SILS MAKE DOUBLE SWOOP

The Cobbydalers have got their business underway for the upcoming season with two new signings. Jake Thompson and Antony Brown have signed for the club after plying their trade with Liversedge and Eccleshill United last season respectively.

Here is what the two new lads had to say after making the move to the Cobbydale Construction Stadium

Jake Thompson

“ I’m delighted to have signed for Silsden AFC. I have been made to feel very welcome from all the staff and the players. I’m very happy to be here. I can’t wait to work hard for the club and help us push on this coming season. The manager has high standards here and with the talent  we have already in the squad, I’m excited to see what we will achieve this season.”

Antony Brown

“ I’m really happy to be signing for Silsden for the upcoming season. I can’t wait to work hard for the team and see if we can progress from last season. I’ve been made to feel very welcome by everyone at the club and look forward to getting out there with the lads. The sooner the season starts the better!

Here is what Manager Danny Forrest had to say after the double swoop

“ I’m delighted to get both lads on board, they’ve been on our radar for some time. Jake is an exciting winger and Ant is a striker with bags of quality. Both have done well at this level and I’m sure our supporters will enjoy watching them play. Even during our initial conversations, both players showed a real desire to be with us and I’m really pleased we’ve been able to attract players of this calibre.”

We would also like to thank T.H. Roofing for the sponsor of Jake Thompson and also a big thank you to LJH Gas Services for the sponsor of Antony Brown.

Squad Update

Although uncertainty remains around the start of the 2020/21 season, NCEL clubs were allowed to register players from yesterday (Wednesday 1st July). Manager Danny Forrest gave us an update on how the Cobbydalers are shaping up, with the majority of last season’s squad returning for the 2020/21 campaign.


Goalkeepers Alfie Darke and Ben Higginson both return – Alfie, having suffered a serious knee injury last season comes back fully fit, while Ben will be looking to pick off where he left off last season ending the campaign in fine form.


Captain Josh Kaine stays for his fifth season and is fast approaching 200 appearances for the Cobbydalers, whilst fellow defenders Dan Illingworth and Mark Everingham will continue their invaluable contribution in to a fourth season. Connor Thompson and Myles Foley who have been brilliant since joining also commit to the Cobbydalers for the 2020/21 season.

Josh Brown returned to the club last season after a four year absence, but unfortunately suffered a serious knee injury back in February. Matty Moses is edging closer to a return after 11 months out. Both will be supported through their rehab by club physio Conner Docherty and we can’t wait to see them both back in contention.


Midfielders Arley Barnes, Joe Mitchell, Liam Hudson and Josh Mckiernon all stay, Mark Trueman and Kyle Hancock who both returned to the club towards the end of the 2019/20 season are back with the Sils for next season.


Going forward, Chris Wademan will continue in to a 10th year as a player for the club and attacking midfielder Khurram Shazad will look to continue his dazzling form in to the 2020/21 campaign. Matthias Britton who ended last season with a fantastic performance at Handsworth, Luke Hudson and Will Storrie all return. Promising youngster Robbie Fox will be looking to build on last season’s breakthrough while Luke Brooksbank will be hoping to make an impact after coming through the U23 set up. Danny Riley continues his affiliation with the club before a planned venture to the USA – whenever that may be!

Check back in the coming days and weeks for further squad updates including news of some new additions!

 

FEATURE I My Nepalese Adventure by Luca Marchini

My Nepalese Adventure

By Luca Marchini

In year 11 I completed the National Citizenship Scheme (NCS), a programme that brings 16 year olds from all over the country together on 2 weeks of training and 1 week of fundraising back in their own communities. My team’s fundraising was for Brooklands Community Special School in Skipton where we raised £700 in one week through a variety of initiatives. Brooklands used this donation to purchase some sensory music equipment for their playground.

The NCS experience influenced my decision to take a gap year before starting at university. I applied to work on an overseas project through the International Citizenship Scheme (the progression from NCS) in association with Raleigh International, a sustainable development charity that supports third world countries, specifically Tanzania and Nepal. I attended an assessment day in London where I was successful and selected for their 2020 projects. I decided I wanted to go to Nepal.

The Nepal project was a 12 week WASH (water & sanitation hygiene) programme which meant providing clean water to communities and training them in sanitation to stop water related diseases, such as cholera, which are prevalent in that area and can be fatal.

