Queenswood Crusaders boss Cisco Sandoval is hoping to turn his progressive Sunday side into one of the best in the area. Lee Sobot reports.
THE first of England’s two November friendlies confirmed one theory about a dark horse nation from South America.
A 2-0 success at Wembley confirmed that Chile are capable of producing highly talented footballers. And managers with the Chilean roots of Leeds-born Cisco Sandoval responsible for the rise of one of Sunday football’s hottest young sides.
Queenswood sit third in the Leeds Combination League’s second tier with just one defeat from their opening six games.
And defeat is something that Sandoval has experienced just three times since being appointed as manager by club founder Dave Beck in 2011.
Beck – chairman and secretary – wanted to put a Queenswood team back on the map following the demise of Queenswood Social in the 1990s. Social were a team that both Beck and Sandoval played for.
But a decade on a new Queenswood outfit is back with a vengeance. As well as eyeing promotion to the Leeds Combination League’s top flight, Queenswood are also through to the last 32 of the County Sunday Trophy and the last eight of the Sanford Cup. And Sandoval – who learnt the coaching ropes with Kirkstall Crusaders Juniors – hopes that’s just the start for the side who play their home games at Butcher Hill.
At 36, the Crusaders manager has time on his side even if time itself is in short supply given his life’s other demands.
As well as being a claims executive for Romero Insurance Brokers in Yeadon, Sandoval is a father to four daughters in Ella, Eva, Farah and Allegra.
A lot has happened since his parents moved to the UK as political refugees from Chile in 1975.
And there’s likely much more to come with Sandoval proud to be putting Queenswood back on the Sunday football map with a tad of South American flair. Sandoval reasoned: “Queenswood have always had a team historically and back in the 80s we were one of the best teams around – or so I am told. I remember I first played for the Queenswood when I was 19 and I played under a great man called Steve Masterson who sadly passed away. But the old Queenswood Social team disbanded five or six years ago due to a lack of players whilst I was a player and that was sad as the club had been going for years. Thankfully, Dave Beck who has been drinking in Queenswood for many years decided to get the team back up and running in the 2011-2012 season and they played in the Sunday Alliance. After one season he had applied to get us in the Combination League and this coincided with offering me the manager’s job.”
Queenswood have not looked back since with Crusaders romping to the Leeds Combination League Division Three title last season following just one defeat. Sandoval’s men also won the Leeds & District Jubilee Cup and their stellar season prompted Leeds Combination League officials to elevate them three divisions to the Premier League for the present campaign. After just one defeat, it looks to have been a wise move. Sandoval makes no secret of the fact that his men are intent on becoming permanent fixtures in the Jubliee Premier. And stellar progress is also being made off the field with the Queenswood manager saying his team are indebted to the continued work of club founder Beck.
“Dave puts a lot of effort into the club behind the scenes,” said Sandoval, who is proud of his Chilean roots – so much so that he took his family to Wembley to watch the South Americans beat England last month. “Dave turns up early to put the kit out and gets sponsorship for the team and he is also a signed on player.
“As a club we are in the black and any extra money we make goes back in to the club on equipment et cetera. Queenswood has always had changing rooms but the facilities were very poor. They looked like a shed. But Dave has put so much effort in making the changing rooms look what they are today and he has further plans, so watch this space. Having a base to run from is very good and the club do support the team. The financial side of running a team is the hardest challenge but to be fair to players they all pay their subs and pay for training.
“We also do football cards in the club that generates money.”
With that side taken care of, Sandoval is free to generate success on the playing field with the manager’s own introduction to the beautiful game coming when growing up in Kirkstall and donning his boots to play junior football on Sacred Heart Playing Fields. Spells at Burley Conservatives, Queenswood Social, Vespa Gate and Burley United followed but it was younger brother Daniel – 15 years Sandoval’s junior – who was responsible for a transmission to coaching. Sandoval explained: “When I was 24 my younger brother Daniel started to play for Kirkstall Crusaders and I would go and watch them play when I could. That year I was asked if I could train them and from that day on things changed. “I ended up managing these lads from under-10s to under-15s and at the time we were one of the best junior football teams around.”
Fast forward 10 years and Sandoval is dreaming of managing the best Sunday senior team around, insisting that a good vibe off the pitch is integral to success on it. “Getting the atmosphere right was always something I wanted,” said Sandoval, who says former player Glenn Knowles, who now has Huntington’s Disease, is the club’s “number one fan.”
“If you get the atmosphere right then players want to turn up. I have tried to install all the old values of Sunday league football. We train once a week, and after games we go in to Queenswood Social for some food and a drink.
“We also have a good social side topped off by our Christmas DVD which is shown before our Christmas night out. Three of our players – Richard Stevenson, Danny Furniss and James Browne – go to great lengths to take the micky out of their fellow players and it was certainly one of the highlights of last season.”
Highlights of which there were many and under Sandoval there are no doubt countless more to come.
Formed: 2011 (as Queenswood Crusaders, formerly Queenswood Social).
League: Leeds Combination League, Premier Division
Chairman and secretary: Dave Beck.
Manager: Cisco Sandoval.
Captains: Chris Gibson and Phil Oniama.
Home ground: Butcher Hill, Queenswood.
Headquarters: Quenswood Social Club.
Roll of Honour: Leeds Combination League Division Three (2012-13); Leeds And District Jubliee Cup (2012-13).
Sponsors: Dino’s Pizzeria.
Home colours: All royal blue.
Away colours: Yellow and black.