Leeds Combination League: Unbeaten Chapeltown are still fighting on five fronts

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They’re unbeaten, chasing an amazing quintuple and the sole survivors from Yorkshire in the prestigious FA Sunday Cup.

But there’s one problem as Chapeltown Fforde Grene approach 2014’s conclusion – they don’t want the year to end!

And why would they with defending champions Fforde hot on leaders HT Sports’ coat-tails in the powerful Leeds Combination League Jubilee Premier, as well as still going strong in the West Riding County FA Sunday Cup, the Leeds FA Sunday Challenge Cup and the Combination League’s Sanford Cup.

Boss Dave Harding has seen some strong Fforde teams since the club’s 1978 formation – but it’s been at least a decade since the manager can remember a Chapeltown team being anything like unbeaten halfway through the season.

Harding has to go back to his all-conquering sides of the 1990s in his first spell as manager to recall such feats when guiding a team that won just about everything on offer. The present-day manager is now in his second stint having taken over from brother Phil Harding and Lincoln Richards – father of Manchester City star Micah – with Richards and Phil Harding now in charge of Yorkshire Amateur in the NCE League.

Yet even Fforde’s 90s stars were denied both County and Carlsberg Cup glory and it is those two competitions that have been pinpointed as this season’s key cup targets – in support of the bread and butter of a third league title in a row.

Harding told the YEP: “This side has broken a lot of records like being unbeaten at home for two years but we’ve never had a run like this where we’ve gone over half the season and still be in every competition. I wish 2014 would go for another few months to be fair! But we’ve got the squad to handle it. I don’t get excited about things until we are in the last eight and then you start believing that you can do everything.

“The main thing is we want to win the title for three years on the trot – I’ve done it before and with this crop of players I’d like to do it again but I’ve never won the County Cup and that’s the one thing on my resume that I do regret. It’s a bit if a bugbear for me and maybe we can change that this year. My brother Phil has certainly handed over a good set of lads to me and I’ve just done a few tweaks.”

As if Fforde’s first team’s success was not enough, the club’s Sunday reserves are also carrying all before them in the Leeds Sunday League.

Fforde’s second stringers have won nine games out of nine in the Terry Pears Premier Division and are 10 points clear of second-placed Station Whites.

Their success has been music to the ears of first-team boss Harding.

“We’ve got a few experienced lads and a lot of youngsters and I do look at them,” said the Fforde first team boss.

“I’ve taken a couple from there and I’ve got a young lad called T’nique Fishley who is only 18 and he’s come through the reserve ranks. He’s a regular now and he’s played every game.

“We’ve found a little diamond which is what we want because we are getting older together and sooner or later you are going to fade into obscurity.

“But we’ve got a history – we’ve been going since 1978 with me as a player manager – and you don’t want it to ever disappear.”

There seems little chance of that at present – and now Harding is challenging his current crop of players to emulate the all-conquering Fforde side of the 90s.

Harding said: “I don’t want to upset any players but right now you can’t compare them to some of the teams I have had in the past. But they are getting there.

“We’ve got quite a few youngsters in the team but they’ve got to earn their status before they can be classed amongst Fforde Grene’s greats. They’ve certainly got that will to win. They don’t believe they can lose.”

Chapeltown are on the look-out for club sponsors. All inquiries can be addressed to Thomas Matthews at thomas.mathews1@yahoo.co.uk or on 07597 346618.

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