I had to raise a minimum of £1500 between October and January. Thinking back to my NCS experience I realised I would need a centrepiece fundraising event and I decided that would be a band night at Silsden AFC. I wanted the event in my community and as a player at Silsden from the age of 6 to 18 it made sense to ask Silsden Sports Club if I could use their facilities. I spoke with John Lohan (the Sports Club chairman) and Phil Lohan (the bar manager) and we booked the 18th January for the event. The support of the club, and particularly John and Phil, was amazing. They offered the venue and extended licence free of charge, and John even bought 10 tickets for the band night!

I introduced the event to get the evening going and then at the interval made a speech about what I was going to Nepal to do and why, which was nerve-racking in front of such a large audience.

Two local bands performed on the night for minimal expenses, Tom Lohan & Ben O’Hara supporting The Handsum Dogs. It was a fantastic night with over 100 attending during the evening and it was incredibly well supported by the people of Silsden with a number of Silsden AFC and Silsden Whitestar players attending.

The evening raised £900, which added to the £800 I had raised by the beginning of December through donations and other smaller events, taking my overall total to £1660, exceeding my target.

I arrived in Kathmandu on 6th February and went straight into a 5 day training programme which included safeguarding, water infrastructure, health and safety and cultural training. We also met the Nepalese volunteers we would be working with. After our training we moved to our bases where we would live and work for the next 12 weeks (if things had gone to plan!). We spent the first week getting to know the village and the people we would be living with. I was based in Bhitri Swarna, a remote community 5 hour drive from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

We immersed ourselves in the culture and tried to learn a little of the local languages, Nepalese and Temang, as well as their favoured pass times. Luckily for me, the favourite in the community was football. We also visited the local primary school, where we planned to conduct sessions in the future. Wherever we went, stares followed as for the majority of the population we were the first white people they’d ever seen. Particular attention followed my team leader and I as despite both only being around the 6 foot tall, we were easily the tallest people in the area, with the average height only being 5ft 1.

During this first week, a large portion of the time was spent conducting baseline surveys which identify the living conditions of the community (including how the houses had been affected by the 2015 earthquake), the usage of water and the personal beliefs behind the importance of sanitation; a significant part of the community believed that diarrhoea was caused by cold weather, which showed how important our work was going to be. This was only amplified when discovering the village on the best of days only had a 4 hour window of running water and if reservoir tanks higher up the pipeline were faulty, people could go days without water. During this initial week we also began planning sessions and trialling some, making important discoveries such as the villagers learning best through visual learning rather than lecturing, which was good as it allowed us English volunteers to be more involved.

Throughout our time in community, we worked practically every day, either by planning and conducting sessions or by digging holes for new latrines or for pipelines to be set. Our day off was on Tuesdays where we’d sometimes go for a walk, my favourite being near the start of the trip where we ventured through the jungle, despite the knowledge that tigers were most common in this part of Nepal (luckily no encounters occurred).

As well as this, my team collectively got through many books to pass the time as well as playing cards, mainly Uno and blackjack, and a fair amount of football. We also set up a volleyball pitch using bamboo and string and made two showers and a stone path from the river. When I say we, I mean Adon, who has a first class engineering degree (I usually just watched and moved a stone from time to time). In our spare time, usually in the evenings after tea, we helped the kids in their English studies, which was particularly important with their exams fast approaching. The funniest parts of these sessions were when the kids tried to repeat words with our accents, so the young lad that I primarily taught ended up with a bit of a Yorkshire dialect while a girl who was taught by another team member, Beth, started speaking like a scouser. The kids were also interested in the games of chess we’d sometimes play in the evening and it didn’t take long for us to start teaching them that too. The youths picked it up incredibly quickly and (with a little assistance) I was beaten by my host brother towards the end of our time there, which left me simultaneously proud and embarrassed.

In terms of the work we set out to do, we were past our target for the midway mark (which was when we were sadly sent home due to Coronavirus). Out of all the sessions we conducted, my favourite was probably the one I led. While the women were taking a menstrual hygiene session, the men in the group took the boys from the school to do a session on general cleanliness and ideal morning routine. This included teaching the kids how to stretch properly which ended up mirroring my usual pre-match routine. We finished the session with a relay race with checkpoints every ten meters where a different activity would have to be performed for example one being to wash their hands properly, using the 7 stages of handwashing, and another being to demonstrate 2 stretches.

Some days were better than others on the project as frustration sometimes rose when, for example, equipment wasn’t received in time or, more commonly, members got ill, with all of us having to take at least one day off work throughout the project due to illness which was testament to the poor living conditions. However, the good days were far more common. My favourite of the lot was probably Holi, the Hindu paint festival which was celebrated in Nepal on March 9th where the premise is effectively just to throw powdered paint at each other all day along with some dancing. Of all the days, this was the one where the alcohol ban for the volunteers frustrated me most.

