An exodus of players has been overcome by a wave of youth at Field AFC this season, who moved into third on Tuesday after a resounding win over Oxenhope Recreation.
The Bradford side bounced back from a narrow defeat at champions-in-waiting Carlton on Saturday to hammer the struggling side 8-1 thanks to star turns from a handful of the club’s young starlets. First-team coach Barry Dunne said how proud he is of the way his club have gone about their business.
“We’ve done great,” he said. “From the beginning of the season to now we’ve lost seven starting first teamers to clubs in higher divisions and the way we’ve managed to keep it all going is something to be proud of.
“Field are a totally amateur club. All the lads pay their subs and we are completely self-funded. We’ve relied on lads coming in from the reserves no matter what their age and they’ve done great.”
No fewer than eight regular reserve players featured in the game on Tuesday, in what Dunne described as a solid performance.
“Oxenhope are in a similar position to us in that they’ve lost a few players,” he said. “They’re not a bad side by any means, but they’re not like they were.
“It was a good, solid performance from what was a very young side. If we’d have been playing a top-half team it might’ve been different, but we were able to get the ball down and play football, which is something we always like to do at Field.”
Tuesday’s win was indeed inspired by youngsters. A hat-trick from 20-year-old Emmott Parr-Gallagher included an early wonder goal and there was a brace for the 19-year-old Dan Summers. Dunne also singled out another scorer, 18-year-old Jack Webster, as one to watch out for.
“They did great, and showed some real quality,” he said. “Our first-team manager, Steve Vickers, has been in junior football for a long time and has spent time at clubs like Wyke Wanderers, and we get a few of these young lads from those sorts of clubs.
“We’ve thrown lads into the side at 16 or 17. Our attitude is that if you’re good enough you’ll play, no matter what your age, and the lads have repaid us for putting that faith in them.”
Losing so many players would be a bone of contention for most local coaches, but Dunne sees it more of a pat on the back for the way the club handles itself: “We’ve got no problem with lads going to play higher in the leagues.
“You can’t blame them – it’s what they should be doing, challenging themselves as best they can.”
Players have departed for Northern Counties clubs such as Campion and Brighouse Town, among others.
“If we’re developing players to go to some of these clubs and we can still maintain where we’ve been in the league, then we’re doing all right.”
Club developments continue, and Dunne is looking forward to a committee meeting on Saturday during which plans will be laid down for the club’s future.
“We’ve got a few things going on,” he said. “We’ve got good facilities at Field, but there’s an issue with drainage which hasn’t helped us in some games.
“We try to get the ball down and play and the pitch has evened games up a bit. We’re looking into the possibility of bringing an extra coach in, too, in Lee Burgess, who is a local lad who has done all his coaching badges and has spent a year coaching in Singapore. He was at Leeds and Halifax, I think, so he’d be a good addition.
“We try to do things the right way.”
Another club in a positive mood is Carlton Athletic, who bounced back from their first league defeat of the season to record a 6-0 midweek win at Sherburn, as well as Saturday’s 2-0 win over Field. Scott Hargreaves bagged four in the Sherburn win. Josh Stacey’s winner was enough to see Horbury Town sneak past high-flying Pool last Wednesday, before his side were edged out 2-1 on Saturday by an Ashley Austin-inspired Headingley.
Sherburn’s week didn’t get any better as they shipped six more against second-placed Leeds City in a 6-1 defeat. Barrie Frankland continued his red-hot form for the Adel side with a late brace.
Further down the table, Shelley deprived Brighouse Old Boys of a rare point thanks to a Nigel Danby strike, whilst Wetherby’s 1-0 win over Knaresborough Town was cancelled out by Oxenhope’s 2-1 win over Hunslet.