2019/20 Season Review by Jim Rosser

        THE COBBYDALERS 2019-20 A Summary

            The Cobbydalers 2019-20 was one of the most disrupted seasons ever, with the league finally ending on  March 14th  2020,  due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The Cobbydalers had moved from the North West Counties Football League, where they had played since 2004-05, to the North Counties East League Toolstation Premier Division.

          Pre-season wasn’t a great success with all five games lost with 23 goals conceded and only six scored. An opening fixture away at Penistone Church, who had finished runners-up to Worksop Town in the 2018-19 season,  looked a tall order especially without Dan Illingworth, Josh Brown and Matty Moses at the back. Danny Forrest had instilled in his squad the need to keep possession and play as much football on the ground as possible. Goals from new boy Khurram Shazad and Aidan Kirby saw the Reds home with Penistone netting a consolation goal in the dying minutes.

          Next up was the F.A. Cup and a tricky tie at Northwich Vics who had beaten Silsden 3-0 early in the competition in the previous year, before failing to get to Wembley after a semi-final replay.  A stoppage time penalty earned Silsden a replay which they lost 4-3 in a thrilling encounter, the visitors netting the winner with four minutes left on the clock.

          A 2-1 home victory against Maltby Main was followed by a defeat in the FA Vase at Newton Aycliffe. Silsden weren’t at their best but, in an even game, they lost 2-1 having a goal disallowed late on by the referee’s assistant.

          The following Saturday, fourth-placed Garforth Town were the visitors. Forrest had brought in two young trainees from Halifax Town, Jay Benn and Jake Taylor.  It was an even game played on the deck with lots of slick movement from both sides but the game changed when Garforth’s Joe Colley handled in the area. Aidan Kirby netted from the spot before Taylor netted two and Illingworth another before the half time whistle. Kirby scored another two in the opening minutes of the second half and the Benn opened his account with twenty minutes left. Illingworth conceded a penalty but no one could deny the home side, who had thrilled their fans.

          An evening trip to Barton on Humber followed. After the euphoria of the game on Saturday, Silsden were brought back down to earth by a smart Barton outfit. The Swans hadn’t started the season well but were soon on the offensive. Illingworth and Brown, at the back, were under constant pressure from Tom Waudby and Ben Hinchcliffe, the former setting up the latter for an early goal. The Silsden centre-backs managed to hold their ground until the break. In the meantime, Ben Wignall, deputising for Kirby, suffered a head injury and was replaced by Forrest.

          Silsden began the second half on the offensive but the home defence stood firm. Five minutes after the restart Silsden were down to ten men when Brown was dismissed for a late tackle on Craig Disley, which could have been a lot worse in different circumstances.  Matt Plummer was sent off for his reaction in the melee which ensued following the tackle. Four minutes later, Bentham was lucky to receive only a caution after his rash challenge on Disley.

          For a short period the players lost the plot. Barton were in an attacking position. Darke was the next to transgress. A dangerous tackle only received a caution but the keeper was badly injured and had to be replaced by Ben Higginson. Darke was out for almost the whole season!

          Fortunately the players realised this was a game of football. The Swans netted a second.  Mitchell kept driving the Cobbydalers forwards. A goalmouth scramble saw three efforts blocked on the Swans’ goal line.   Late on, Illingworth was pushed up front but the home side got a third in stoppage time, Godard slipping the ball past the isolated Silsden keeper.

         It was on to Maltby Main on Saturday. Kirby returned up front and Higginson began his season in goal. Liam Hudson replaced the suspended Brown. With a new centre back and keeper, there was uncertainty at the back and Main took advantage netting after nine minutes. Kirby was the Cobbydalers main outlet. Four times he broke through a square defence but neither luck nor perhaps composure were on his side.  He shot marginally over, narrowly wide, into the side netting, and even grazed the far post just before the interval.

          In the meantime Higginson had let a low shot squirm under his body. Hudson failed to track his man late in the game and the Cobbydalers went home pointless losing three-nil.

          The losing run continued, firstly with a 5-0 thrashing at home by Yorkshire Amateurs. The opening exchanges were fairly even but the Ammies defence was uncompromising, getting men behind the ball quickly whenever Silsden broke forwards. They took the lead ten minutes before the interval, sat back and hit the shell-shocked Cobbydalers on the break.

