2006 was the year of the Celt...

BY WENDY WALKER Farsley Celtic's campaign for justice finally reached fruition in 2006.

Some 12 months after being kept down in the UniBond League by an unprecedented move by the Football Association, and a failure to overturn it in the High Court, Lee Sinnott's men finally got their remuneration.

A 2-1 extra-time victory over North Ferriby United in the Play-off final gave Farsley the Nationwide Conference North place which was so cruelly snatched away last May – and a cup double to boot was a nice bit of compensation for the miscarriage of justice.

Farsley made their now traditional slow start to the campaign, but things picked up in mid-October and then at the turn of the year simply gathered momentum.

A 1-0 victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels gave the Celts their first League Challenge Cup success in what they hope will prove their final year of Northern Premier League football, and a 2-1 triumph against Harrogate Town at Fleet Lane a week later ensured the West Riding County Cup was lifted by Farsley for the first time in five years.

But the "big one" in 2005-06 was always securing their rightful promotion to Conference North and that was duly accomplished this month.

In the end Celtic simply left themselves too much to do in the race for the title and automatic promotion. A stunning run-in by Harry Dunn's Blyth Spartans ensured the silverware headed to the north east.

Lottery

But a play-off spot was in the bag with weeks to spare and Farsley found themselves in the end-of-season lottery for the second successive season.

The semi-final couldn't have got much tougher – an away day at Marine – but a single goal from Simeon Bambrook ensured the Celts home advantage against Ferriby in the showpiece.

The final looked to be heading for penalties for the second successive year – Farsley lost out in a shootout at Workington after being dumped into the play-offs last time round – but Damian Reeves popped up with a goal to administer justice with just four minutes remaining.

The champagne which went flat 48 hours after Celtic were crowned champions last season – when Spennymoor United's expunged record was reinstated into the table by the FA, demoting Farsley to third place in the table – has now regained its sparkle.

And the bitter aftermath left in the mouth all last summer will be replaced by the sweet taste of success as Sinnott's men prepare for their first season in Conference North.

While it was a case of mission accomplished for Farsley Celtic, Frickley Athletic – who lost out to North Ferriby in the play-off semi-finals – so nearly pulled off mission impossible.

Gary Marrow's men started the season as favourites for relegation, but embarked on a success story of Watford proportions.

Frickley flew out of the blocks and left opponents with a nine-month wait for a seemingly impregnable bubble to burst.

In the end it was punctured by the pen-pushers, as the UniBond League chiefs again contrived to create a shambolic end to the season.

The "Spennymoor" situation returned to haunt the league in the last two months, with Runcorn FC Halton – who have since resigned from the set-up – struggling to field anything that resembled a football side during the last two months.

Frickley saw title rivals Blyth take a distinct advantage in what had become a two-horse race for the crown entering the final throes when they struck five times against a teenage Runcorn side to give them a crucial edge on goal difference.

Dunn's men took another step towards the title when they won courtesy of a late goal at Matlock – just 24 hours after the Derbyshire side had taken on Frickley in a heavily congested run-in.

Only Guiseley could then keep Athletic in the race but, having faced a huge fixture backlog themselves, a severely depleted side were no match for the champions-in-waiting in the north east.

To add insult to injury, it became public knowledge on the eve of the final game that Frickley faced a battle to persuade Conference chiefs to let them into Nationwide North due to ground issues.

By the time they took on North Ferriby in the Play-off semi-finals, Frickley were on the ropes. A penalty shootout defeat – their fourth of the season – was the final knockout blow.

Whitby Town proved the best of the rest, finishing just one place below the play-offs in sixth spot, but a massive nine points adrift of Ferriby.

Guiseley and Ossett Town – who improved considerably when Steve Kittrick stepped up from number two to replace Steve Richards mid-season – have work to do if they are going to be challenging next time round.

But news former chairmen Rob Northfield, Gary Douglas and John Gill have been around the table to discuss possible investment in Guiseley and taking the club forward, will be a huge boost to fans who have watched the club stagnate for the past decade.

Bradford Park Avenue and Wakefield-Emley face bigger problems after crashing through the trapdoor on the final day.

Phil Sharpe has the unfortunate distinction at being at both clubs during the season – but he can't really be blamed for either catastrophe.