Another great day came directly before this festival – International Women’s Day on March 8th. Sexism is a significant issue in much of Nepal with women rarely being more than stay-at-home-wives. Domestic abuse is also prevalent in Nepal. When it came to education and empowerment, this day was undoubtedly important, with us making placards in the lead up to it with different women’s-rights messages which the Bithri villagers then paraded around the local area, including other villages, and the Nepalese volunteers led the chanting. We ended the march with a speech with each English volunteer saying their part before having it translated by the Nepalese volunteers, who also had their own bits to say. This day was also imperative in helping increase the influence of the Women’s group, which is one of multiple committees we helped set up in the village.

Another day around this time was particularly special to me. This was when we took the school kids out for a litter pick with a competition for who could collect the most. We spent a good few hours walking around after school finished collecting as much as possible. Despite collecting a considerable amount we could hardly make a dent on the total quantity of litter in the area. Because there is no refuse collection service in this impoverished community the majority of waste is just dumped on the floor or, arguably even worse, burned. Although this paints a bleak image, when we told the kids why safely disposing of waste is important, for example maintaining the health of the livestock they rely on in everyday life (on the first day in community we saw a cow ingest an empty crisp packet), they were receptive and we began seeing kids pick up waste more regularly. We had plans for garbage disposal in the second phase of the volunteering but unfortunately this couldn’t be implemented before having to leave.

Our day hike was also a highlight. Despite being quite ill from a nasty stomach at the time I decided to make the journey regardless and was thankful I did so with the views that I managed to see. I was rather disappointed at first when being told we were headed for the Makwanpur region as we were so far away from the Himalayas but the scenery on that walk made up for it. Also, despite being in the relatively flat south of the country, the mountains we ventured up were still competing with the highest in the UK. This journey included another jungle expedition as well as a wobbly valley bridge which didn’t sit particularly well with my vertigo.

As I said though, there were some negative aspects of the trip and none of these were greater than when we were told that, due to the developing covid-19 pandemic (which we knew very little about due to the complete lack of internet in the community), we were about to be evacuated back to the UK. We were pulled out of bed at 5 in the morning to be told this and I think it’s fair to say the news didn’t go down brilliantly. We were told a convoy of 4X4s were expected the next day, so make the last remaining day count. We spent the majority of the time with our host families, whom we’d all bonded with, visiting favourite spots in the picturesque area which we’d likely only ever see in pictures again, and doing all the things we’d wanted to ask to do since arriving (for example my host father accepted my request to plough the field with his giant oxen – it’s fair to say I wasn’t a natural). They had planned for a massive farewell party at the end of our stay but because of the abrupt nature of our departure, the locals made do with the little time they had, providing the best food they had to offer and getting a large speaker which was located in a neighbouring village. Music was played long into the night and some of the locals got considerably hammered (Temang culture is renowned for its love of alcohol after all). The next morning, we woke, packed and said goodbye. Luckily, I just remembered my farewell gift to the community – handing out the football shirts the people of Silsden had put together for me. I can’t stress enough how thankful the kids were.

After a 5 hour car journey through the mountains we returned to Kathmandu. We stayed in a lovely hotel just next to the Pashupatinath temple, one of the most important in Hindu religion, which I visited a couple of times during our stay there. The hotel also neighboured a European restaurant which meant I could finally break away from the 40 consecutive days of eating rice, rice and more rice. Finally, after a week of flight cancellations and untold stress, everyone’s flights were finally sorted. Typically, me and two of my group members ended up having the last flights out of everyone, three days after the first, making us the last three out 180 volunteers who were stuck in Nepal across three separate organisations partnered with ICS to return to the UK.

As well as wanting to recount this story of my trip in this blog, it also serves another purpose. In order to receive my certificate of completion, I have to complete the 3 different segments of the programme. The first is the fundraising (where I comfortably met my target), completing the volunteering itself (which is being counted despite it being cut short), and lastly this – my action at home. This final part is about trying to positively influence the community around you via different means, such as more volunteering at home or, as this will be, delivering an important message over social media. As the former is concerned, I’ve joined the Silsden Helpline, which made a massive contribution to our little town during the most stressful times of the pandemic, creating a vital support system for the most vulnerable people in the community. With them, I have done shopping and delivered prescriptions for elderly, at risk people.