          Liversedge were the next visitors to the Cobbydale Construction Stadium. Danny Forrest brought in new signing Marko Basic, who had spent two years as an apprentice at Halifax Town, whilst Mark Everingham came in at left back. Basic netted an impressive opener in the fifteenth minute but the visitors levelled two minutes later.

          Silsden dominated much of the remainder of the half, with youngsters Jay Benn and Jake Taylor showing their metal and with some of the best football seen in the season to date.

          It had been an exhilarating twenty minutes of pressure on the visitors but without reward. In the final five minutes of the half, Liversedge managed to string some passes together. Silsden totally dominated the early exchanges of the second half and were only denied by some cynical tackles. Unfortunately they conceded two late goals, both to set pieces, but at least the fans could see progress and commitment.

          A break from the League came by way of a County Cup game at Barlick. The Cobbydalers were rocked in the first minute with a goal from Reece Barrett. From then on it was a pulsating local derby with chances created at both ends. The Cobbydalers had an equaliser ruled out for offside before Ric Sear settled the argument with a goal in the dying minutes. It was a full-blooded cup-tie and, although the Cobbydalers had lost, there with many positives, with most players getting much closer to their best.

          On to the reverse fixture at Liversedge. The home-side, who were aiming to move to the top of the table, opened their account in the fourth minute with Joe Walton firing home. Silsden were rattled as high balls were pumped into the goal area. They gradually settled with Josh Kaine  and Dan Illingworth keeping “Sedge” at bay. Their confidence led to Sorhaindo slotting in the Jay Benn’s perfect cross ten minutes before the break.

          The second half was much more even with chances coming at both ends. Substitutes Khurram Shazad and Aidan Kirby came on. Shazad immediately set up Kirby who fired over.  Five minutes later, in a reprise, Kirby hit the side netting. A further slick passing move ended with Taylor having a shot saved.

          At the other end Kaine and Illingworth both broke up attacks. Josh Brown came on and immediately cleared off the line before a long throw-in was headed on. In a packed box Benn blocked a shot but JACKSON fired home from close range in stoppage time.  It was a cruel blow for the Cobbydalers, who had fought so hard and had played such good football.

          Heads were down after the defeat to a late goal but it was clear that the Cobbydalers were beginning to adapt to the more direct football they were experiencing in the NCEL. 

          Next up a trip to Goole. The “Vikings” were on a ten match winless run, whilst the Cobbydalers has lost their previous seven!

          Silsden took the lead on fifteen minutes when Bentham’ dipping volley was fumbled by Callum Fielding. Lawrence Sorhaindo followed up to slot it home. The Vikings levelled ten minutes later, Ben Higginson failing to hold on to Niah Jayne’s shot. Schofield had a simple tap-in. Neither side could create clear cut chances until, ten minutes later, when Khurram Shazad slid the ball to Sorhaindo who blasted it over the bar.

          Two minutes later the Vikings were level, after a bout of pinball in the Silsden area. The Cobbydalers responded but were denied by the woodwork. Shazad hit the bar then Basic’s low shot rebounded off the near post! The ball was quickly cleared and Silsden were stretched. Faulkner netted a second for the Vikings. The scoreline was rather harsh on the Cobbydalers, who started the second half with Basic setting up Taylor, who cut into the box but shot agonisingly wide.

          Illingworth went close with a header at one end before he was beaten in the air in the Silsden penalty area by Payne on fifty-six minutes. Marco Basic netted a second for the visitors in stoppage time but it was another game the Cobbydalers should have won.

          A midweek game at Knaresborough, was a turning point with the Cobbydalers running out 4-2 winners with Sorhaindo netting a brace (against  Sammy Lee in the Boro goal), adding to goals for Basic and Kirby. The next Saturday was blank… Bridlington having made progress in the F.A. Vase.

          A double header against Albion Sports followed. The first game at Throstle Nest was a pulsating derby. Kirby put the Cobbydalers ahead early-on slotting home Joe Mitchell’s cut-back. The Lions equalised with goals either side of the break. Barnes pulled a goal back early in the second half but Aldrich restored the lead three minutes later. Kirby netted a second after sixty-six minutes. Both side stretched every sinew to win the game but a three-three draw was a fair result.