Emley were clear of immediate danger when he left his post as Paul David's right-hand man to succeed Gary Brook at the Horsfall Stadium.

And Avenue, who suffered their second successive relegation following the drop from Conference North last time round, simply left it too late in the day to change the personnel.

Sharpe did lead Avenue to a President's Cup success, winning 1-0 at Ilkeston in the final, but the champagne was kept on ice and it was no longer required four days later when a last-day defeat at Radcliffe confirmed Bradford's worst fears.

But Sharpe, who initially took the job until the end of the season, should stay on as manager and the aim will be to bounce back at the first attempt.

The situation for Wakefield-Emley remains unclear. Wakefield are being touted for a move to the old rugby union ground at College Grove next season – and fans fear the "Emley" part of the title could finally be dropped.

It would signal the end of a failed experiment for the club, who once carried the Yorkshire flag high and proud.

An FA Cup third round appearance at West Ham United put Emley firmly on the map in 1998.

They left their traditional village home in 2000 in a bid to continue the quest for progress, a groundshare with Wakefield Trinty Wildcats rugby league club also leading to a change in the name to Wakefield & Emley.

That became Wakefield-Emley last time round and the "Emley" could finally go with a last-ditch bid to finally get a traditional rugby league town backing the soccer team in numbers.

Club bosses must surely be pondering what would have happened if fate had transpired in their favour in that first season in Wakefield back in 2000-01.

A stoppage-time goal in their penultimate game against title rivals Stalybridge Celtic – in front of a crowd of 3,708 – consigned the side managed by then long-serving boss Ronnie Glavin to a 3-2 defeat as a place in the Conference ebbed away at the last.

But while the focus will now surely be on "Wakefield", a section of that glorious past has ensured the name Emley will live on.

New

AFC Emley was formed at the start of the season by the likes of Richard Poulain – secretary of the old club and holding the same role at the new – and manager Ray Dennis.

After a successful debut in the West Yorkshire League, they have been admitted into Northern Counties East League Division One next season – along with Nostell Miners Welfare and Central Midlands League outfit Dinnington – to embark on a new rise up the pyramid system.

It's Harrogate Town who now boast the title as Yorkshire's highest-placed club outside of the Conference.

Neil Aspin's men went one better than last season when they secured a place in the Conference North play-offs courtesy of a 1-0 win at Stafford on the final day.

Needing a repeat performance to get to the final, Town were on the receiving end of the same scoreline at the same venue three days later.

But Harrogate did enjoy an heroic FA Cup run, taking Football League outfit Torquay United to a replay in the first round proper before a heartbreaking penalty shootout exit.

To cap a good year for the town, though, a stunning run-in by Harrogate Railway, which took them to third place in the NCE League, was rewarded when it was confirmed last week Martin Haresign's men will be playing UniBond League football next season.

wendy.walker@ypn.co.uk

Roll of honour 2005-06

BEST FA CUP PERFORMANCE

First Round proper: Harrogate Town;

Halifax Town.

BEST FA TROPHY PERFORMANCE

Round 2: Halifax Town.

BEST FA VASE PERFORMANCE

Quarter-finals: Pickering Town.

WEST RIDING COUNTY FA

County Cup: Winners Farsley Celtic, runners-up Harrogate Town.

Challenge Cup: Winners Bay Athletic, runners-up Sherburn White Rose.

Challenge Trophy: Winners Brighouse Town, runners-up Golden Lion Halifax.

Sunday Cup: Winners Walkers Arms Huddersfield, runners-up Silsden.

Sunday Trophy: Winners Carleton Hotel, runners-up Hambleton.

BARKSTON ASH FA

Challenge Cup: Winners Aberford Alb, runners-up Garforth Tn Res.

JB Plows Cup: Winners FC Boston, runners-up Selby Olympia WMC A.

Templenewsam Cup: Winners Thorpe Utd, runners-up Aberford Alb.

Burton Cup: Winners Sherburn WR Res, runners-up Thorpe Utd Res.

CASTLEFORD & DISTRICT FA

Challenge Cup: Winners: Glasshoughton U-19s, runners-up New Airdale.

Sunday Cup: Winners Pontefract S&S, runners-up Britt.

HARROGATE & DISTRICT FA

Whitworth Cup: Winners Knaresborough Tn, runners-up Harrogate Railway.