Please read about the helpline here: https://silsdentoday.co.uk/info/

And visit the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/silsdeninfo

As for the messages I want to deliver here, the first is warning of the effects of climate change on the country I visited. Nepali people talk of strange monsoon season timing and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and if these are exacerbated it could cripple the agricultural market in Nepal, which is the livelihood of over ¾ of the country’s population. To counter this I urge for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels for those reading this as a good starting point. A fellow Raleigh alumni tells of some effective small changes we can make in our life which will help the people of Nepal (and all others most vulnerable to the effects of climate change) in years to come: https://raleighinternational.org/blog/blog_post/how-turning-to-green-energy-can-tackle-climate-change/

Although counter-intuitive to the reduction of carbon output, I think it’s still important to mention that this year was intended as “Visit Nepal 2020”, where the country aimed to have 2 million tourists visit this year. With recent critical acclaim from tourism sites, for example with Lonely Planet ranking Kathmandu as the 5th best travel destination globally, it was thought that 2020 was going to provide a massive economic boost for Nepal, to take it above its current global standing of 166th. Due to Covid-19, this dream is now impossible to fulfil and instead of experiencing a huge tourism incline the country now faces a slump which will badly damage this economic sector. In 2018 tourism in Nepal was c3.6% of GDP, growing to c7.9 % in 2019. The expectation was to grow that further this year which would have benefited the economy greatly. So, what I’m asking of you reading this is to consider visiting Nepal as a future holiday destination once flights return to normality. I loved my time there and I’m sure you would as well.

The final plea I’m making is for readers of this blog to look at the work that Raleigh and ICS do, not only in Nepal but on a global level. The projects they deliver are vital in improving livelihoods in the World’s least fortunate areas. If you’re someone of my age, consider volunteering as I did and, if you haven’t already, please spare some money so these organisations can continue their work. https://raleighinternational.org/volunteer/?utm_source=google.com&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=2020_expedition_vols__grant_raleigh&gclid=CjwKCAjw8pH3BRAXEiwA1pvMsdHyHXxyTYhNO2gObrYPOs7UNO2pgMSGK8WdagSf2NSwaYquguU3vRoCC3YQAvD_BwE

FEATURE INTERVIEW | Josh Kaine

Byron Whalley caught up with captain Josh Kaine who shared his thoughts on last season, the squad moving into the new campaign and the new facilities.

What were your thoughts on how last season went as a whole before the season came to an end?

Last season was really up and down, to be honest. We obviously had a horrible spell and couldn’t buy a win but then we finished really strong and was on a good run, we were gutted the season got cut short but it was a good test and learning curve for us in a new league and both the bad and good runs we had will help and prepare us well for the new season.

It was your first season in the NCEL after moving over from the NWCFL, how did you and the squad take to the transition?

I think the leagues are fairly similar to be honest, in both you have teams that like to play and get the ball down and teams that are physical and are more direct in the approach which isn’t anything new. I do believe we can compete more not only on the pitch but off it too in the NCEL.

The squad last season was one of the youngest in comparison to seasons gone by, what was that like for you captaining the side and what were your overall thoughts on the squad?

I’ve enjoyed working within this group, I would say it’s the most honest, hardworking group we’ve had in a long time. Everyone is on board and buying into what the management believe in and want so it’s a good match. In terms of the age of the group, I think it’s shown at times this season we’ve lacked that bit of experience in some games but we definitely grew in confidence as a group and gelled. On a whole, though the age of the group has to be seen as a positive especially if we can have a good pre-season with not many departures which I don’t expect, we are only going to get better.

What are your thoughts going into next season and are you looking forward to playing in front of the new facilities?

We’ve added a few quality signings and kept the majority of the squad so I think I speak on behalf of everyone in the squad that we are quietly confident we can have a good season and challenge to be within/around the top 6. The new facilities will be great for the club, everyone at the club and in the community benefits and we can’t wait to see it finished and play our football at the ground next season. The committee works so hard and we as players are grateful for everything they do!

FEATURE INTERVIEW | Danny Forrest

Byron Whalley caught up with Manager Danny Forrest who shared his thoughts on last season, the squad moving forward and looked ahead to the next campaign (whenever that may be!)


As the 2019/20 season sadly came to an abrupt end, what were your thoughts on how the season went overall? It was also your first in the NCEL after moving across from NWCFL, how do you think the transition went?

“The first emotion was disappointment, but health takes presidency over anything. We were on a good little run as the season got cut short and we had stood toe to toe with some of the top teams towards the back end of the season. You could feel the belief running through the group of players so it was a shame really, but as I said before the safety of everyone is far bigger than football. 

