ALL eyes will be on Aston Villa’s young guns this weekend as they travel to Wembley to take on Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final.
Closer to home however another Villa side – comprised of youthful exuberance – will also be competing in their biggest game of the season to date.
Garforth Villa face Britannia Tadcaster in Sunday’s final of the Barkston Ash FA JB Plows Cup hoping to secure their maiden trophy.
The game illustrates the great strides the side have taken under the guidance of their manager Dave Coates, who formed the team only two years ago in an attempt to harness the talent of the Garforth Villa junior ranks which has been helping to develop footballers for over 30 years.
Having started in Division Three in their first season, they now sit second in Division One of the Leeds Combination League and have a great chance of meeting some of the main targets Coates set before the season began.
He says: “Previous to me starting up our open age team, I was chairman of Garforth Villa JFC for 10 years and it was part of the club development plan to form the open age team.
“It was something I wanted to set up as our junior club has produced many players for professional academies and some of these players were unsuccessful in their attempt to become professional players and wanted to come back to play in the Garforth Villa community. A number of these players are now playing semi-professional football and we want them back representing Garforth Villa.
“This season we have also started our Under-21s team and a number of these players play for our Sunday team in the Leeds Combination league.”
“At the start of the season I did set the target of two cups and promotion to the Premier Division, so we will have to see what happens on Sunday with the Barkston Ash Cup Final and if we manage to get one point from our last two league games we will finish second in the league and hopefully manage promotion.
“Unfortunately we lost the semi-final of the Luty Cup which was a real low as we didn’t turn up for the first 70 minutes of the game.”
The Leeds Combination League is becoming known as one of the toughest in Sunday football, but Coates is confident his players would be able to handle the step up in quality should they gain promotion to the second tier.
Unable to pick out his key player, Coates instead concentrates on the team ethic of not only those on the pitch, but the backroom staff he can turn to for help.
“I don’t have any star players as such, just a squad of players who are prepared to play to my footballing philosophies and work hard for each other,” he says.
“No one player can win you a league title or a cup final, it takes a team effort from back to front and from the bench.
“This season we have used 30 different players and I have had 19 different goal scorers and the season hasn’t finished yet.
“I feel confident that we will be able to compete in the Premier Division, but I also know I will have to recruit another handful of quality players to compliment the strong squad we have this season.
“If we are promoted to the Premier Division and we manage to win more games than we lose, then it will have been a successful season.
“I am very fortunate to have the support of Denny Maude, Mick Wood and Carl Bosworth who act as assistant managers and coaches which is a great benefit to me on the touchline when it is time to make decisions on tactical changes.
“Mick Wood is also our goal keeping coach and both Mick and Carl play for our Garforth Villa Vets team. We also have Lynne Wood who is our money collector on the day and we have Martin Threadgold who attends the league meetings to harass the Leeds Combination Committee.
“I cannot forget our chief kit washer who is my wife Jane, who at the moment is washing kits twice a week, although she did ban the use of our white kit in the middle of winter!”
With Villa, who play on the council pitches on Brierlands Lane, competing in their cup final on Sunday, neighbours Garforth Town take on Bradford Park Avenue tonight in the final of the West Riding County Cup. The relationship between the two clubs is something Coates has been trying to develop over the years and he believes it would be for the benefit of both parties.
Already there have been some positives born out of the link between the two but Coates believes it could help Garforth become one of the strongest footballing suburbs of Leeds.
He says: “Brian Close the General Manager of Garforth Town has been kind enough to allow us to use their changing facilities for not just home games, but also away games because as we all know, there aren’t many teams with changing rooms below the Premier Division.
“After our home games we then go in the Crusader pub in Garforth where Brenda and Mick who are the hosts put food on for both teams.
“Garforth Town is a five minute walk throw from where I live and I have seen them have some great success on the pitch.
“They have been able to win some trophies during some turbulent times and I wish them all the best in the West Riding County Cup Final tonight.
“As for a link between our two clubs, this has been a relationship I have tried to develop over the last twelve years with the different owners that Garforth Town have had.
“In my personal opinion, Garforth Villa JFC should be the junior section of Garforth Town and Garforth would have a very strong community based club equal to Farsley.”
Formed – 2013
Headquarters – Brierlands Lane, Garforth
League – Leeds Combination Division One
Position – Second
Manager – Dave Coates
Captain – Michael Hick
Top scorers – Jamie Scott (24) Daniel Waite (16) Steven Phillips (12)
Rivals – Whitkirk Wanderers and Seacroft