Sunday Trophy: Winners Harrogate Vets, runners-up West Park.

Hulme Cup: Winners Empress, runners-up Boroughbridge.

Sunday Cup: Winners Harrogate CSC, runners-up Sherwood.

HEAVY WOOLLEN DISTRICT FA

Wheatley Cup: Winners Howden Clough, runners-up Wheelwright GSOB.

Brook Butler Cup: Littetown v Drighlington (at Beck Lane tonight, kick-off 6.30pm).

LEEDS & DISTRICT FA

Senior Cup: Winners Leeds Met Carnegie, runners-up Trinity & All Saints Old Boys.

District Cup: Winners Farnley, runners-up Bramley Juniors Old Boys.

Sunday Senior Cup: Winners HT Sports, runners-up Halton Moor.

Sunday District Cup: Winners Colton, runners-up New Rover.

Sunday Jubillee Cup: Winners Adel Rovers, runners-up Horsforth Fleece.

Inter-League Cup: Winners Yorkshire Old Boys, runners-up Work Inc.Com.

WAKEFIELD & DISTRICT FA

Challenge Cup: Winners Hall Green Utd, runners-up Eastmoor.

Open Invitation Challenge Cup: Winners Hall Green, runners-up Horbury Tn.

NATIONWIDE CONFERENCE

Champions: Accrington.

Play-off Winners: Hereford.

Nationwide North

Champions: Northwich Victoria.

Play-off winners: Stafford Rangers.

UNIBOND LEAGUE

Premier Division Champions: Blyth Spartans.

Play-off winners: Farsley Celtic.

First Division Champions: Mossley.

Play-off winners: Kendal Town.

League Challenge Cup: Winners Farsley Celtic, runners-up Stocksbridge Park Steels.

President's Cup: Winners Bradford Park Avenue, runners-up Ilkeston.

Chairman's Cup: Winners Blyth Spartans, runners-up Ossett Town.

Peter Swales Memorial Trophy: Winners Blyth Spartans, runners-up Farsley Celtic.

Region's top scorer: James Walshaw (Ossett Town) 32.

NCE LEAGUE

Premier Division Champions: Buxton.

Also promoted: Harrogate Railway.

Division One Champions: Carlton Town.

Also promoted: Retford United.

League Challenge Cup: Winners Liversedge, runners-up Sheffield.

President's Cup: Winners Buxton, runners-up Selby Town.

Wilkinson Sword Trophy: Winners Retford, runners-up Yorkshire Amateur.

Region's top scorer: Graham Marchant (Harrogate Railway) 33.

WEST RIDING COUNTY AMATEUR LEAGUE

Mumtaz Premier Division Champions: Bay Ath.

Runners-up: Campion.

Leading scorer: Mick Burke (Campion) 30.

Premier Division Cup: Winners Campion.

Division 1 Champions: Hall Green United.

Runners-up: Lower Hopton .

Leading scorer: Gavin Birmingham (Lower Hopton) 29.

Division 1 Cup: Winners Steeton.

Division 2 Champions: Meltham Athletic.

Runners-up: Westbrook YMCA.

Leading scorer: Tom Mathews (Meltham Athletic) 41.

Division 2 Cup: Winners Meltham Athletic.

Division 1 Res Champions: Lower Hopton.

Runners-up: Storthes Hall.

Leading scorer: Mark Hepworth (Lower Hopton) 21.

Division 2 Res Champions: Golcar United.

Runners-up: Not yet decided.

Leading scorer: Chris Alderson (Otley Tn) 27.

Reserve Divs Cup: Winners Brighouse Tn.

WEST YORKSHIRE LEAGUE

Premier Division Champions: Not yet decided.

Runners-up: Not yet decided.

Division 1 Champions: Sherburn White Rose.

Runners-up: Street Work Soccer.

Division 2 Champions: Field Sports & Social.

Runners-up: Old Headingley Rangers.

Premier Alliance Champions: Rothwell Ath Res.

Runners-up: Whitkirk Wanderers Res.

Reserve Division Champions: Churwell Lions Res.

Runners-up: Ripon City Magnet Res.

Castleford Sunday League

Premier Division Champions: Oddfellows Arms.

Runners-up: Nevison Leap.