In terms of moving across from the NWCFL to NCEL, it was a change I enjoyed to be fair. I didn’t mind the NWCFL at all, there’s some great clubs and great people involved and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. But I welcomed the move, mainly as it helped with travelling, and possibly brought more of my footballing network in to play as I spent a lot of my playing days around Yorkshire. A lot of people I speak to want to compare different football styles between the two leagues, but to me there wasn’t much difference. I suppose whatever league you play in you’re going to get teams who have different ways of playing and we’ve seen that in both leagues over the last couple of years. Some will enjoy being direct and physical, others like to play a bit more. It’s a difficult comparison to make. Finding a balance and being adaptable are what we’ll be looking to achieve.”


The average age of the squad is in the mid to low 20’s, which it’s fair to say is quite young. What are your thoughts on how the squad took to the challenge? And can you give us an update on how the squad is shaping up for next season?

“It’s fair to say we do have quite a young squad, but the same could probably be said for quite a few teams in our league. I personally enjoy working with and investing in young people which is reflected throughout the club; players, staff, media team, U23 coaching staff. All young and have a hunger to progress and do their best for the club. Having said that I feel it’s equally as important to have experience and a lot of our players have played over 100 games for the club while I’ve been involved. Lads such as Chris Wademan, Arley Barnes, Josh Kaine, Joe Mitchell, Dan Illingworth, Mark Everingham. All early or mid twenties but have a lot of games under their belt. I also look to Craig Bentham, Tom Higman and Kevin Knappy on the staff, as well as Ben Higginson and I’ll also throw Khurram Shazad in to that mix as he’s proved to be invaluable on and off the pitch. These lads naturally bring balance and support and mentor the group where possible.

There were some challenges, particularly mentally. I don’t feel we dealt with adversity well enough, whether that was when going behind in a game or after losing a game. It seemed to affect us for too long. That is a challenge that we as staff have to try overcome and help the team deal with those situations. I felt we improved in this area as the season went on and we started to see the group really grow in togetherness and belief. So we’ll certainly be looking to continue that in to next season.

At this stage it’s difficult to give too much information on the squad as we don’t know when the season will start. Although planning goes on as normal and we’ve got most of the squad committed for next season which is fantastic as I felt we were really on to something with this group before the season got cut short. However it does look as though Laurence Sorhaindo is going to try his hand in the league above. It’s a shame for us as Laurence has grown in to an important player and it’s been great to have him. I’m proud of the part we have played in his development and I’m sure everyone at the club will join me in wishing him well. The only other one is Jake Taylor who we may lose as he returned to his parent club, but we’ll wait and see on that one.

We’ve got Kyle Hancock coming back to the club, Chris Wademan, Matthias Britton and Matty Moses will hopefully all get a full pre season in after recent serious injuries and all four could be like new signings for us and have a big impact.

In order to grow and improve I do feel we can strengthen by adding a couple of new players in to the mix, and I’m really pleased with some of the positive conversations I’ve had with potential signings. Recruitment is a challenge every year, and it’s no different this year. I’m just delighted the club is turning a few heads. We don’t have particularly deep pockets but I’m proud of the environment we have created and it’s pleasing that players are wanting to play their football with us. We’ll share news on incomings as soon as we feel it’s appropriate to do so.


At this current moment in time there is a lot of uncertainty around football, could you possibly tell us what you know and also how you have managed the players during this time?

“As I said earlier, football really does take a back seat at such a time. We’re preparing as we normally would for a new season as we just don’t know what the future holds and it’s important to be ready for anything. I believe there’s a meeting between all Step 5 & 6 clubs up and down the country to discuss things moving forward later this month, so we may get more of an idea after that. We’re looking at our options in terms of training and we’re having plenty of discussions around the new guidelines. So we’ll see how it pans out in the short term as to whether we put something in place, but in all honesty it’s hard to know what is for the best with all the uncertainty. 

One of the obvious concerns amongst all this is finances, as there’s nothing coming in to the club despite various ongoing costs. We had eight home games left which would have generated much needed funds. We’re pulling together and doing our best, we’ve done some in-house fund raising which players, staff, committee members and supporters have all got involved with which has been great. It will help towards getting the club through this period hopefully with our heads above water. We have some great partnerships and relationships with local business and companies which we are truly grateful for. To keep progressing and moving forward we’re always on the lookout for new business. With the ground development and the progression the First Team and U23 team have made in recent years we need the support to keep growing. We’re in unprecedented times, but there’s some great opportunities to get involved with the club of which we’ll release details of soon enough where hopefully we can work together with more local people to help take this great club forward.

We’ve kept regular contact with the players and I have to say the attitude from the group has been brilliant. A Strava group was set up in which all the lads have had an input, recording their runs and cycling activity. Our physio Conner Docherty has done a great job setting regular mental and physical challenges to the players which has kept things a little competitive and helped the lads engage with each other which has been important. And more recently since the restrictions were eased slightly we’ve had some of the lads take part in football specific ‘1 to 1’ sessions. We’re meeting regularly as a group of staff via video call so we’ve managed to keep everything ticking over on the football front.”


