Marsden Football Club - Introduction of the Juniors
However, a glimmer of hope had arisen in 1979-80 with the introduction of two Junior teams at Under 12 and 14 which then extended to Under 16s the following season. The Committee were intent on bringing playing success back to the club, in time, and a major part of their plan was to harness as much junior talent as possible. This was to prove a master stroke as in subsequent years a string of players were to come up through the ranks to provide the backbone of a highly successful club during the 80s and 90s.
Junior football had been introduced to Marsden by Bob Simmonite in 1977-78. He started with an Under 14 team playing up at the Hemplow in the Huddersfield Sunday Junior League and the following season added an Under 12's. It was during that season, 1978-79, talks began that lead to Bob agreeing to bring his teams under the umbrella of Marsden AFC in 1979-80.
The Under 16s developed from a team Roy Plowman had run as Slaithwaite United in 1979-80 playing at Crow Lane, Milnsbridge and changing in the nearby school. He agree to bring it into Marsden AFC all be it he was no longer able to manage the team. Mick Herbert took over responsibility and in that first season 1980-81, took them to a credible third place. Meanwhile the Under 14s won their league whilst the Under 12s finished runners-up (quite a contrast in fortunes than that experienced by the open age teams). Pride of place that season went to Ian Wadsworth who scored over 100 goals for the Under 14s and was awarded their Player of the Year prize. Lee Martin won it for the Under 12s and Neil Bellamy the Under 16s.
1981-82 saw the necessary introduction of an Under 18 team in the Saturday Red Triangle League in order to ensure continuity from the 16s and then hopefully into open age. They finished in mid-table and as commendable runners-up in the League Cup, loosing out to Elland Athletic 0-3 in the replay following a 2-2 draw. The Hollins Glen field at Slaithwaite (changing at the Star) was hired from Kirklees instead of Crow Lane, all be it due to its location it more often resembled a paddy field rather than a football ground.
1982-83 really saw the youth policy begin to pay off with both the Under 18s and 14s winning their leagues. The 16s finished fourth and the 12s in mid-table.