          The following week at Silsden the match ended in a one-one draw. The game was end to end with Silsden just shading it and going ahead through Taylor, in the twenty-second minute after good work by Everingham. However, in the ninetieth minute, Albion were harshly awarded a free kick on the left hand corner of the Silsden box for a foul against Brown that appeared to be a perfectly good tackle. Substitute Jordan Chippendale struck his free kick low, but it took a wicked deflection off the defensive wall up and beyond the helpless Higginson to level the scores, against the run of play.

          Next was a trip to Mansfield on a wet, windy night. The Bulls’ danger man,  Duggan, chased down a long ball to put the home side one up on the stroke of half-time.  Webster made it two early in the second half but a spirited fightback by the Cobbydale saw them go home with a share of the points, with goals from Sorhaindo and Everingham (in the last minute). Danny Forrest was delighted with the fight-back.

          After three consecutive draws in the league, Silsden finally went on a winning run. In a well-supported derby against Eccleshill they went behind to an early goal from the visitors, who continued to dominate the first half. After a half time “rocket” from manager Danny Forrest the Cobbydalers came out with much more purpose and in the 62nd minute got back on terms with a goal from Taylor. Seven minutes later a dangerous ball from Sorhaindo was flicked into his own net by former Cobbydaler, Talent Ndlovu. The Cobbydalers held out thanks to a goal-post….Ndlovu’s shot deflecting wide. Kaine thwarted Hey in the dying minutes and the Cobbydalers had three points!

          A three-one away win in the League Cup at Bridlington with goals from Britton, Wademan and Shazad was followed by another long trip on Saturday to Bottesford, where Liam Hudson came in for Josh Kaine who fell ill on leaving Silsden.

          The Cobbydalers maintained their recent form with a 3-1 win with goals from Liam Hudson and Laurence Sorhaindo who netted a brace.

          The Cobbydalers next game at home was cancelled after heavy rain, most unusual even with the winter deluges as the drainage is excellent even when the valley is flooded. A blockage between the ground and the River Aire seemed to be the culprit.

          The rain continued incessantly for a week but Silsden were back in business the week after with a 2-2 draw at Thackley. Sorhaindo, who was always Silsden’s best outlet, put them ahead on twelve minutes. Silsden began to take control but they couldn’t add to their score and eventually Ryan Basi headed a ball over Higginson into the top corner of the net. A minute later Silsden were back in the lead when Sorhaindo crossed into the box and Britton blasted it home.

          Asa Mitchell hit a screamer into the Silsden net on sixty-five minutes to level the scores. Neither side could get a winner as fatigue crept in on a very heavy surface.


          The final game of 2019 was a trip to second-placed Hemsworth, a journey last made pre- the North West Counties era! It turned out to be a cracker, the Cobbydalers taking the promotion hopefuls to the wire in a compelling game.

          Danny Forrest was forced to make two changes with Dan Illingworth and Liam Hudson unavailable. Luckily Mark Everingham had recovered from injury and the experienced Craig Bentham returned to the starting line-up. Roared on by a raucous, partisan crowd, The Miners were swiftly on the offensive, Josh Brown having to concede a corner in the second minute.  Brown headed clear before Arley Barnes broke up another attack, these being the two stand-out players in the Silsden team.

          Brown was superb at the back heading clear on numerous occasions and blocking shots. The Miners went in front on eight minutes with Viggars heading home. Then Parker picked up the clearance and got the better of Barnes before shooting over. It was probably the only time the skipper was beaten in the whole game!

          The Miners were launching long balls down the field, hoping for knock-ons but Brown was commanding in the air and Barnes’ reading snuffed out several promising moves.  The whole team responded with some rapid counter attacks and a “they shall not pass” mind-set. Five minutes before the break the Cobbydalers played the ball across the back in a series of fifteen passes before they broke swiftly. Britton sent Shazad free but his shot was cleared before Silsden got a penalty.

          The home fans were silenced on the stroke of half-time when Brown levelled the scores, heading home from a corner. Brown repeated the move twenty minutes into the second half to put the Cobbydalers in the lead! Was an upset on the cards? Three minutes later the goal hero made his one mistake trying to dribble the ball out of goal area under pressure from the Miners’ forwards, rather than conceding a corner. Viggars netted from close range.

