Lee Sobot - Park Life: Loss of leagues is something that needs to be avoided in future

Wetherby Athletic Res v Headingley Rovers pictured back in August 2014 playing against each other in the Claro League , which closed down in the summer. Picture: Steve Riding.
Wetherby Athletic Res v Headingley Rovers pictured back in August 2014 playing against each other in the Claro League , which closed down in the summer. Picture: Steve Riding.
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WELCOME back to our weekly local football supplement The Goals which is tinged with an element of sadness on its first week back.

That is because no less than four of the leagues covered in The Goals are not in operation for the new season, making it six leagues in quick time following the disbanding of the Leeds Sunday League and Leeds Sunday Alliance in previous seasons.

The fact that four grassroots leagues in the Leeds area have been lost over one summer also tells its own tale about the less heralded side of the game.

Lee Sobot

Professional football is evidently thriving, one look at the giant crowds that clubs are getting and the astronomical sums spent on players highlights that point quite clearly, as does the amount of money that fans spend of tickets, merchandise and all the rest. But the fact that four grassroots leagues in the Leeds area have been lost over one summer also tells its own tale about the less heralded side of the game.

This is quite clearly something that needs looking at with the closest attention to prevent further leagues disappearing in future.

The Castleford Sunday League, Claro League, Spen Valley League and Selby League are the four leagues covered by the weekly The Goals supplement to have disappeared and all four will be sorely missed.

From a personal perspective, my early days at the YEP were spent learning the ropes writing about the Spen Valley League and, before that, on the Claro League for the Harrogate Advertiser.

The Spen Valley in particular had a rather charming old school feel to it at one point, when much respected league stalwart Mavis Ward used to send the reports in on a weekly basis by fax. There were forever problems sending the thing, fax not working, out of toner, someone had mistakenly binned it, you name it. It was all part of the fun and it’s just a shame that the Spen Valley League folding is the final message. Hopefully, that and the other leagues we are missing will one day be back.

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