Hearing the word ‘taxi’ can be enough to give a Sunday-league footballer a nightmare.
When shouted from the sidelines on a cold weekend morning, it generally indicates either a striker has missed a sitter, a goalkeeper has dropped a clanger, or somebody worse for wear has fallen over the ball. However, for Moortown Albion, it is a reminder of how the club was formed.
After the original Moortown club unexpectedly folded in the summer of 2011, a group of players decided over a pint in the Penny Fun pub that they should form a new team, resulting in Nick Patterson admirably assuming the roles of both management and administration.
Since the club was only put together three weeks before the start of the season, the Wharfedale Triangle league insisted a new team could not be registered unless they took on the name of Moortown. Patterson duly agreed, completing a remarkably short turnaround, only to find out carrying on the name led to a host of complications.
Cue a local taxi company coming to the rescue.
“There were a few problems forming the club,” says Dan Fenteman, who has now replaced Patterson as manager of the side.
“With taking on the old Moortown name, it came to light that a lot of money was owed.
The funds for everything else were mainly raised by our sponsor Premier Taxis.
Premier were the main company involved with starting Moortown Albion.
Without them the club would be nowhere, the sponsorship money they provided initially was a big part of starting the club, and they have continued to support us since.”
Thankfully, the club is now running smoothly having switched to the Leeds Combination Sunday League, which has a reputation as one of the best amateur leagues in the country.
Based at Moortown social club, Albion used to play their home matches at Bedquilts in Adel, but have now returned to their “spiritual home” of Cranmer Bank, which sits beside their communal headquarters.
Fenteman, meanwhile, has taken over as manager to reduce the workload on Patterson, but is keen to heap praise on his predecessor.
“I only joined the club at the start of last season, as Nick wanted some help, and didn’t want to do everything on his own,” he says.
“I really enjoy being manager of Moortown, we have a great set of lads, and some great competition in the team, and picking a team each week is challenging but something that I relish.
“Watching the lads play on a Sunday, and helping them towards winning, is a great feeling.
“Nick has been with the club since the beginning and was the biggest influence on getting a team in Moortown started up again.
“He took on the running of the club on his own, with little help, for no financial gain, but so that his friends could have a football team to play for.
“Nick has assembled a highly competitive and structured club in Moortown.
“Until my arrival as manager last year, he ran the club on his own as secretary, manager and treasurer.
“He put a lot of his own money into the club for no financial gain of his own, only to see his friends playing football.
“Each year he has arranged the end of season awards for the players, arranging a venue, time place etc, and paying for the awards from his own pocket also. His ability to keep team morale at a high is second to none, and frankly without him around for this long, there would be no football club doing as well as it is doing now.”
In his debut campaign in charge of first-team affairs, Fenteman has taken to managerial life like the proverbial duck to water, guiding Albion to six wins and a draw out of their opening seven matches this season.
Despite being level on points with Horsforth Saints – who Fenteman acknowledges as their main rivals alongside Barwick Stallions – the club sit top of Division Three thanks to a far-superior goal difference due to to high-scoring victories against West Leeds Reserves, Republica Internationale, Yorkshire Black Rose and Millshaw Park Rangers Reserves, whilst they also have a game in hand. In the only meeting with the Saints so far this season, the two sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw, suggesting there is not much between the two early pace-setters in the division.
With the on-field success replicating the off-field stability, Albion look well placed for promotion. Fenteman admits that the title is the main goal, and is confident the squad have the ability to compete with the likes of Chapeltown Fforde Grene, HT Sports and Halton Moor, who have all starred in the national FA Sunday Cup in recent years. However, his ambition does not stop there, and he eventually wants his side to become one of the most revered in the county, and perhaps even further afield.
“I think the good start to the season has to be put down to the hard work and effort that the lads are all putting in.
“We also had a more constructive pre-season this year with games arranged early and training started pretty much straight after the previous season had ended in order to keep the players sharp,” he says.
“We have also signed some new players this year who have brought a new level and skill and class to the team.
“We feel that we can keep this effort and commitment going right up until the end of the season and win this league.
“The main target for this season is to win the league, and do so in a fashion that sets us apart from the rest of the teams in the league.
“We want teams from the divisions above looking down at us thinking they are going to have a tough game against us if we were to be promoted or drawn in a cup.
“We have played teams from Division One and Two this season in the cups. Unfortunately, we lost both of them.
“However, one was on penalties, and the other was a last-minute winner for the opposition. The aim going forward is to get as high as we can in the Leeds Combination league.
“We feel we have the structure and the players to go far in Sunday football. We want to be able to go on a summer tour with the players, and take the name of Moortown Albion around Europe and become a name to be feared within the Yorkshire area.”
Headquarters: Moortown Social Club
League: Division Three, Leeds Combination Sunday League
Club secretary: Nick Patterson
Manager: Dan Fenteman
Captain: Liam Fenteman
Top scorer: Reece George