John Lamb has returned to Bradford Park Avenue in time to take his place in goal for their Boxing Day derby trip to neighbours Guiseley (3pm).
The keeper was tempted out of retirement by manager John Deacey and his own love of the club he helped into Blue Square Bet North.
Lamb was the first person Deacey turned to when this season’s regular number one Tim Deasy picked up a long-term injury.
The veteran stopper said: “I can’t wait to play. I have hardly put my gloves on since the play-off win against FC United but I got a phone call from John and, after finding out Tim was injured, I couldn’t say no. I would do anything to help this club.”
Deasy collapsed in pain just into the second half of Avenue’s last game at Horsfall Stadium on Monday, December 17.
Deacey’s policy is not to have a back-up keeper on the bench and skipper James Knowles played a captain’s innings by stepping forward to don the gloves.
Knowles was unsure if it was bravery or foolhardiness, saying: “It was a matter of who would go in there. I wasn’t sure if John wanted me to do it and I was nervous.”
In the event he did well and could not be faulted for either of Gainsborough Trinity’s goals in their 2-0 win.
Deacey had to hatch a plan once the severity of Deasy’s knee injury became apparent. The Avenue boss said: “I asked Lamby to come back and he trained with us a couple of days later and looked sharp.
“He left at the end of last season because he was struggling with a back complaint.
“We have a very tight squad here and I don’t like to use up a place with a back-up goalkeeper because injuries to keepers in games are very rare.
“The last time we had a keeper on the bench was for the FA Cup tie at Doncaster and that was because you are allowed seven substitutes in that competition. We had Ben Higginson as back-up that day and he came on near the end.
“I have let him go since and he is playing for Farsley now. He is still registered with us but I didn’t want to go down the road of calling him back in.
“Farsley have been good with us by taking Ross Daly and Adam Clayton on loan, so I didn’t want to make things difficult for them.”
Lamb will need to be at his best for the first of the festive derby clashes. Guiseley are second in the table, having won 14 of their 18 starts to date. Avenue are fifth, still inside the play-off zone, but go into the game on the back of two defeats.
The loss to Gainsborough was the second by the same scoreline following the previous defeat at Worcester City, another promotion rival.
The holiday schedule is relentless as, after tomorrow, Avenue head to Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday and then host Guiseley in the return game on New Year’s Day, before welcoming leaders Chester on Saturday, January 5.