Team of the Week - Morley Town: Town are aiming onwards and upwards

Morley Town first team manager Arran Wheelhouse (right) and second  team manager Robert Holmes.
Morley Town first team manager Arran Wheelhouse (right) and second team manager Robert Holmes.
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Big Plans: Officials at Morley Town would like to get the side competing at semi-pro level – or higher – if they could get the right backing. Lee sobot reports.

Noel Bullock is staggered that a town the size of Morley does not have a team competing at semi-professional level.

His Morley Town AFC are the town’s flag bearers – sat around four or five rungs below the semi-pro system in Division One of the Yorkshire Amateur League.

But another step forward looks forthcoming and secretary Bullock admits there is no denying the ambition of a side dreaming of the West Yorkshire, NCE League and maybe even the Evo-Stik League. Formed in 1969 as Lewisham Park FC by founder members Terry Brockman, Mick Brook, Mick O’Donnell and Mel Hudson, Morley Town have already undergone three name changes since their formation. Three years after their formation as an U18 Youth Group playing on Lewisham Park, the team became Ackroyd Street WMC in 1972 to represent the club they were based from. Ten years later, the outfit became known as Morley Town AFC in 1982. And just as there have been changes in terms of the team’s identity, so to have Morley experienced life in various different leagues. It leaves those involved with the club fully entitled to hope that aspirations of the West Yorkshire League and possibly even higher can be more than just a pipe dream. Having had five successful seasons in the Leeds Red Triangle League and Wakefield League, committee members believed the team was right to push on in 2012. A move to the Yorkshire Amateur League followed and two years on Morley’s first team are top of Division One with the side’s promotion to Senior B entirely in their own hands. The move to the Yorkshire Amateur League has been a successful one – and a high-profile one – with the club attracting local MP Ed Balls to their final game in the Wakefield League. They even got a new kit and an appearance on Sky News for their troubles. And as well as achieving Charter Standard Status, now there are dreams of tackling even bigger leagues – but even bigger names will be needed on board to make that one happen. Club secretary Bullock told the YEP: “How a town the size of Morley doesn’t have a team competing at semi-professional level whereas Ossett Albion and Ossett Town have been members of the Evo-Stik First Division North for a considerable length of time is beyond me. We originally changed our name to Morley in the hope to attract better interest by putting ourselves out there on the market. We’ve made good progress since and we’re quite happy where we are in the Yorkshire Amateur League but if Richard Branson wanted to come in and buy us a brand new pitch and clubhouse then we’d be more than happy having a go at something higher!

“We’d love to be competing with your Ossett Towns and your Wakefields – your Fernando Mokes and your Rob Bordmans!”

Plying their trade from Hembrigg Recreation Ground, Morley have a way to go before even getting near that level with Wakefield’s Bordman and Fernando Moke – now at Frickley having moved from Ossett Town – both banging in the goals in the EvoStik League. But at their own level there has been no denying the promise of Morley Town’s season in Division One of the Yorkshire Amateur League. The club also entertain Settle United from the Craven & District Football League in the County FA Challenge Trophy semi-final on Wednesday March 16 at Fleet Lane. Bullock, who works for Leeds City Council, reasoned: “We definitely increased our status considerably by being accepted as a member club into the Yorkshire Amateur League. A lack of changing and washing facilities and teams forfeiting games were the two main reasons why we decided to move onto pastures new. Both teams are now currently top of their respective divisions – divisions one and three – and competition for places has been a headache all season for managers Arran Wheelhouse and Robert Holmes, especially with 67 registered members on their books champing at the bit. To overcome and combat this mass influx of players, we are going to be entering a third team for next season so that everybody will have a fair crack of the whip.”

Another side linked with Morley – AFC Morley – are about to experience contrasting fortunes on the Sunday football front. Bullock is also secretary of the AFC Morley Leeds Combination League Jubilee Premier side who will fold at the end of the season.

“We have forfeited three games this season for various reasons or another and I’m a firm believer that Sunday football should not be any different to Saturday football by kicking off in the afternoons,” said Bullock, a former Leeds City Boys player who was brought to the club in 2008 by chairman Terry Brockman and the long-serving Secretary Carol Watkinson.

“In my opinion, more players would like to see this come into force which could quite possibly create more teams or prevent teams falling by the wayside especially with the nightclubs open till the early hours.

“At the moment it costs us £894 to hire a pitch/changing rooms, £320 for referees, £120 to get the lads insured which is a directive from West Riding County Football Association Ltd and £75 for cup/affiliation fees.”

But there remains plenty to celebrate on the Saturday front at Morley – and at the Carriers Arms they have the perfect place for that celebratory drink. Explaining the link with the Carriers Arms, Bullock divulged: “Back in the 2011, Halfway House Morley amalgamated with Morley Cricket & Sports to expand the Morley Town AFC name by creating two teams running out of The Carriers Arms on Glen Road.

“Hosts Sean and Diane McKenna were on the lookout for a club to be based from their thriving pub following the Morley Borough rugby team moving elsewhere and they welcomed us with open arms. Diane always puts a good spread on for all the home/away teams while Sean has his hands full on a Saturday night.

“At closing time he’s turfing the lads out after spending a shed load of money behind the bar.”

More often than not it’s been through celebrating success rather than drowning their sorrows...

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