          Higginson made two fine saves and Barnes and Brown continued to hold back the tide, ably helped by teammates. It wasn’t quite enough as Carroll netted a third fifteen minutes from time. Mitchell, the midfield pocket-rocket set up Jake Taylor in the dying minutes. His shot was just wide

          It had been a superb game, flowing from one end to the other. There was some thrilling football from both sides. Silsden demonstrated that the gap between the top and mid table is not vast, with probably their best performance of the season. Unfortunately the Virus prevented the rematch.

ON TO 2020!  

 The Cobbydalers were playing their first home game since November 16th, having had their only home match in that period postponed.

          In the last fortnight  manager Forrest had lost right-back  Jay Benn who has been offered an 18 month contract at Halifax AFC (with the Cobbydalers best wishes), Aidan Kirby, who has joined Campion, Mark Everingham for a month, with hamstring problems and Dan Illingworth, who was hoping to be fit for next Saturday. In the meantime Forrest had signed 20 year old Myles Foley, who had had a spell at Ossett United, and Dan Hill, who has returned after trying his luck at Hyde United.

          The visitors, Barton, were soon on the front foot with Ellis Barkworth breaking down the right flank and crossing into the Silsden box. Waide Fairhurst rose above the defence to head powerfully but Ben Higginson, in the Silsden goal, denied him with an excellent save. Some neat two-touch football saw the Cobbydalers advance forwards but the ball was cleared up the field. Hinchliffe broke down the left and crossed into the box. Jack Richardson headed home the opener on nine minutes. 

          The visitors did make it two, two minutes before the break. Left back Neil Burdett broke down the left and squeezed past Kaine on the goal line before driving home from a narrow angle.

          The second-half! The wind strengthened, the rain came down horizontally, control was difficult for the attackers who overhit too many passes or gave defenders too much time to get behind the ball.  Joe Mitchell worked tirelessly in midfield but the forwards couldn’t master the conditions. North made it 3-0 on sixty-two minutes.

          Mitchell and Barnes worked hard to set up attacks, but only Sorhaindo offered any kind of threat, the keeper denying him on two occasions. Josh Brown went close in the dying minutes and Riches tipped a Sorhaindo header over the bar.

          The following Saturday the Cobbydalers travelled to Garforth for the return fixture, having won their corresponding home game 7-1. Silsden were without the experienced Barnes, Illingworth, regular left back Everingham and Ben Higginson in goal. Eighteen year olds Daniel Hill (centre back) and Jake Fairlie (goal) were among a young side.

          The young Silsden keeper was soon in the action, superbly saving Dan Coupland’s header after Joe Colley had crossed from the right. Kaine and Josh Brown kept the home side at bay before Sam Barker opened the scoring with a screamer from twenty-five yards out. With five minutes left before the break, a mix-up between Kaine and Liam Hudson let in Marshall to notch the second. Leach made it three on the stroke of half time.  The two youngsters performed well and Danny Riley, after several years in the USA and Spain, added some pace but, despite Mitchell’s attempt to drive the team forwards, there was a lack of movement up front.

           A bumper crowd were at the Cobbydalers Construction Stadium for the visit of Knaresborough, to celebrate all the work done for the club by the recently deceased John McNulty. The programme had memories about John, a Liverpool fan, and the players came onto the field to “You’ll never walk alone” before a minute’s applause took place.

          Once again the Cobbydalers were without key players as they failed again to score against a team below them in the table. Their home record then read 3 wins, 1 draw and 5 defeats, goals for 14 (7 of which were in one game) and goals against 19.

          Greg Anderson headed in the opener on twenty-nine minutes.

The game was scrappy and it was easy to see why both sides were struggling in the bottom half of the table, as too many passes went astray and half chances were squandered. Mitchell set up Britton for a header but the keeper gathered easily.

          Forrest came on to try to add a spark to proceedings but Town’s back line of five were closing down quickly.  They almost netted a second but Carrs’ free-kick bounced on the Silsden crossbar. Four minutes later the visitors took total control, Colin Heath powerfully heading a second from a Youhill free-kick.

