SALTS are delighted with their experiences so far after transferring to the West Yorkshire League for 2018-19, writes JAMIE WOODHOUSE.
The side left the West Riding County Amateur League at the end of the last season with their reserves joining the Alliance Division Two, while their first team was accepted into the Premier Division.
Salts committee member and reserves manager Vinny Gott said: “The West Riding County Amateur League is on its knees with teams dropping out and their decision to go down to one division didn’t suit us because we had two teams in the league.
“We decided to apply to join the West Yorkshire Premier Division and it’s turned out to be a great move for us.
“It’s going to be tough for the first team because they lost a few players at the start of the season. Around three of them went to play at a higher level and another couple of players were starting a family so wanted to spend more time with them, something you can completely understand.
“That loss of five or six players means the team are having to rebuild, but, personally, I think they will survive. They beat my reserve side on Saturday in a District cup game, so I’ve seen enough to make me think they are good enough.”
Gott believes the level of organisation that teams in the Premier Division display is an indication of the league’s strength and is keen for Salts to continue testing themselves against these sides.
“The clubs in the West Yorkshire League are much better run,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are a few sides in the County Amateur League who are well run, names like Golcar United and Steeton come to mind, but in the majority, the division suffered in the last couple of years from poor organisation.
“The Premier Division is classed as step 7, but I see it as playing at step six-and-a-half because the teams and the league are that well run. So, we may have transferred to a league on the same level of the football pyramid, but it feels like we have stepped up.”
The West Yorkshire League also presents the challenge of more long-distance trips for both the senior team and the reserves, but although a noticeable change, it is one that the club is loving, according to Gott.
“The reserves are loving the away games, because we’re winning,” he explained.
“If you’re not winning, then it can become a bit of an ordeal. But right now, it’s great because it’s a new experience for both sides so they’re enjoying it. Trips to places like Sherburn are a lot longer than you think, but it’s a good thing for us. We are enjoying playing against more organised teams, because we see ourselves as a well-run club, and we are coming up against clubs just like us, so that’s something we are delighted with.
“The away trips are good as well because a lot of the time we play on good pitches. The County Amateur League was going down the road of playing on 4G pitches and often the pitches were fenced in and had wires running across them. But now we are going to clubs who play on a good surface, have nice clubhouses, and we can look at them and think ‘yes, they’re like us’.”
Salts’ first team faced off against their reserves at the weekend in a Bradford District Cup tie, meaning they could do nothing about being at the foot of the Premier Division table.