PRIOR to their formation, the founder members of Millshaw Park Rangers questioned how tough it would be to set up their own side.
Chairman Chris Holland, aged just 25, readily admits there have been challenges.
But one year on from their creation, the club are targeting immediate promotion and even setting up a reserve side – giving social media savy Millshaw plenty to shout about on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter.
Operating from Millshaw Playing Fields, Rangers ply their trade in the lowest tier of the Leeds Combination League with Holland’s side currently fifth in Division Three. There are 43 teams above them in the pecking order but few will have the modern outlook of Rangers who are developing at a rate of knots and are even armed with their own ‘social media ambassador’.
Former manager Declan Parnell fulfils that role and the 21-year-old is one of the three main brain-waves behind the creating of Millshaw Park Rangers, borne out of an amalgamation of various six-a-side teams playing at Leeds’ Futsal Arena last term.
Parnell’s team, ‘A3 Milan’ were one of them, and MMCG – named after the Maria Mallaband Care Group firm that Holland works for – were another. And 12 months on from an initial February 2014 brain-storm, two has become one as players from MMCG, A3 Milan and a smattering of footballers from other six-a-side teams have helped create Leeds Sunday football’s newly emerging force.
A £3,000 grant from the Football Foundation admittedly proved crucial in the club’s development, but former Rodillian High School pupil Holland is proud of his side’s quick emergence which he hopes can prove an inspiration for other would-be new sides.
“We’re not a year old yet, we’re a new team and we got started as part of the Grow The Game scheme with the Football Foundation,” explained Holland.
“But me and a couple of the lads that played five-a-side together, we were having a drink after one of the games and we were just saying to each other, ‘why don’t you play 11 a side football anymore?’
“We all got talking and we all had similar stories in that we’d played at a junior level and then when we tried to get back into open-age football, we found it all very cliquey really.
“So we just said ‘let’s see how hard it’s going to be to actually set our own club up’ and it kind of spilled on from there.
“We put a lot of work into it and Tom Dent down at County FA was really good in helping point us in the right direction.
“We got some funding from the Football Foundation and took it from there.”
Twelve months on, Millshaw are well-poised for promotion and also visit Badri in a Leeds FA Sunday Jubilee Cup semi-final this weekend. But former Carlton Primary School pupil Holland admits the club’s rise has not been without complications.
Rangers were initially hoping to use the facilities at Leeds’ Futsal Arena but that plan fell through leaving Rangers grateful to the deep pockets of Morley-based Parnell who works for Leeds-based translation company ‘thebigword’. In any language he has been generous in getting Rangers up and running. Holland explained: “We couldn’t afford the changing facilities so Declan paid for that out of his own pocket. He shelled out the best part of £300 for the season for the lads to use the changing rooms at the ground at Millshaw Playing Fields. The pitch on its own was £570-something and adding the changing rooms as well just wasn’t feasible at the time so Dec stumped it up out of his own pocket bless him. Thankfully we have also had the grant from the Football Foundation – £3,000 over three years – but it’s not a blank cheque and they give you a very specific list of things that you can and can’t spend the money on. The rest of our money has been raised by finding individual players sponsors and selling advertising space on our website. If it wasn’t for the social media we wouldn’t have been able to have signed half the sponsors that we have.”
Be it on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube, Millshaw Park Rangers have a presence with the team ironically having first-class social media skills yet no social headquarters – apart from each other’s houses. With Parnell now focusing on the club’s social media, Michael Stanton now manages a team based little more than one mile away from Elland Road, home of the team that Holland supports.
Not all of his team-mates share his passion. Holland laughed: “Millshaw Rec where we play is the pretty much the same post code as Elland Road so we are not far away at all. But we’ve got a load of glory hunters in our team who are all bloody Man U and Liverpool fans.”
But not the mastermind behind one of Leeds Sunday football’s newest forces who has even roped his doctor’s receptionist wife Robyn into being club secretary. Indeed, as far as football passions go, even the mighty Whites have been surpassed by Millshaw Park Rangers. Holland laughed: “I had a season ticket at Leeds through all the horrible League One away days but I don’t have it any more. I’m a married man with a two-year-old daughter now so my football money goes to Millshaw rather than Leeds.”
Founded: February 2014.
Ground: Millshaw Playing Fields.
Division: Leeds Combination League Division Three.
Chairman: Chris Holland.
Secretary: Robyn Holland.
Manager: Michael Stanton.
Assistant manager and social media ambassador: Declan Parnell.
Combination League kit sponsor: thebigword