Ferrybridge Progressive have developed from modest beginnings to become a dominant force in Sunday League Football. Lee Sobot reports.
INITIALLY formed as Rockware Sports and Social, the current dominant force of the Castleford Sunday League were eventually renamed Ferrybridge Progressive.
Top of the league, unbeaten and thriving at a plush new ground – it’s been a case of Progressive by name, progressive by nature since.
Ferrybridge’s roots stem from the Rockware Glass works in Knottingley which formed a young team under Colin Rhodes back in 1989. Initially, there was nothing shattering about the club’s progress.
But since teaming up with the Ferrybridge Progressive Working Men’s Club in 1999, the outfit have grown to become one of the sharpest forces in Yorkshire Sunday league football.
Ferrybridge, managed by Martin Shaw, are reigning champions of the Castleford Sunday League – a title they have scooped eight times in the last 15 years. Following a perfect 11 wins out of 11, the prospects of defending that crown are obvious. And Ferrybridge are also thriving off the field with the team three years into ground-sharing with Kellingley Welfare of the West Yorkshire League. The facility is the envy of many Sunday league sides and Ferrybridge’s honours list also makes impressing reading, leaving secretary John Goddard thankful that Progressive have been appropriately named.
“We have been a progressive club and we do try,” said Goddard. “We’ve tried to make the set up here as good as we can get it, we try and welcome the referees and we try and be as professional as we can even though it is a Sunday morning. It’s just about getting organised and getting everything right and we do take a lot of pride in that. Locally, we look to progress and to keep on progressing from where we started.”
Goddard, 55, a former engineer, has no huge footballing background but was on the committee at the Ferrybridge Progressive WMC when Rockware Sports and Social were formed. “Originally the team goes back to Rockware FC who were formed in around about 1989,” said Goddard. “They were set up as a group of young lads by a chap called Colin Rhodes who was manager, secretary, everything really. They were in existence from I think 1989 to about 1999-2000 and that’s when we became as one as Ferrybridge Progressive.
“When Rockware were first set up they were just basically a team of young lads who were placed in the then top division. They got relegated two years on the trot but as the young lads got better they just progressed and started moving back up the leagues. They didn’t really have a base – they were just sort of moving about from pub to pub but in 1999 Colin decided to contact the Working Men’s Club. They came on board and that’s when Ferrybridge Progressive Club was formed. I took over as secretary about 10 or 11 years ago and we’ve had a few managers since. But Martin has been at the helm for a few years now and we have quite a lot of success since.”
Shaw, once of Tadcaster Albion, was brought to the club by Goddard through his relationship with the club secretary’s 31-year-old daughter Emma who has been the Ferrybridge manager’s better half for over a decade. And now even the couple’s two children – eight-year-old Billy and five-year-old Alfie are involved in activities such as helping erect the corner flags. Goddard’s wife Catherine is also responsible for producing the post-match catering with the secretary’s son, John junior, also on the club committee.
“There is a big family feel to the club and even the little ones – Billy and Alfie – they get themselves involved,” said Goddard. “My wife makes the food and you need people like this at the club, people behind the scenes to keep the club running as smoothly as you can.”
Goddard also admits his men are loving life three years into moving into a new home.
“Previously we had always played at the local pitches at Ferrybridge Park but moving to play at Kellingley Welfare’s ground has been great,” he said.
“The pitch is enclosed, it’s all very professional and the groundsman there John Wilson does a smashing job.”
Just as Ferrybridge then so often do a smashing job on the pitch itself with Goddard’s men the team to stop in their bid for yet another Castleford Sunday League crown.
Key to the recent success has been the latest addition to their coaching artillery – assistant manager David Dickinson, formerly of Ossett Albion. Yet there is one trophy that remains elusive for Progressive – a trophy which Goddard and company are determined to crack.
“The County Sunday Cup is the holy grail for us,” said Goddard. “No-one from the Castleford Sunday League has ever won it and it would be a big thing if we could change that. We got to the semi-finals last year but we were knocked out by Fforde. Then, again, three years ago we lost to West Bowling who went on to win it so twice we’ve gone out at Fleet Lane.
“We are still going in this year’s competition and it’s fingers crossed. We’ll see what we can do.”
JB Celtic will provide Ferrybridge’s last 16 hosts on Sunday, January 5. JB ply their trade in the powerful Leeds Combination League and after 11 wins from 11, the possibility of Ferrybridge joining the Combination has not surprisingly been mooted.
As too has the prospect of a tilt at the FA Carlsberg Cup in which HT Sports, Chapeltown Fforde Grene and Thornhill Lees will fly the flag for the Leeds area this weekend. At Ferrybridge, the Carlsberg Cup and Combination League have both been discussed at committee level but for now Goodard says his men are concentrating on this season – maintaining that 100 per cent league record and chasing the County Cup.
“We were in the Carlsberg Cup about 10 years ago when we got to the semis but it was more of a pub team’s cup then,” said Goddard. “Even so, the semi- final was at Anfield and the final was at Wembley so that would have been great. Nowadays the competition has become even more serious and only the best teams enter but we have talked about having another go. We’ve also discussed the possibility of going into the big Leeds league but then there becomes a lot travelling involved.
“We just want to make sure we keep on progressing and things are going well but we are not the only good side in the Castleford Sunday League. We’re unbeaten this season but there’s a long way to go!”
Formed: 1999 (1989 as Rockware Sports and Social).
League: Castleford Sunday League Premier.
Chairman: Jimmy McCafferty.
Manager: Martin Shaw, above, assistant manager David Dickinson.
Secretary: John Goddard.
Home: Kellingley MW FC.
HQ: Ferrybridge Progressive WMC, Knottingley.
Sponsors: Woods Solicitors Pontefract, Urban Sports Normanton, Pontefract Squash Centre.
Roll of Honour: Cas’ Sunday League – Premier Division (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013), Division One (1995), Division Three (1993), Premier Division Cup (1999, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013), Division One Cup (1995). Division Two Cup (1994), Division Three Cup (1993), Open Cup (1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2013); Cas’ FA Cup (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011); Embleton Cup (2012, 2013); Bob Smith Cup (2005).