          There was a late response from the Cobbydalers with Forrest setting up substitute Luke Hudson, whose shot hit the side netting. Barnes and Illingworth, up for a corner, were denied by Smith before Hudson hit the side netting again in stoppage time.

          The recent defeats have left the players lacking in confidence. With two more home games in the week, Forrest was praying for the speedy recovery of his injured players but also a response from the rest of the team.

                    Silsden entertained Athersley Recreation at the Cobbydale Construction Stadium on the following Tuesday. After a day of heavy rain showers, it looked as if there might have been another postponement but the surface was fine. Once again a strong wind from the west was the main problem for the teams. Athersley had made some improvement in recent games having had a disastrous start to the season.

          The visitors played “with the wind” in the first half but, with the long ball catching on the wind, it wasn’t much of an advantage.   When Silsden were under pressure, Kaine was supreme at the back and Trueman, re-signed with so many injuries, cleared up in mid-field with composure, nothing flashy, just skillful reading of the game, taking the sting out of attacks and maintaining possession.

          Silsden were soon on the attack after the interval.  Finally, the opener came with Trueman’s corner being headed home by right back Miles Foley.

          A mention here must be made of the young left back Connor Thompson who had won the corner. With Mark Everingham injured, Silsden had struggled to find a full back who would support the attack as well as giving them another option. Thompson started off the move which eventually led to Silsden’s second goal, fully deserved, by Sorhaindo on 83 minutes. Athersley did make a last effort to pull a goal back but there was Kaine to clear the ball.     

           For the third time in a week the Cobbydalers’ home game, against Handsworth, was played in a gale. Fortunately the home side managed it well despite not scoring with the wind in their “favour”? Indeed their second half performance showed how much easier it was to play against the elements. Silsden controlled the opening half creating several chances. Britton fired over the bar, Shazad brought a spectacular save from Townsend. Illingworth headed over and the keeper denied both Shazad again and Barnes.

           The visitors might have expected to dominate the second half but the Cobbydalers took control with a high back line and some slick passing and possession. Foley went on a run to the by-line in the opening minutes. He crossed to Barnes who shot low. The wind just took it off target and Luke Hudson, on for Britton, just failed to get a touch on it. However, a minute later, Silsden took the lead with Sorhaindo slipping the ball past Townsend after a powerful run.

          Handsworth failed to master Silsden’s high defensive line with several balls reaching the Silsden keeper on the wind or going out of play.

          Silsden had several chances but couldn’t convert them. They might have rued not getting a second but Anthony Mackie’s free-kick, on the edge of the penalty area, sailed over the bar and Higginson made a fine save to deny Harry Mitchell. The Cobbydalers should have made it two when Taylor and Shazad broke clear to the edge of the area. With only the keeper to beat, they wasted the golden opportunity.

          With ten minutes left Danny Riley came on for Shazad. He epitomised Silsden’s resolve chasing back to his own goal area to deny Handsworth. It was like the “ALAMO”. Illingworth was magnificent in defence, Liam Hudson headed clear, Joe Mitchell blocked a low shot.  Taylor was back to deny Handsworth another chance before running through the length of the field to seal the victory with a slick shot.

          Consecutive wins certainly gave the team a morale boost before the away game at Yorkshire Ammies, who were third in the table. Silsden attacked from the off. Barnes hit an excellent volley but it was just wide of the far post. The Cobbydalers thought they had taken the lead on ten minutes when Liam Hudson set up Dan Illingworth who headed home. However the whistle went for an infringement. A minute later Sorhaindo headed on to Jake Taylor, who saw his powerful shot well saved by Edward Wilcznski.

          There was some excellent attacking play from the Cobbydalers but the hero of the day was Ben Higginson who made a string of fine saves.

          However the pressure eventually told when a corner was swung in. Dempsey’s scissors kick rattled the bar and Foggarty volleyed home. Khurram laid a ball back to Connor Thompson but the full back’s shot cleared the bar before his own effort shaved the outside of the post. Higginson was soon in the action again tipping Fogarty’s shot over the bar and then saving a header from Savoury at the near post.

          Chris Wademan, who had come on for Taylor, stunned the home support, latching onto a through ball and outpacing two defenders before netting the equaliser seventeen minutes from time. Two more saves by Higginson made sure that the points were shared. It had been a pulsating game and further evidence that the Cobbydalers are gelling together well.