Top-four winners: Nevison Leap.

Division 1 Champions: The Britt.

Runners-up: Carleton Hotel.

Top-four winners: The Britt.

Division 2 Champions: Queens Head.

Runners-up: Chequerfield.

Top-four winners: Queens Head.

Premier Division Cup: Winners Nevison Leap.

Division 1 Cup: Winners Carleton Hotel.

Division 2 Cup: Winners Anglers Athletic.

Bob Smith Founders Cup: Winners The Britt.

Oakworth Open Cup: Winners Carleton Hotel.

Claro Sunday League

Division One Champions: Sherwood.

Runners-up: FC Boston.

Division Two Champions: Queens Pk Roundhay.

Runners-up: Wetherby Athletic.

Division Three Champions: Sherwood Res.

Runners-up: Dishforth.

Division Four Champions: East Keswick.

Runners-up: Wetherby Athletic Reserves.

Ackrill Cup: Winners Sherwood.

Challenge Cup: Winners Harrogate CSC.

HEAVY WOOLLEN LEAGUE

Premier Division Champions: Thornhill Lees.

Runners-up: Towngate.

Division 1 Champions: Moorside Inn.

Runners-up: New inn United.

Division 2 Champions: Mirfield Town.

Runners-up: Birkenshaw Reserves.

Division 3 Champions: Whistler.

Runners-up: George Healey United.

Division 4 Champions: Malt Shovel, Cleck.

Runners-up: Navigation.

Heavy Woollen Challenge Cup: Winners Towngate.

Gate Challenge Cup: Winners Gomersal.

LEEDS COMBINATION LEAGUE

Premier Division Champions: Beech Celtic.

Runners-up: HT Sports.

Division 1 Champions: Amaranth 93.

Runners-up: Queenswood Social.

Division 2 Champions: Colton.

Runners-up: Beechwood WMC.

Division 3 Champions: Morley Cricket and Sp.

Runners-up: Bay Horse Sunday.

Division 4 Champions: Pudsey 2005.

Runners-up: Adel Rovers.

Sanford Cup: Winners Whinmoor Amateurs.

Luty Cup: Winners Queenswood Social

Mawson Cup: Winners Adel Rovers.

Leeds Red Triangle League

Hainsworth Premier Champions: Rawdon OB.

Runners-up: Wykebeck Arms United.

Jackson Trophies Champions: Queen.

Runners-up: Halton Moor.

Metcalfe Challenge Cup: Winners Yew Tree.

Mark Kirkham Senior Cup: Winners Swinnow Athletic.

Parkfield Suite Cup: Winners Bainbridge Utd.

Albert West All Sports Awards Cup: Winners Amaranth.

Longmoor Cup: Winners Farnley Nags Head.

Leeds Sunday League

Premier Division Champions: Old White Hart.

Runners-up: Engine.

Division 1 Champions: Roundhay Athletic.

Also promoted: Bramley Town.

Division 2 Champions: Seacroft.

Also promoted: Old Halfway House.

Division 3 Champions: Oldfield Whites.

Also Promoted: Burley United.

MSF Trophy: Winners Old White Hart.

President's Trophy: Winners Railway.

Spen Valley League

Premier Division Champions: Salfia Rangers.

Runners-up: Wellington Wanderers.

Division 1 Champions: Old Magnet.

Also promoted: Wyke Wanderers.

Wakefield Saturday League

Premier Division Champions: Airedale Celtic.

Runners-up: Sandal Athletic.

Division 1 Champions: White Bear Kexbor'.

Runners-up: Fleece Horbury.

Division 2 Champions: Ryecroft Sports.

Runners-up: Ferrybridge Amateurs.

Division 3 Champions: Stanley United.

Runners-up: White Rose.

Callaghan Cup: Winners Sandal Athletic.

Premier Division Cup: Winners Sandal Ath.

Division 1 Cup: Winners Fleece Horbury.

Division 2 Cup: Winners Stanley Arms.

Division 3 Cup: Winners White Rose.

Wharfedale Sunday League

Premier Division Champions: FC Clothiers.

Runners-up: Shipley.

New Bridge Senior Cup: Winners Shipley.

Wharfedale Triangle League

Premier Division Champions: Rawdon.

Runners-up: Crossflatts.

