Tractors, Sweden and a Jon Parkin roasting: The rise of Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell

"I think he did pretty well,” York City defender Hamza Bencherif told reporters moments after Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s debut for the Minstermen back in October 2017. “Especially when you consider the tractor.”

Sunday, 13th March 2022, 5:00 pm

It’s perhaps not the post-match appraisal the talented young goalkeeper might have predicted from one of the club’s senior players when he arrived only a few days earlier from Championship side Leeds United.

But settling his towel and water bottle into the netting at Leamington FC, a then 20-year-old Peacock-Farrell – now of course number one at Sheffield Wednesday – found himself just a couple of metres from a farmer tending to an adjoining field. He was close enough to wish him good afternoon.

With every respect to York and the sixth tier of English football, the Leeds youngster could have been forgiven for allowing himself a chuckle at the idea he’d joined a ‘farmer’s league’. It was a long way from the padded comforts of Thorp Arch and the Elland Road subs bench.

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

Sheffield Wednesday number one Bailey Peacock-Farrell enjoyed a short time on loan at York City.

What made the afternoon all the more character-building was the fact a Peacock-Farrell error contributed to a late Leamington equaliser as York, three seasons earlier losers in the League Two playoffs, drew 2-2.

It was a chastening experience for the youngster making only his second appearance in senior football after a sub outing at Leeds nearly 18 months earlier; one former Championship battering ram Jon Parkin, then a veteran centre-forward at York, handled the only way he knew how.

“I battered him in the changing room after, just to try cheer him up really,” he remembered in conversation with The Star. “I said, ‘Hell fire, where have we got this lad from?’

“I don’t know if that was the right thing to do but I was trying to make light of the situation that he’d dropped a clanger. He took it in good spirits to be fair.

“He’s gone on and done really well, bless him. It doesn’t really surprise me.

“He always had a good frame, he was a good shot-stopper and it was always going to be about learning his decision making. The more games he’s played the better he’s got on.”

It had been a difficult few months for the young goalkeeper, who had agreed with new Leeds boss Thomas Christensen it was time to go out on loan.

For one reason or another, an easy fit was hard to come by and a handful of opportunities – including a trial with Swedish second tier outfit Landskrona BoIS – came and went.

“The start of that season was a bit of a strange one,” Peacock-Farrell told The Star. “I was going to Oldham and it didn’t work out, I went out to Sweden but that didn’t happen and then I ended up at York for a few games.

“I couldn’t get a loan anywhere for whatever reason in the English leagues. We just couldn’t sort one out. The Oldham thing was a strange one; it was happening, then it was off, then it was on and Leeds decided to pull the plug for good reason.

“Sweden was just an opportunity that came up. I’m not one to turn down something out of the ordinary, I’m not afraid to try things. But it didn’t materialise and I came back and ended up with York.”

Though it was not a move by design at the outset of the season, a month with York proved to be a blessing in disguise that helped kickstart a career that has since blossomed full international honours.

Peacock-Farrell played only four matches for the Minstermen but left full of confidence and increased experience. Within a few months he was playing regularly in the Championship for Leeds.

“It wasn’t a great time for York,” Parkin said. “We’d gone down in the last minute of the last match of the season which wasn’t ideal. There was an atmosphere around the place.

“We ended up playing at grounds where at the start of the season I didn’t even know where they were in the country. That’s not me being big-time, there really were some clubs we didn’t know existed. Some of the grounds weren’t great and the crowds and that, but it’s your job. You have to get on with it.

“He first came in and the first thing I thought was that he had a great frame for a goalkeeper. He was quiet but seemed very confident and he got his head down.

“You don’t know what you’re going to get from a lad coming from a club higher up but he came in with the right attitude and saw it for what it was, it was a good opportunity for him to play a bit of first team football. He worked hard.”

Though understandably he seemed a little uncomfortable answering questions on his time with Wednesday’s great rivals, Peacock-Farrell laughed when The Star asked him whether the most recently departed Leeds boss – the one who made him a number one for the first time – was as ‘loco’ as has been made out.

‘Passionate’ is the adjective he went with to describe a man he owes the early stages of a first team career and subsequent move to the Premier League with Burnley.

“I went back to Leeds and got thrown in and ended up playing a bit in the rest of the season, then Marcelo Bielsa came in and I ended up as the number one,” he said.

“It was such a bizarre time really. But even though it was just four games [with York], playing at that level with that physicality was so much better for me than sitting and playing under-21s stuff.

“All those experiences, the loans, the ones that didn’t happen, they all gave me a good experience to draw upon. You can always draw upon those things and they can always help you.

“It made me a better keeper.”