FORMER Leeds United player John Hendrie and Labour MP John Grogan were present at Ben Rhydding Sports Club, as Ilkley Town officially opened their 3G pitch to the public.
The event marked Ilkley’s first chance to bring the community together in a day of celebration for the town. And Ilkley chairman Richard Giles said: “This is a very special day. Improving participation is a huge aim for us. We take children aged three or four years old and they receive coaching through the club until they are 18 and older, helping them to become the best they can be.
“We have 30 teams – girls, boys, men’s, ladies and veterans with more than 1,500 people involved with the club each week.
“The pitch is also being used by Ilkley Grammar School, Bradford City Academy and Burley Trojans. Allowing for all these users, more than 1,000 footballers are using the 3G pitch every week.”
Grogan, Labour MP for Keighley and Ilkley, was excited for the benefits that the new facility would bring the town, he said: “This is a magnificent development which will last for years. I want to reflect on how the standard of 3G pitches has improved drastically since they first started being introduced around 30 years ago.”
Hendrie, who spent the majority of his career at Bradford City and father of current Ilkley player Joe Hendrie, believes pitches like these could lead to a golden era in terms of youth player development in the area.
“It’s great to see a pitch like this in Ilkley, where the boys and girls can practice their skills” he said.
“When I was a young boy all we had to practice on was muddy pitches which is very hard, but if you have a facility like this it makes you want to get out there with the ball, which is fantastic for the community.”
With Ilkley in cup action over the weekend, and Premier Division leaders Beeston having their game postponed, Leeds City took full advantage to move level on points at the top, with their 5-2 win at Hall Green United. James Burgess came off the bench to score twice for City on their way to victory.
Shelley also kept the pressure on their title rivals, defeating Headingley 3-1 at Weetwood Playing Fields.
Sherburn White Rose failed to build on back-to-back wins, after a narrow 1-0 loss to Field, but fellow relegation strugglers Pool were unable to capitalise, after their match against Hartshead was postponed.
Horbury Town made it three wins from their last four, defeating Hunslet 3-0, while Huddersfield Amateur were yet again on the wrong side of a goal fest, losing 5-3 to Robin Hood Athletic, rounding up the Premier Division action.
With a raft of games off in Division One, the few teams taking to the pitch had a great chance to move up the table.
Boroughbridge and Wetherby Athletic remain sixth and seventh respectively after their goalless draw, while Leeds Modernians beat Kippax 5-1 in the only other game of the weekend.
In Division Two, goals from Jamie Halsall, Ben Jones and Aaron Rothery were only enough to earn a 3-3 draw for Old Centralians against Kellingley Welfare.
That draw allowed Hampsthwaite United to jump them into ninth in the table, after their 5-4 triumph over Swillington Saints, thanks to a Josh Underwood hat-trick.
Division Two’s basement club Garforth Rangers were left disappointed after their 3-0 loss to Ripon City, after being level 0-0 at half-time. Sitting just behind the title battle, Ripon were determined to pick up three points against the West Yorkshire League’s only winless side, and second-half goals from Danny Edmunds, Martin Hutchinson and Kai Tinsley duly delivered the result.