          Next up it was an evening trip to table-topping Staveley Miners Welfare. The Trojans were on the attack from the kick-off with leading-scorer Michael Burke crossing from the right. Josh Kaine managed to clear for a corner which was headed out by Dan Illingworth. The initial pressure was intense, Connor Thompson clearing up Staveley’s next sortie forwards.

          Staveley were intent on using the log-ball for attackers to run onto but the Silsden defence held firm. In contrast Silsden were more composed with quick pass and move football. The home side made too many errors in the final third and the Cobbydalers eventually took the lead on twenty-eight minutes. Shazad ran onto the defence-splitting pass from Sorhaindo.  Although tracked by a defender, he cut across the goal, dragged the ball back, cut inside and slid the ball home.

          Four minutes later the Cobbydalers made it two. Taylor and Shazad combined to open up the defence again and Sorhaindo capitalised on some confusion between Staveley’s goalkeeper and defenders to roll the ball in to an empty net. The Cobbydalers managed to withstand an onslaught from the Trojans, clearing three efforts before Shazad had a shot blocked at the other end and Luke Foley went close after a strong run from the back. Phew!

          With the wind at their backs the Trojans put the Cobbydalers under intense pressure at the start of the second half but Yorkshiremen held their own until leading-scorer, Burke pulled a goal back.

          Superb defending from Connor denied an equaliser before Silsden broke away. Encapsulating all that was good, Taylor and Sorhaindo broke forwards to set up Shazad, to make it three. Burke did his best to rally the Trojans but the Cobbydalers were not to be denied.

          Kaine and Illingworth were superb at the back. Mitchell, the midfield dynamo, was outstanding and the touch, pace and inter-action of the front three was a joy to watch.  But in reality this was a fantastic team effort.

         Following Wednesday’s victory at League leaders Staveley, the Cobbydalers travelled to fourth place Bridlington. This was one of only three games in the NECFL Premier Division due to the weather. The pitch was fine and many of the Cobbydalers fans had travelled to the Costa del Yorkshire for the game.

          The first half was an even encounter with neither side able to dominate but ten minutes before the break the Cobbydalers were, rather fortuitously, awarded a penalty. Taylor netted.

         Although Silsden, as a unit, were struggling to create many openings the skipper was superb. In a five minute spell Kaine twice blocked shots from Billy Logan at the expense of two corners and one effort from McFadyen. The equaliser came midway through the second half, another “soft” penalty.

          After two tough matches in six day, the Cobbydalers tired but thankfully Sorhaindo still had the energy to latch onto a long ball to burst past Benn Lewis and strike home off the inside of the far post. With five minutes to go Illingworth conceded a free kick on the edge of the box. Waudby hit a screamer into the top corner.

         A draw looked on the cards but with the last kick of the game Sorhaindo hit a looping volley over the Brid keeper………………..it hit the crossbar! A draw it was!

         The Cobbydalers’ fans had enjoyed their day out at the seaside, many of whom had stayed on overnight, maybe to have a dip in the sea on Sunday morning!

           Next up was Goole at home, a team who had lost nine games on the run. How the Cobbydalers didn’t win this game is a mystery. They had so many chances but were profligate, particularly in the second half.

          The Cobbydalers produced numerous chances. When Liam Hudson sent a defence-splitting ball through to Taylor, Kelsey denied him at the expense of a corner. Kelsey’s next save was at full-stretch denying Shazad, who had woven his way through the defence with a couple of dips of the shoulder.  Foley’s powerful shot from the corner went straight into the keeper’s hands! Barnes and Britton had shots off target, Wademan went close on several occasions, Foley headed over as the Vikings packed their defence. In the dying minutes Wademan put Barnes in the clear. He delayed and the chance went begging. Hancock fired over as the final whistle went.

          What turned out to be the last game of the season was a trip to Worksop against Handsworth. The heavy rain and strong winds of the Cobbydale Construction Stadiums’ last encounters were totally absent on a pitch which was bone dry. Sandy Lane by name and by nature! The only negative was the high and irregular bounce on the hard surface.