Can you give us an update on the facilities which will hopefully be in place for next season?

They’re going fantastically well. I know the development of the facilities is a priority for our committee and over the years they’ve all worked extremely hard on this. To land the funding bid was great news for the whole club and Silsden community and I know we’re all grateful for the opportunity to upgrade some of our ageing facilities. It was a great place to play football before this, but with all the improvements it’s going to be a fantastic facility and one the area can be proud of. Community is at the heart of the club and this will ensure a legacy is left for generations to come. In the short term I’m sure it’ll prove to be an attraction for supporters, sponsors and players alike.

There’s a team of volunteers working hard every day alongside Steve from Cobbydale Construction. Up to press the old ‘Mcnulty Stand’ has been taken down and the area prepared and freshly concreted for the new stand and hospitality suite to sit on. I also have to say the attention to detail provided by Steve and Andy Consoli has been fantastic and it’s great that high standards run throughout the club.”


Finally, what are your expectations moving forward and how are you looking to progress the team and the club holistically?

“Moving forward my priority is to improve and progress the first team and look at strengthening development pathways through our U23 team. 

In terms of the First Team we’ve managed to improve year on year. And it’s just a case of same again. We’ll demand high standards throughout while being realistic with our expectations. But really we want to continue to grow and get better.

The U23 set up is important to us, as I’ve already said we place value in young people and we’ve got a strong group coming together. Last season was a bit hit and miss and there was quite a bit of change in terms of staff. Between the poor weather and the season getting cut short it was difficult for the players to get in to any rhythm. We’ve now got a young hungry coaching team in Jacob Mistry, Sam Ash and Sohail Abbas who will lead the team and hopefully give them the best opportunity to progress. With the facilities we have and the people involved in the set up I feel we’re in a strong position to support young players and their development and hopefully we’ll see more making their way in to the First Team set up. I feel we’re suitably placed to be a hotbed for talent in and around the local and surrounding areas, and also provide players from our junior section with the opportunity to carry on their footballing journey.”

PLAYER FEATURE | Alfie Darke

We caught up with Alfie Darke to talk all things Sils, his injury and thoughts/aims for next season.

 

What attracted you to Silsden?

I made my decision to join here permanently following my loan spell the previous year because I could tell what a great club Silsden is. Everybody made me feel welcome right from the start, and I was enjoying it here so I had no doubt once I got asked that I wanted to return and really do the best I can for the club. The fans were great to me also, so again I had no doubt there that I wanted to come back. The manager, of course, is a big reason why players are drawn to clubs, Danny and the other coaching staff are all top coaches and great to learn from, and also great people so it was a no brainer really.

 

What was it like making the step up from U18s football to playing for Silsden?

Playing semi-pro football is a great learning curve for my development. The obvious change is now you’re playing for points. It’s not just development now, you must have the performance and results there. The added pressure of fans being there, owners, board members all watching is a challenge I’m taking in my stride and really pushing myself a week in week out to try to make sure that come match day I’m primed and ready to be at the top of my game. Each game, each training session I’m learning. You have to. I’ve learned you can’t just be content with where you’re at right now, there’s always something you can be learning or practising that could possibly give you the edge over your opponent. You’re always learning.

 

You missed 6 months of the season through injury, what was that like to deal with?

Yeah, obviously It’s hasn’t been easy this year. Not how I wanted or planned for it to go at all. I still remember the game, Barton away and I made the decision to come out, got it badly wrong, and it led to this. At first, I didn’t even imagine it could be as severe as it was, that’s why I tried playing on. But soon after I knew I wasn’t right so I had to come off and the news following was genuinely gutting. Being unable to train, not even walk for a month or two was hard. Psychologically tough too, as all I’ve done and known is playing. I’ve never had an injury like this before, so long, and it was really hard for me not to be putting on my boots and getting out on the pitch each week, and it was hard to have to watch and in all honesty, I hated it. Nobody likes to be left out, whether that’s through injury, or not being selected, it’s not nice and I just wanted to be back from the moment I got injured. It’s still going to take time to be totally back to normal but I am getting there and that with the hard work of the physio, Conner who’s been great throughout the season in the work and treatment I’ve been receiving from him, really top quality and I don’t think many clubs around this level can match what we have at Silsden. The other coaches too, supporting and encouraging me through my rehabilitation was really good, things were starting to look positive. Just before the season was abandoned I was just about there or thereabouts to being back in the frame, it’s been frustrating for me but I’ve just got to look forward to next season now. 

