Leeds Combination: HT target emotional treble after death of club stalwart

Graham Doyle
Graham Doyle
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HT Sports are again hunting a Sunday football big three – but it’s a triple of another kind on player manager Lee Connor’s mind.

Fresh from winning the County Sunday Cup in both 2012 and 2013, Connor is already dreaming of landing an emotional and “unbelievable” West Riding FA treble.

HT will line up as one of the Leeds Combination League’s main title fancies when the thriving competition begins on Sunday, August 31. The league now consists of four divisions of 11 teams supporting a top tier of nine, with Chapeltown Fforde Grene the defending champions.

But as well as targeting league joy, HT will once again be seeking glory in two other prestigious competitions in the shape of the FA Carlsberg Sunday Cup and the West Riding County FA Sunday Cup which they have won for the last two years.

With the Combination League’s Sanford Cup and Leeds FA Sunday Challenge Cup also on the agenda, Connor’s men will actually be bidding for an amazing quintuple, with all roads now leading to a week on Sunday’s league opener at Pudsey Liberal Club. Any success this season would be extra poignant for HT who lost long-serving coach and ex-manager Graham Doyle to a brain tumour this summer.

Ambitious Connor of course wants to snare all five trophies but there’s no denying a particular glint in his eye as far as the County FA Sunday Cup is concerned.

“I’m looking forward to the start of the season now but it’s going to be a tough season after doing so well last season,” said Connor. “To be honest, anyone can beat anyone in this league if you’re not on it.

“It’s a tough league and the strongest league in Yorkshire now I would say.

“I’m looking forward to the Carlsberg Cup which starts in October and to win the County Cup three times on the bounce would be unbelievable. It’s a big ask though.”

In a bid to achieve that remarkable treble, HT have been busy on the transfer front.

Connor’s men have snapped up Joe Jagger from Brighouse Town, Graham Sides from Buttershaw, Craig Maynard from league rivals Fforde Grene and Lee Turner from Garforth Town.

And the strength in depth at the club was evident at a special HT “past versus present’ match and barbecue on Sunday in memory of Doyle.

The club stalwart died aged 58 this summer and an emotional Connor said: “Graham had been with HT since we started in 1993 and he was very passionate about the club. He was 100 per cent HT.

“Sunday’s game in his memory was good – it was a 3-3 draw and the ex-players won on penalties.

“We’re all looking forward to the start of the season now.”

While HT get underway at Pudsey Liberal Club on August 31, Jubilee Premier champions Fforde will start at home to Sea-croft AFC.

Halton Moor will begin with a trip to Queenswood Crusaders – one week before a crackerjack fixture at home to Fforde.

The start date for the forthcoming Leeds Sunday League campaign was set to be decided last night with the league aiming for two divisions of eight teams.

As of yesterday, the league had 15 confirmed teams and three possibles.

Chairman Mike Goodwin admitted: “We really need 16 for two divisions and 15 would not be practical as a single division.”

Away from the Leeds Combination and Leeds Sunday, Wakefield Athletic FC registered one victory but suffered two heavy defeats as their three sides continued with their pre-season build-up. The Wakefield & District Sunday League in which they play kicks off on Sunday, September 7.

Wakefield Athletic’s first string continued their unbeaten run with a solitary goal from midfielder Andy Jackson in their narrow victory over Sandal Galaxy in a poor affair.

The second string suffered their first pre-season defeat with a 4-0 loss to a bright Wrenthorpe Rangers Reserves outfit.

A rebuilding process taking place with Wakefield Athletic B saw them crumble 8-1 to a strong Nostell Miners Welfare unit. The score was level at 1-1 at half-time before the experienced Nostell side went on a goal spree after the break. Midfielder Mahamadou Dukuray hit Athletic’s consolation – his third in as many games.

Next Sunday, Wakefield Athletic’s first string are away to Pontefract Sports and Social Club who play in the Premiership of the Castleford & District Sunday League while Wakefield Athletic’s third string play Hemsworth Highfield Reserves.

The Castleford Sunday League begins on Sunday, July 31 – the same day that Heavy Woollen League campaign clicks into gear.

The Wharfedale Triangle League season starts the following Sunday, September 7.

On the junior football front, Ossett Town Under-13s require a goalkeeper to join their established playing squad for this season.

Anybody interested should contact Craig Stephens on 07855 565 919.

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