when A GROUP of long- established Pontefract school-friends formed a Saturday side, the choosing of the name ‘FC Prince’ could not have been more appropriate.
Firstly, and most obviously, the team is run from Pontefract’s Prince Of Wales pub where the players often drink until 3am.
Behaviour of youngsters you might argue and you’d be right as the team of young ‘princes’ makes Prince Harry look old with a 25-year-old manager and average age of 23 amongst the first team. Fitting also, that after a blistering start to their debut season, FC Prince are dreaming of being the long term heirs to Beechwood Gate’s Premier Division throne.
Formed only last May, FC Prince sit top of Division Two of the Wakefield League with 10 wins out of 12 games that have put them well on track to breaking a league goalscoring record of plus 85. With eight games still left to play, FC Prince’s tally currently stands at plus 74 with plenty scored by top marksman Scott Savage who insists on only wearing the number nine shirt. Nathan Perks – also a semi pro’ at AFC Goole – will only wear number 17 for a team full of characters and colour.
As manager Ryan Beckett reveals: “Jake Thomson works at Haribo, club captain Charlie Clark is a food taster, Brad Harris (winger) makes peanuts and left- back Brad Milner makes cheese.”
But there’s also a very serious side to a team whose manager once coached part-time for Barnsley Academy and is now steering an outfit with grand designs on marching up the Wakefield League. Beckett told the YEP: “The local league would be the Selby league but with only one division we really wanted to test ourselves so we opted for the Wakefield division which has four leagues and we were placed into the third tier – Division Two.
“It hasn’t been easy getting where we are now, although I’ve had coaching experience, I’ve had no previous managerial experience or experiencing in running a club which is where bringing in my friend Scott Barker has been a huge help. Not only is he a top goalkeeper but also chairman and deals with all the paperwork.
“The hardest part has been picking the squad, never mind the team, especially because I am ‘one of the lads’.
“The lads have been best mates since we were around 12 and have always played five-a-side together and had kickabouts at the local park every week but have never all been part of a team together. It was a group decision to start up a club and being the oldest, albeit only 25, I volunteered to be the manager and it’s not nice telling five lads every week they can’t even make the bench.
“We train every Thursday and they take it very seriously and are all very committed to improving themselves as players which I love. We’ve only lost one league game all season but I try to keep them grounded and we take one step at a time. And I don’t let them think about beating the goal difference record as it isn’t important, our only aim this season is to achieve promotion which would be great in our first year.
“We beat Beechwood Gate and other Premier teams in pre-season so we know we can beat anyone on our day. We just want to keep climbing the leagues.”
Fourth-placed Durkar will provide the latest opposition for an away trip this weekend, followed by the club’s latest home game against Wakefield City. Beckett’s men ply their trade at Ferrybridge Park with the Prince Of Wales pub playing an integral for a variety of reasons. “Our friend’s dad John Walker owns the Prince Of Wales pub it and we also spend most of our life there, plus it now houses our changing rooms,” revealed Beckett, a former player for Pontefract Collieries, who had to retire early through injury. The nearest playing field Ferrybridge Park is a two-minute drive away and became our home pitch and fortress but unfortunately the changing rooms were not ready for the start of the season.
“John helped turn the pub’s basement into a changing rooms and also built hot showers.
“In terms of other main people at the club, Ben Lacey is also a friend who works behind the bar at the Prince and he does all the little jobs every club needs from tidying the changing rooms to cooking the food after games he is a real hero in all the players eyes.
“Micky Corr, our striker, also owns local taxi firm ‘Ponty Cars’ and helps us get to away games and also sponsors the club.”
It’s a club motoring along at the top of the division, led by a young manager and University Of Leeds graduate who was even got his young family involved.
Beckett – who works in bodily injury - is also a young dad to two-year-old Millie with both his daughter and the manager’s other half Abby very much part of the FC Prince family.
Beckett explained: “Abby does have to put up with a lot as we do take it really seriously for our level. When we did lose on the two occasions this season – let’s just say I wasn’t available to speak to all night! Millie has been to watch a couple of games and both Abby and Millie have the FC Prince training tops!
“It’s an absolute privilege for me to be the leader of my best mates and my personal goals is to make sure the lads continue to enjoy their football and improve as players. Let’s see where it can take us ...”
Founded: May 2015.
Ground: Ferrybridge Park.
Headquarters: Prince Of Wales pub, Pontefract.
Division: Wakefield League Division Two.
Manager: Ryan Beckett.
Chairman: Scott Barker.
Club Captain: Charlie Clark.
Cook/cleaner: Ben Lacey.
Sponsor: Ponty Cars.
Training: Thursday evenings.
Claim to fame: On course to break the divisional goal scoring record.