Old Boys set a focus for future success

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HALFWAY through the football season Brighouse Old Boys continue to go forward both on and off the field.

The past few seasons the club, in partnership with Hipperholme and Lighcliffe High School, has been concentrating on getting the ground up to the standard required to compete in the West Yorkshire Premier Division.

The League was awarded Step7 in the Football League Pyramid status last summer which allows teams, providing they meet the relevant criteria, to be promoted to the North East Counties league.

Before teams can get promotion to the Premier Division they now have to have their facilities in place at the standard demanded by the league.

Club chairman Doug Tait said: “All the work was completed in readiness for the 2011-12 season and we now have excellent facilities which puts us in a great position to move forward.

Prior to pre-season the club committee agreed that our focus should be to concentrate on improving the club identity.

“We have three teams competing in the club but at the end of last season only the first team were playing in the club colours of red and navy blue so the priority was to sort out the kits.”

Committee member and second team manager Chris Wadsworth added:” We are very much a self sufficient club with players paying subs but these really just cover our ongoing running costs.

“As with most clubs to buy kits we have to rely on sponsorship but in difficult times this can be hard to come by, fortunately we have received brilliant support from managing director Ian Lister and design director Heather Lister at Websters Interiors in Brighouse, who were generous enough to provide us with funding for two new kits which means that all the teams now play in the club colours of red and blue.

“We are also in the process of ordering polo shirts for the players to be worn on match days and hopefully these should be available early in the new year; again all this adds to establishing and growing the club identity.”

On the field, the first team have got themselves into a great position for a promotion push and currently lie third in Division One on goal difference.

Having won their last five league matches first team manager Phil Garbe is obviously pleased with the team’s form which he is confident will continue into the new year following the two-week holiday break.

“We had an indifferent start to the season, winning two, drawing two and losing two of our first six games, but as the season progressed we have really got into our stride, including winning our last six league and cup games.

“We have had tough away games on grounds where we haven’t always fared to well but we have come through these games with hard earned but deserved victories,” said Garbe.

“The icing on the cake was our last game before the Christmas break when we beat league leaders Rothwell FC 1-0 at home. At the end of October they were the runaway leaders and had beaten us comprehensively at their place earlier in the season.

“We are still seven points behind but they are showing signs that their early season dominance is beginning to wane and are beginning to drop points.”

There have been a number of serious injuries but players who came up from the reserves such as Damian Place, Martin Newham, Calvin Lee and Pete Kuleczko have performed admirably., he said.

Rob Kenny is on the comeback trail after a hernia operation and is ready to have a run out with the reserves and Matty Roy who missed the last four games with a knee injury is back in contention along with Calvin Lee, now recovered from a hamstring strain

“ There is real determination in the team now as has been proven by recent results,” said Garbe.

Brighouse Old Boys are also through to the quarter finals of the League Cup and in the Albert Crabtree Halifax FA Cup they were unfortunate as in the previous year when they received a tough first round draw.

They were away to Ovenden West Riding, who are flying high in the West Riding County Premier League, but put up a great show losing on penalties after extra time following a 1-1 draw.

Leading goalscorer for the first team is captain James Fletcher with 12.

Goalkeeper Jason Hibbert came in for first team regular Gareth Betts, who was away at the beginning of the season and then sustained a serious shoulder injury. Hibbert performed well, his experience at playing at a higher standard coming to the fore.

The West Yorkshire Reserve side are in 10th position in Alliance Division One but a little too close for comfort to the relegation places.

Manager Chris Wadsworth says: “When you run reserve teams the challenge is always to get a settled team and we have used over 40 players this season.

“We didn’t get off to a flier at the start of the season and narrowly lost the first four games.

“We had a reasonably settled team in September and October, and results improved which saw us climb into mid table. Our last victory was against high flying Bardsey but it cost us dearly as ‘keeper Betts sustained a shoulder injury which could put him out for the season, and leading scorer, veteran Neil Butcher also suffered a hamstring tear which kept him out, although he should be returning in the new year.”

Injury problems and general lack of player availibility has meant the team along with Rob Moore’s Halifax League Division One side, have struggled to put out full strength squads and slipped down the table.

“On the plus side though we have had great support from assistant manager and coach Mark Booth at Brighouse Town, who has let us have Luke Hammond, Courtney Smith and young ‘keeper Joe Stead from the Under-19 squad to give them adult 11-a-side experience. This has not only boosted numbers but also quality in the squad.

“Hopefully, we will have players returning in the new year and with the likes of proven striker Adie Kelly, who rejoined the club from Wetherby Athletic.”

The Halifax side are next to the bottom of Division One, but manager Rob Moore said: “We are playing in a division where the majority of sides are first teams.

“As with the West Yorkshire Reserves we haven’t been able to field a settled side, but also we have been struggling on the goalkeeping front which has meant putting myself between the sticks.”

Brighouse Old Boys are based at the Old Pond, Hove Edge. They train at Park High School, Exley, on Tuesdays starting at 7.30pm, and can also be contacted at info@brighouseoldboys.org.uk