WEST Yorkshire League Division Two outfit Garforth Rangers claim they are pleased with their progress despite suffering 19 straight losses this season.
Performances have improved dramatically for Rangers after the Christmas break, with defeats now coming by narrow margins, rather than the one-sided affairs seen in the first half of the campaign.
Club secretary Neil Wormald said: “The average age of the side is probably around 19.
“We were getting hammered but now in the second half of the season, while we are not winning, the results are considerably closer than they were.
“We are realistic and know at this point in time we are not about to start chasing promotion any time in the next couple of years, though we genuinely believe we can be competitive within mid-table.
“We are certainly not disheartened and keep look forward. A lot of our opposition have commented on what a young side we have, but it bodes well for a couple of years’ time.
“As a club this is very positive because we have around 400 players and the vast majority of them are juniors coming through.
“We have a conveyer belt of junior boys graduating from the academy every single year, which is why we have had a few 16-year-olds in the side this year, and more will come through next season.
“It’s just slow progress but this league is such a high standard.”
Wormald believes the constant stream of sides joining the West Yorkshire League in Division Two makes it hard for his team to progress up the table season on season.
He explained: “I have been involved with this league for the past three seasons now, and if you look there are some sides who, when I started, were in our league and are now in the top half of the Premier Division. Look at Rawdon Old Boys for example. They joined the West Yorkshire League last year, won Division Two, and now they are in the hunt to win Division One.
“This season four teams joined from the Harrogate League and two from the Huddersfield League and they are all good sides, so the only aim we can have is to keep progressing. We will certainly be joining Division Two again next season, there is no doubt about that.”
Wormald also had mixed feelings on the news that the proposed merger between the West Yorkshire League and County Amateur League has collapsed.
“To be honest we were not against the merge, but I would say if it had happened and a third division was created, then we would have been looking at a relegation battle, which of course we didn’t want.”
He explained: “However, in terms of the bigger picture it would have been good for the West Yorkshire League, but that doesn’t matter now it’s not going ahead.”
Only a handful of fixtures were played last weekend.
In the Premier Division, Ilkley Town remain six points off top spot despite their 2-0 win at home to bottom club Pool.
A heavy pitch made for a rather unattractive game of football, but late goals from Robin Layton and Lee Spires secured a vital three points for Town.
The win was even more significant for Ilkley as leaders Beeston St Anthony’s were the only other Premier team to play on Saturday, as they defeated Ilkley’s opponents for next week Horbury Town 4-2.
James Allan gave Beeston an early lead, finding the net after only three minutes.
Although Joseph Hill netted a second 38 minutes in, Gibril Bojang’s strike meant it was 2-1 at half-time.
However, St Anthony’s rallied after the break to wrap up the three points, thanks to goals from Gareth Groves and Joe Wood.
In Division One, Kippax picked up their first win in four after thrashing Rothwell 6-2, to move one point off seventh-placed Wetherby Athletic.