 

What are your aims for next season as a squad and an individual?

Overall this season I think we were hoping to do slightly better in all honesty. We aim high, set our standards high and of course we’re looking slightly higher. We’re a close team, push each other so next year I think we’re all looking to push on and really look towards the top end, and also the try put together a good cup run, and personally I really want to push for a successful campaign and to develop more.

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.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

          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.

PLAYER FEATURE | Dan Illingworth

This week we caught up with defender Dan Illingworth, to get his reflection on the season, the squad and a bit about his own playing career.

What are your initial thoughts on how the season went?

Inconsistent rollercoaster. We came to adapt to a new league with a lot more physicality and directional football, which at times we did/didn’t deal with. I don’t think we had the mental or physical fitness at times to overcome adversity. However, we have shown resilience and other factors to compete with the very best in the league.

What do you think of the squad and would you say it’s a squad you’ve enjoyed playing with?

Silsden is a brilliant club to be affiliated with. It’s been nice to see younger lads given the opportunity to develop in a first-team setting with the likes of Robbie Fox. Progressively the squad have become much tighter and there is a really good sense of cohesion in the camp. The squad has a good variety of young and experienced player’s which I think is invaluable at this level. I’ve enjoyed playing in the matches where everyone has given everything for the club. Just looking back at certain games such as Penistone, Yorkshire Amateurs and Staveley, where we’ve proved ourselves against the very top teams in the league.

At the back end of the season you went on a 7 game unbeaten run and picked up  3 points from the league leaders, what do you think was behind the run in which you picked up the majority of points against the top 6 sides?

Consistency, change in formation GRIT, determination and players who would run through brick walls every game.

What are your thoughts and aims for the upcoming season?

My thoughts on the new season would be that we need to reflect on what brought us joy last season. Can everyone replicate that mental toughness when the chips are down? My personal aim is that I mentor some of the younger lads to compete for a shirt! Obviously the wider aim would be to get into the NPL. Everything the management team has provided last season was outstanding, It’s now the time us players put everything we possibly can into winning this league.

You’re going into your 4th season as a Silsden player, how did the move to Silsden originally come about?

I was at Brighouse Town for a number of years. Played at CB then was asked to go up top (you should see my finishing) for a number of games. However, it wasn’t the solution at the club at the time. Following games sat on the bench I played in an under 23’s game against Silsden and funnily enough, the gaffer decided to have a run-out. We played against each other and had a chat after the game. After that, the decision was made.

What have been your highlights over the last 3 seasons and how does Silsden compare to other clubs you have been with?

Highlights for me have to be NWCFL Div 1 champs, that run was unbelievable. Another highlight for me has to be how much of a professional attitude there is at the club. I remember that first game away at Stockport Town and how much the club has progressed since then on and off the field. In comparing my previous clubs Silsden has to be the club where I’ve enjoyed my time playing non-league football. A lot of people care about the club and been around is important to me and how I am as a person.

PLAYER FEATURE | Arley Barnes

Earlier this week we caught up with midfielder Arley Barnes, to get his overall thoughts on how the season went, the squad, aims for the upcoming season and a bit about his own footballing career.

What are your overall thoughts on how the season went?

It was a mixed season really. We started well but had a really poor run around Christmas time, this was a massive setback for us, we knew we were a lot better than that. We found some form and went on a good unbeaten run, there was a real buzz back around the place. It was a shame the season had to be cut short in the way it was, but obviously that was out of our hands.

At the back end of the season you went 7 games unbeaten and even picked up 3 points away to the league leaders, what do you think enabled you to go on such a run like that and pick up some good points against the top sides? 

We’ve always known we can mix it with the top teams in the league, so it wasn’t a shock to us that we picked up points. We changed formation towards the back end of the season and I think this made us harder to beat, everyone really bought into it and as you saw, the results took care of themselves. 

What are your overall thoughts on the squad and would you say it’s been one of your most enjoyable teams to play in?

We’ve got a very good squad, yes, and considering some of the players still to come back from injury, next season it’s going to be a real fight to pin down a 1-11 jersey. There’s a good mixture of characters in the dressing room so it’s an enjoyable one to be in. Everyone is very much on the same page and have bought into what we’re trying to achieve as a team and ultimately as a club.

What are your thoughts and aims for the upcoming season?

I’m excited about next season, obviously this season was cut short when we were on a good run and there was a really good feel around the place, I’m hoping we can take that into the start of next season and really hit the ground running. We’ve had a couple of seasons to find our feet at this level now and I feel like this year we really need to kick on. You’ve seen some of the results we picked up last season, the good ones and the bad. We need to be more consistent, against all the sides we play, not just the big boys. If we can do that, I’m sure we can have a successful year.