          The game was end to end with some good movement from both sides. However it was the Cobbydalers took the lead with a classic move.  Britton broke from the halfway-line, back heeled the ball to Shazad who cut the ball across for Wademan to drive it home from a tight angle. A superb run from Everingham nearly brought a second before Barnes’s through-ball caught on the wind.

          In the final quarter of the game both teams had half chances. Britton’s low effort lacked venom whilst Higginson saved Eagle’s volley at the near post. Corners came at both ends but, with Illingworth imperious in the air and Higginson showing a safe pair of hands, the Cobbydalers held out.

The season finished! The Cobbydalers missing out on three away matches and nine at home.

          The Analysis. The Cobbydalers finished the shortened season in tenth place. Last season in the NWCFL they had finished ninth! In many ways it was a learning curve. Over the season Silsden had to adapt their style of play towards a more direct and physical game. There were inconsistences with the team with some excellent performances against the top six of the table but some poor ones against teams in the bottom half. The weather was also a problem with blank Saturdays being disruptive in maintaining the pattern of play. Early exits from the FA Cup and Vase were disappointing. Towards the end of the season there was more optimism. Danny and Craig worked hard to get a settled pattern of play.  

Indeed, in a report near the “end of the season” I wrote      

         “Danny and his management team are delighted with the way the team is developing. The players have worked very hard recently. It’s been good to see players gaining in confidence and looking more comfortable on the ball. With nine home matches to play and only three away hopefully the Cobbydalers can make a significant move up the table.”

         The Cobbydalers are lucky to have Danny and Craig, who have such experience and knowledge of the game at various levels. With the help of the experienced, Clive Murgatroyd, Quasim Akhtar, Tom Higman, Byron Whalley and Kevin Knappy, who has been with the club since representing them in the Nineteen Eighties! Kevin also stands in to do the reports when required. Physio Andy Henson unfortunately left the club to take up an appointment at Port Vale. However he did turn up to see The Reds at Staveley Miners towards the end of the season!

         Although the U23’s season has been disrupted even more than the first team, U23’s is vital for keeping players fit who are on the fringe of the first team or those who are in the process of recovering from injury.

         Of the players Ben Higginson, standing in for Alfie Darke in goal, although struggling early on, settled into the role and produced some excellent performances. His man-of the match award at Yorkshire Ammies was fantastic. In the absence of the long-serving Matty Moses, for the whole season, at right back, the versatile Liam Hudson gradually got to grips with the position.

         At the back Illingworth, Kaine and Everingham were joined by Josh Brown. Josh had last played for the Cobbydalers four years ago but a serious injury, which was followed by a relapse, almost ended his playing career. With rehabilitation with Whitestar, he was able to rebuild his career this season. Injuries to Everingham allowed young Connor Thompson to step up to the senior side. He made an immediate impact.

         The versatile Arley Barnes and Joe Mitchell have been the stalwarts in midfield, chipping in with a few goals. They were joined at the beginning of the season by Khurram Shazad, a tricky midfielder who has settled well and produced some excellent goals. Up front Lawrence Sorhaindo has been a regular goal scorer, after joining the Cobbydalers towards the end of the previous season. Chris Wademan, after returning from Australia in November, was used mainly as an effective substitute. I think many fans were disappointed when Aidan Kirby left the club, especially having scored eight goals in the first seven games. “A real hard worker and a real Cobbydaler” who moved on after his game-time was reduced.

         Youngsters Jake Taylor and Jay Benn joined from Halifax and made an immediate impact in the 7-1 victory over Garforth. Both were regulars in the team until Benn was offered a one and a half year contract at the Town. Other new arrivals were Mattias Britton, Dan Hill, Josh McKiernon and Marko Basic.


         The Club was saddened by the death of “Mr. Silsden”, John McNulty in December. John, who was born in 1941, spent many an hour at the club, particular being proud of the pitch. His funeral was witnessed by players and fans going back to the eighties (p.s. He is still waiting for his beloved Liverpool to be crowned Champions!) Also as the season came to a premature end, David Brett died suddenly at the age of 62. David had been the clubs photographer since the nineties. The club will struggle to find someone so modest and professional to replace him.

