Team of the Week: Main Line Social are on the right tracks

Main Line Social FC, back from left, William Harrison, Chris Sowden, Brad White, Gareth Mattison, Ashley Williamson, Shane Thompson, John Darke, and Brad Sharrocks. Front, Tom Clarke, Joe Hill, Callum Woodhouse, James Halliday, and Danny McKane.
Main Line Social FC, back from left, William Harrison, Chris Sowden, Brad White, Gareth Mattison, Ashley Williamson, Shane Thompson, John Darke, and Brad Sharrocks. Front, Tom Clarke, Joe Hill, Callum Woodhouse, James Halliday, and Danny McKane.
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A date that will be forever etched in the minds of a generation of Yorkshire folk is April 26, 1992: the day Leeds United won the league.

On that unforgettable day, a 3-2 victory over Sheffield United clinched the Division One title for a Whites side boasting the likes of Gordon Strachan, Eric Cantona and Gary Speed.

But as the thousands of Leeds fans at Bramall Lane revelled in the euphoric joy that winning a trophy brings, a similar story was unfolding just three miles away from Elland Road.

Because for others, the date will be remembered as the day Main Line Social Football Club lifted the Sanford Cup.

Western Flatts Park may have been a far cry from the bright lights of Division One stadiums, but for the Main Line players on that day, the grass they were tussling on may well have been that of United’s home, as goals from Barry O’Donnell and Martin Reagan secured the win in a 2-1 victory over Bird-in-Hand.

Formed in 1972 by the late Jack Hatfield through the social club on Pudsey Road, Main Line started out as a Saturday team, before switching to Sundays to play in the Leeds Combination League 14 years later.

Since then, the team has gone on to lift the Luty Cup in 1990, and became Premier League champions in 2008, a year which also saw them finish runners-up in the Sanford Cup, the same competition they had won 14 years earlier.

Until his death, Jack remained a big part of the club he gave rise to, and could frequently be seen on the sidelines at games come rain or shine.

His memory lives on at the club through his sons who all continue to be involved with Main Line in one way or another after hanging up their boots, most notably Keith Hatfield, who is now the club’s president, ensuring the Hatfield name lives on in the team’s history.

And this season, Main Line are doing Jack and his family proud, perching comfortably atop the Premier Division with just four league games left.

They started the football year with an emphatic 12-0 victory over Hare and Hounds, with a Bradley Francis-White hat-trick and a quartet from Adam Fowler among the dozen.

From there, Main Line brought the league under their control, taking a maximum of nine points from their three games in the run up to Christmas, scoring an impressive 22 goals before the festive period.

But after Christmas, their form has faltered slightly, bagging maximum points in just one of their fulfilled games since the turn of the year, and picking up another three-point haul from Sunday’s away walkover against South Leeds Independents.

Main Line might have played more games than all of the teams below them, but Green is hoping a 10-point lead will prove hard to erode, with the team remaining quietly confident they have one hand on the trophy with just a matter of weeks left of the season.

And with such a sterling set of results behind them, it is difficult to imagine the team not gaining promotion to the top flight, and manager Anthony Green insists the future is bright for his squad.

“I’ve been here for four and a half years and we’ve been improving slowly until this year, where we’re hopefully pushing for promotion,” said Green, a plasterer by profession.

“It would be nice to lift a trophy.

“We have a young and up-and-coming team with an average age of about 24 years old, which is great for the future of the club.

“The squad is young and vibrant and new players seem to take the club to heart.”

But while the team may be predominantly youthful, that is not to say it lacks its loyal stalwarts.

Several players, including captain William Harrison and Gareth Peel, have been pulling on Main Line shirts for nearly two decades, and have helped to form the family atmosphere that is so evident at the club.

But like every football team, Main Line has gone through its fair share of trials and tribulations, experiencing both the highs of promotion and the lows of relegation over the years and coming out with that family-like bond that extra bit tighter.

“At one time, we were a yo-yo club like West Brom,” said Mick O’Connell, club secretary. “We’d get promoted one season, go back down the next, and then go up again.

“It’s been hard, but we want to keep our young players and keep improving.

“I think we will win the league but we’re certainly making it very hard for ourselves.”

And despite Main Line’s troubles over the years, they have managed to battle their way through to become the thriving club they are today. They remain grateful that they never had to succumb to the dark times however, in light of the recent folding of Chapeltown Fforde Greene, last year’s champions of the Jubilee Premier.

“It’s a horrible situation,” O’Connell said. “I’ve been doing this for a very long time and over the years we’ve had a lot of tussles with Chapeltown.

“They were a very well-organised and sporting club.

“But it’s all about finances these days. There are not as many viable clubs anymore, whereas we have a big social club behind us.”

With such a stable support network behind them and a team with passion out front on the pitch, achieving promotion this season could be the start of a tremendous period for Main Line Social.

Their yo-yo tendencies are firmly in the past, and with the belief and confidence this football ‘family’ possesses, the club could go far in the years to come.

And with a repeat of ’92 dwindling in the dreams of Leeds United fans amid a continuum of lacklustre Championship campaigns, it appears Main Line Social are headed in the other direction with a high chance of success in both this season and those to come.

FACT FILE

Formed: 1972

Division: Leeds Combination Association Football League Premier Division

Manager: Anthony Green

President: Keith Hatfield

Honours: Luty Cup 1990; Sanford Cup 1992; Premier League champions 2008; Sanford Cup runners-up 2008

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