Division 1 Champions: Otley Wharfeside.

Also promoted: Yeadon Town.

Premier Division Cup: Winners Rawdon.

Division 1 Cup: Winners Otley Wharfeside.

WorkInc.com League

Premier Division Champions: Headingley Fusion.

Runners-up: Old Ball.

Division 1 Champions: Double L.

Also promoted: Fox, Northern Star Res.

Grahame Stowe Bateson Cup: Winners Harp.

YORKSHIRE OLD BOYS LEAGUE

Senior Division A Champions: Yorkshire Bank.

Runners-up: Old Rovers.

Senior Division B Champions: Hudds Amateur.

Runners-up: Heckmondwike GSOB.

Division 1 Champions: Wortley FC.

Runners-up: Bramley Juniors.

Division 2 Champions: Alwoodley OB.

Runners-up: Adel OB Res.

Division 3 Champions: Wortley FC Res.

Runners-up: Trinity & All Saints OB Res.

Division 4 Champions: Shire Academicals.

Runners-up: Griffordians III.

Division 5 Champions: East Leeds Trinity OB.

Runners-up: Colton Academicals III.

Marflitt Trophy: Winners Heckmondwike GSOB (aet), runners-up Griffordians.

Hancock Cup: Winners Wortley FC Res, runners-up Huddersfield Amateur Res.

Hodgson Cup: Winners Centralians III, runners-up Griffordians IIII.

Yorkshire Old Boys Shield: Winners Malet Lambert YC, runners-up Trinity & All Saints OB.

2006-07 LINE UPs

Conference National

Aldershot Tn

Burton Albion

Cambridge United

Crawley Town

Dagenham & Redbridge

Exeter City

Forest Green Rovers

Gravesend & Northfleet

Grays Athletic

Halifax Town

Kidderminster Harriers

Morecambe

Northwich Victoria

Oxford United

Rushden & Diamonds

St Albans City

Southport

Stafford Rangers

Stevenage Borough

Tamworth

Weymouth

Woking

York City

Nationwide North

Alfreton Town

Altrincham

Barrow

Blyth Spartans

Droylsden

Farsley Celtic

Gainsborough Trinity

Harrogate Town

Hinckley United

Hucknall Town

Hyde United

Kettering Town

Lancaster City

Leigh RMI

Moor Green

Nuneaton Borough

Scarborough (TBC)

Stalybridge Celtic

Vauxhall Motors

Worcester City

Workington

UNIBOND PREMIER DIVISION

AFC Telford United

Ashton United

Burscough

Fleetwood Town

Frickley Athletic

Gateshead

Grantham Town

Guiseley

Hednesford Town

Ilkeston Town

Kendal Town

Leek Town

Lincoln United

Marine

Matlock Town

Mossley

North Ferriby United

Ossett Town

Prescot Cables

Radcliffe Borough

Whitby Town

Witton Albion

UNIBOND FIRST DIVISION

Alsager Town

Bamber Bridge

Belper Town

Bradford Park Avenue

Bridlington Town

Brigg Town

Buxton

Cammell Laird

Chorley

Clitheroe

Colwyn Bay

Eastwood Town

Goole AFC

Gresley Rovers

Harrogate Railway

Kidsgrove Athletic

Ossett Albion

Rossendale United

Shepshed Dynamo

Skelmersdale United

Stocksbridge Park Steels

Wakefield-Emley

Warrington Town

Woodley Sports

NCE PREMIER DIVISION

Armthorpe Welfare

Arnold Town

Brodsworth Welfare

Carlton Town

Eccleshill United

Garforth Town

Glapwell

Glasshoughton Welfare

Hallam

Liversedge

Long Eaton United

Maltby Main

Mickleover Sports

Pickering Town

Retford United

Selby Town

Sheffield

Shirebrook Town

Sutton Town

Thackley

NCE DIVISION ONE

AFC Emley

Borrowash Victoria

Dinnington Town

Gedling Town

Hall Road Rangers

Lincoln Moorlands

Nostell Miners Welfare

Parkgate

Pontefract Collieries

Rossington Main

South Normanton Athletic

Staveley Miners Welfare

Tadcaster Albion

Teversal

Winterton Rangers

Worsbrough Bridge

Yorkshire Amateur

TBC = To be confirmed