         The club also mourned former players Mark Price at the age of 46 and Tom Marshall at the age of 25. Joe Gaughan, who was born on the same day as Tom, ran ten kilometres on 47 days to raise funds. The funds raised will go into a trust fund for Tom’s son, 16 month old Bowie. The Cobbydalers had “A pay as much as you want” day to swell Joe’s fund.

         Finally to end on a positive note the Cobbydaler’s ground is having a makeover.

            The Cobbydalers received the brilliant news from the Football Association on Monday 6th April that they had been awarded a £100,000 grant for ground development. This, along with the money which has been raised over the past few years for ground upkeep and improvements, will allow the club to replace several old and damaged buildings.

         Barry Thomas, who has worked tirelessly over the last year, was the co-ordinator of the bid for funds for ground improvements, eventually sending a clear outline of the improvements, repairs and costs required to bring the facilities up-to scratch to the F.A. on December 28th 2019.

         It had been obvious for several years that several structures were getting near the end of their useful life and had deteriorated significantly over the recent months of sustained inclement weather.

         Among the buildings to be replaced is the “John McNulty Stand”, a wooden structure built in 1936 with old railway sleepers as a foundation. The stand now has dry rot, wet rot and woodworm and the under pinning has been compromised with the same problems.

         Next on the list was the old tea hut and hospitality unit, an old porta-cabin purchased decades ago, now unused for the past two years due to a leaking roof and wet rot in the floor. Behind this are two storage containers which, over a period of thirty years plus, have been moved several times as the club developed. These will be replaced by a single thirty foot unit, which will have three compartments with separate doors.

         The ticket office, whose roof collapsed in March, is beyond repair. It had acted in the last thirty years as a changing room! a six-a-side control desk! a referees changing area! a store room and a ground-workers unit. Indeed when our area Football Association representative saw our ticket office, he condemned it immediately before seeing the other structures.

         Along with the above improvements the club is to have a new covered terrace behind the top goals backing onto the club house.

         Silsden AFC are also pleased to announce that all the building electrical and joinery work will be carried out by local builders and contractors, Cobbydale Construction, Danny Clarke Building and Groundwork Services and Shane Parker Building Solutions. The club is indebted to them all for their input and patience over the past months.

         The project will be managed by Andy Consoli along with Stephen Edwards of Cobbydale Construction. Andrew Phillips will be the Accounts manager.

         The start of the project depends upon the Government’s view of the coronavirus pandemic in relation to the construction industry but, with the Football season cancelled, the club is ready for the project to go ahead.

         So, exciting times at the Cobbydale Construction Stadium and a legacy our current committee can leave to Silsden for generations to come, continuing the dreams and expectations of our famous club founder, Dr. John Purcell, who, in 1904 envisaged health and outdoor activities every hour of the day for the people of Silsden.

         Finally to the Committee who have worked tirelessly to push the club forwards. Lots of the work goes un-noticed but no club works without the people behind the scenes. President Barry Thomas has already been mentioned for his work on the new developments. However he is always alert to ways of making improvements or sourcing out new grants. Chairperson Sean McNulty’s main role is looking after the pitch. That speaks for itself. Vice –Chairman John Lohan looks after the club house, John Barclay and Rob Marchini share the Secretary’s job (Lots of paperwork!). Pete Hanson, General Secretary, Gateman, Programmes editor and printer! Safety Officer Eddie Sessford, Development Officers Andy Consoli and Stephen Narey, Club Treasurer Angela Simpson and Press Officer, Jim Rosser, Andy Little and Danny and Craig make up the team. New to the committee this year is Andrew Phillips who really epitomises the committee. Everyone “mucks-in” with cleaning up, repainting, providing food and drinks, and at the moment dismantling the defunct buildings at the ground etc. The club is always on the look-out for new grafters! If I have missed anyone out apologies!

         A massive thank-you must also go to “Team bus driver”, Tim Maude.

         Finally, a huge thank you to all our sponsors especially the main sponsor, Cobbydale Construction. Whether it has been for Advertising Boards or Adverts in the programme, sponsoring kit, players or matches etc. Thanks for buying golden goal tickets or raffle tickets…and supporting club functions…..every little helps. A special thanks from me to the “Chocolate Brigade” who are the top travellers to away game!

Who knows when we’ll be back playing but we hope you will all be there to cheer the Cobbydalers on.