You’re in your third spell at the club after turning out for various local clubs, can you talk us through your footballing past and how the moves came about?

I first made my debut for Silsden AFC against Runcorn Linnets in 2008, I was playing with the U19’s team at the time as well as Steeton on a Saturday. I started that game, but I knew I wasn’t going to get the game time I wanted, so continued the rest of the season at Steeton. I always wanted to return to Silsden at some point, but I wanted to return a better player, so after a few good years at Steeton I decided to re-join.

I enjoyed the first couple of seasons but then struggled with a constant shoulder injury, I wasn’t really enjoying my football at the time, so I decided to go back to Steeton. I managed to put my injury behind me and had a couple of good seasons and started enjoying it again. I always wanted to play at a higher level again, and when I got the call from Barnoldswick Town, I jumped at the chance. I knew a few of the lads from my previous time at Silsden so I settled in pretty quickly. I enjoyed my time there, it was nice to play at a different club. I’d only ever really know Steeton and Silsden. 

When I sat down with the Gaffer in the off-season (2017) and he went through his plans for the season ahead at Silsden, I couldn’t help but be impressed by him. Everything was so much more professional, he was so passionate and committed to achieving something at Silsden, I completely bought into it and it was an easy decision for me to return.  A decision I’m very glad I made, I’ve loved my time back with the club and I can’t wait to get back going again.

Since returning to the club you’ve been a mainstay in the team for the last three seasons, what have been the highlights during this time? And what is it that keeps driving you on?

I’ve very much enjoyed the last three seasons, probably the most in my career. I’ve been lucky with the group of lads we’ve had together. We’re a very close bunch, a lot of lads have known each other for years and that really shows. The highlight for me has to be when we won promotion, everything just came together that season. We went on a ridiculous 18 game winning streak and the buzz was unreal. It was nice to be part of something so special, and a season I’ll always look back on and smile. I think the thing that keeps driving me on is the desire to have that feeling again

CLUB NEWS I Sils Receive Grant Funding To Improve Facilties

The club are celebrating a £100,000 grant awarded to help pay for a major upgrade of facilities.

The cash, from the Football Association, will enable the club to replace several dilapidated buildings at our Keighley Road home.

A new 100-seat stand, hospitality unit, ticket office and standing terracing form part of the scheme, which Club President Barry Thomas says will leave a legacy to Silsden “for generations to come”.

It is hoped – coronavirus permitting – that at least some of the new facilities could be built and ready for the start of next season.

Club President Barry Thomas, who co-ordinated the bid for funds, said the grant was “brilliant news”.

“It has been obvious for some years that several structures at the ground have been getting near to the end of their useful life – and they have further deteriorated significantly in recent months due to sustained inclement weather,” he said.

Among the buildings to be replaced is the John McNulty Stand, a wooden structure built in 1936 with old railway sleepers as a foundation. It is rotting and has woodworm.

The plan is to construct in its place a steel-fabricated stand, which would be built onsite.

An existing hospitality unit, housed in a dilapidated portable cabin, will also be replaced. The new purpose-built unit will be constructed in stone matching the clubhouse will include disabled facilities and will be utilised by Senior and Junior sections.

Stone will be used too to build the replacement ticket office, currently also an old portable cabin.

And a new, covered standing terrace – accommodating 50 spectators – will be provided between existing clubhouse porches.

Mr Thomas said all the construction, electrical and joinery work would be carried out by locally-based companies – Cobbydale Construction, Danny Clarke Building and Groundworks and Shane Parker Building Solutions.

The project will be managed by Andy Consoli, with Stephen Edwards of Cobbydale Construction, and accounts manager is Andrew Phillips.

“These are exciting times which continue the dreams and expectations of our club founder Dr John Purcell – who in 1904 envisaged health and outdoor activities every hour of the day for the people of Silsden,” added Mr Thomas.

First Team Manager Danny Forrest paid tribute to Barry and the rest of the committee:

“I’m so pleased for the likes of Barry who has worked so hard in securing the funding. Barry like many others has been involved with the club for many years and their dreams are turning in to a reality.

It just shows that we’re a forward thinking club, and the new facilities will raise the bar again and hopefully prove to be an attractive proposition for people.

We’re looking to build on what we have achieved on the pitch during the last few years and I’m delighted that’s matched by ambition off it.

These are exciting times for the club, preparations for next season continue to take place every day and we’re all looking forward to getting back to football as soon as we know it is safe to do so.”