released a few early on. There were some good players in the team that were left but confidence is such a massive thing in football.
“We’d been on the end of some bad results and when that happens any player is going to lack confidence but it was my job to come in, bring some players with me and get their heads up.
“I’m getting my side together slowly, I knew it was going to be that way,” he continued.
“In our first game we only had one player on the bench and a club like Harrogate Railway can’t be doing that.
“I think we’re progressing and slowly getting there.”
Based on their debuts in the 5-1 win over Maltby Main on Saturday- the first time Railway have hit five in two years- the recent signings of Fraser Hansen, Ben Thornton and Chris Fisher are fine bits of business.
But ask Beesley who his most important addition has been and he will credit a man who isn’t likely to take to the field again this season due to injury.
“I think the best signing I’ve made so far is Liam (Ormsby), my number two.
“I found it difficult on my own at the start but he’s been fantastic, putting fresh ideas in training and using his contacts to bring players in.
“Liam’s a great coach, he’s done some coaching at Leeds United, so he’s great to have around and we’re working well together.”
Ormsby is an accomplished midfielder himself but suffered a sickening leg injury playing alongside Beesley- who describes the offending challenge as ‘nasty’- for Scarborough Athletic earlier this season.
The former Tadcaster Albion man, who runs his own coaching business, is thriving in his backroom role.
“When Paul first called me about the role he made it clear that he has to be playing so I’m just here to take as much pressure off him as possible,” Ormsby said.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time so I can provide assistance, advice and if he needs players bringing in as well I can help.
“The signs are there and if we can get a bit of momentum going, anything can happen.”
Beesley’s nascent philosophy as a manager is clear; he favours 4-4-2- a direct approach- with quick wingers and strong centre-halves that is already reflected in the make-up of an evolving Rail team.
Momentum, a word used by Ormsby, will be key if the club want to establish the feel-good factor most recently in evidence under Billy Miller’s management.
Beesley has spent several spells at Station View over the years and is aware of the heights it can reach.
“It’s a club close to my heart and it’s got massive potential,” he said.
“We’ve got a good board; the chairman has said he’ll back me, he will back me even more than he already has if I need it.
“For now, we’ll carry on as we are, keep trying to improve which we will do. Once I get my own side in, I think we’ll be working our way up the league.”