Team of the Week: Athletic on track with long-term goal

Team of the Week. Yeadon Athletic, back from left,manager Martin Booth, Alexis McInnes, Lee Gamble, Damien Henshaw, Adam Noble, Jonny Bates, James Barker, Liam Keen, secretary Karl Stead.
Front, from left, Daniel Murphy, Paddy Clough, Danny Emsley, Scott Norto, Scott Firth.
Team of the Week. Yeadon Athletic, back from left,manager Martin Booth, Alexis McInnes, Lee Gamble, Damien Henshaw, Adam Noble, Jonny Bates, James Barker, Liam Keen, secretary Karl Stead. Front, from left, Daniel Murphy, Paddy Clough, Danny Emsley, Scott Norto, Scott Firth.
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Yeadon Athletic will be hoping it will be third time lucky as they aim for promotion back to the Premier Division in the Wharfedale Triangle.

In the past two seasons they have narrowly avoided a place in the top two, finishing third and fourth respectively.

Karl Stead and Martin Booth are names that have been associated with Yeadon Athletic since they were formed in 2001.

Stead has been manager through the highs and lows of the last 15 years while Booth moved into management more recently.

Booth joined the club as a player with an injury forcing him into retirement two seasons ago.

The side’s main achievements came in 2012 as they won promotion to the Premier Division while lifting silverware for the first time, winning the League Cup.

While there was a lot for the team to celebrate, the 12 months that followed became very difficult for the club.

They went on to finish bottom of the Premier Division with just four points, conceding 113 goals in their 20 league games.

They were forced to declare walkovers and were on the end of some disastrous results, losing 17-0, 13-0 and 10-1.

Stead recalls the torrid campaign but says he was proud of how the team continued to show fight and determination, even when results weren’t going their way.

He said: “It was a very tough season. Although it was a low point I was really proud of Martin, who was the main manager at the time, as he managed to keep the lads interested.

“He kept 18 lads interested week in, week out even with bad results. He did an incredibly good job that year.”

After the relegation they bounced back, although frustratingly finished just two points off promotion in 2014 before a third-place finish in 2015.

The aim at Dam Lane is to return to the top division and give a better account of themselves than they did back in 2013.

Three points off leaders Cullingworth Youth, with a game in hand, there is optimism that they can even go up as champions.

Stead has been pleased with how his side have played this campaign and says everyone at the club is desperate for promotion with previous failed attempts having fuelled their hunger.

He said: “We’ve brought in one or two younger players as well this year to try and aid some of the older players’ legs and we all want to go up as champions, we are so close.”

The club is determined to give youth a real chance at Sunday League football as they aim for longevity.

“We’ve always tried to bring younger players in and give them a fair run at Sunday League football because we want longevity more than anything else.

“A lot of teams are folding and we are determined to be going for as long as possible.”

And with the number of amateur teams folding in recent years alarmingly high, Stead is right to be worried.

He believes that the ever-rising cost of a running a team will lead to the end of Sunday League football.

He said: “It’s very difficult running a team and it’s getting harder and harder every year.

“I don’t think that Sunday League football will be around forever.

“The pitch fees themselves are becoming astronomical. It’s £1,000 a season just for your pitch and that’s before you have even looked at league fees, insurance and everything else.

“We are lucky as we have sponsorship. Without them we wouldn’t have a football team, it’s just too expensive.”

Stead believes it’s also the friendship between the team-mates that’s helped the team survive.

A number of players have been with the club for many years and Stead believes this has helped the team gel.

“Quite a few players have been here a few years.

“Danny Emsley, the captain, here’s been here a while. Oliver Leslie joined when he was 17 and he’s now 25. James Barker, he’s the same. He was 16 when he first played for us and now he’s 25.”

And Karl Stead is proud of the team unity that has developed in recent years: “One of things myself and Martin have always been proud of is the lads who all joined at different times but have become very good friends and have grown to know each other.

“They are all good mates; it’s a great group of lads. They just have that great camaraderie, great banter together.

“It certainly helps when you have your mates alongside you. You are a bit more willing to work a lot harder.”

It’s that team unity that has propelled them into the promotion places, losing just one of their 15 league games this season.

Since that defeat in October they’ve been unbeaten in their last 10 and will be hoping to continue that form as the season draws to a close.

The side have played in the Wharfedale Triangle League throughout their history and Stead is adamant that they will continue to compete in the Wharfedale, rather than switch to the Leeds Combination.

“There are no plans to move across,” he said. “We’ll play in the Wharfedale Triangle for as long as it is going for.”

Yeadon Athletic have two rivalries, who both play in the Wharfedale League, with Yeadon Veterans and Yeadon based locally.

Yeadon Veterans are the current Premier Division champions while Yeadon also compete in Division One with Athletic.

Veterans may not need to watch their backs at the moment but the rivalry could return if Athletic earn promotion back to the top flight.

Stead admitted that he would love to emulate the successes of the Veterans side and admitted he was full of praise for their rivals.

“Yeadon Veterans have won the District Cup and County Cups and they are an exceptionally good side.

“If we could get anywhere near their level that would be fantastic.

“As for Yeadon, like any other rivalry we just want to finish above them.”

And they’re on track to do just that.

Athletic are eight places above Yeadon, a comfortable 22 points above their struggling rivals.

But having the bragging rights will mean nothing to Athletic if they can’t get a top-two finish and complete their aim of promotion to the Premier.

FACT FILE

Founded: 2001

Division: Wharfedale Triangle League Division One

Ground: Dam Lane, Yeadon

Managers: Karl Stead and Martin Booth

Honours: Wharfedale Triangle League Cup 2011

Captain: Danny Emsley

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