Marsden Football Club - Late 90s Back to the top

This was to prove to be the most successful decade since the 50s heydays. In 1990-91 promotion was gained to the WRCAL Premier Division after finishing runners-up in Division I. There then followed a run of 2 League Championship victories and 5 H and D FA Challenge Cup wins in the 9 years 1991-92 through to 1999-00, the 'Double' being achieved in 1997-98. Four players were fortunate enough to win all seven medals, Neil Bellamy, Nicky Howe, Malcolm Cunningham and John Buckley (Simon Lord unluckily having missed out on the last of the finals due to injury thus finishing with 6). No one could doubt they were the best local team in this period.

Questions had been asked at the time the club moved in to the WRCAL in season 1987-88 after finishing 4th in the H and D League Division 2 the previous year, over their ability to cope with this higher level, but had now proved beyond doubt they made the correct decision. Emphasising this was the move of other clubs in the district following Marsden’s example. Golcar Utd, 1993-94, Storthes Hall, 1995-96 and Bay Athletic, 1996-97 soon followed and still remain along with Kirkburton, Lepton Highlanders, AFC Emley and Huddersfield YMCA leaving Huddersfield area clubs dominating the league in 2012.

The late 80s and early 90s saw finances suffer even though sales continued above £30,000 per annum. The 5 years, June1987 to May 1992, showed just over £11,000 of losses mostly due to having to employ a steward for four of these at a cost of over £19,000. Crisis meetings early in 1992 resulted in sufficient volunteers coming forward to man the bar and the resulting cost savings on the steward plus other measures taken, saw the club move back in to average profits of £3,400 the following 7 years. 1995-96 producing a record profit of £6,021 on second best ever Sales of £38,378.

1990-91 (7 teams)

The Premier team 'came good' gaining runners-up spot in Division I they were promoted to the Premier Division after just 4 years back in the league. A job well done for coach Pete Kenyon in his second year in charge. Sunday 14th November 1990 saw Marsden take on John Quinn's Select XI - a professional team playing in the Umbro Veterans’ League, raising money for charities sponsored by Umbro. The Veterans duly won 4-0 with £90 raised by a collection going to Mencap in Manchester. Highlight of the day was the appearance of former Liverpool and England skipper, Emlyn Hughes. An estimated 400 plus turned up.

1991-92 (7 teams)

The first year back in the Premier Division with Pete Kenyon starting his second year in charge, but standing down in November. Local ‘boy’ Geoff Hall took over a team that had only picked up one point in its first 11 matches. His charismatic style of management had the desired effect as with 17 points from the remaining 15 games, they finished 11th out of 14 teams. The team further responded by winning the H and D FA Challenge Cup, beating Honley 2-1 in a pulsating game on 6th May at Leeds Road. John Buckley and Simon Lord the scorers. Team:- Brian Whittaker, Neil Bellamy, Simon Lord, Nick Howe, Terry Dunne, Ian Hollingworth, Paul Donaghey, John Buckley, Wayne Knapton, Tony Brownson, Paul Joyce (Capt) Subs: Darrell Wilkins, Malcolm Cunningham and Murray Schofield.

The 4th September 1991 saw what was to be the first of eight annual reunions at the clubhouse, where any past and present players and officials along with wives and girlfriends could attend. Among them were:-

Stanley Matthews 70 years, Stanley Mellor 71 years, Lewis Muskett 68, Thomas Knoakes 66, Walter Best 75, Edward Knoakes 69, Ronnie Hellawell 78, George Edmund 77, Harry Bennington 76, C B Armitage 77, Frank Vautrey 73, Eric Bennington 59, Walter Bottomley 91, Norman Wrigby 59, Fred Warne 71
Derek Francis 58, J. Pollard 71, Trevor Kaye 54, Reginald Lee 65, Herbert Kaye 66, Norris Ward 77, Bernard Platt 86, Clifford Dean 68 

The clubhouse was packed out, a buffet provided and the oldest attending, ex-trainer Walter Bottomley was presented with a club tie and a bottle of whisky

On the financial, side matters deteriorated in late 1991 and early 1992 largely due to a lapse in bar procedures including money and stock 'going missing', with some stock having been stolen from inside the compound. A members 'crisis meeting' was held 18th March which had the desired effect in tightening up controls and increasing fundraising efforts. It was also agreed to revert back to voluntary bar staff, thus making the stewardess redundant.

Also Beryl Irving was appointed the new treasurer from 21st April and her no-nonsense approach was to prove vital in helping turn finances round. The end of the 4th Quarter to the year end 31st May saw bar sales margins hit 34.1% against the full year average of a record low of 28.1% from the previous years 33.6%.The loss for the year of £3,096, given all that had gone on, was not unexpected.

1992-93 (7 teams)

Geoff Hall brought in Billy Noakes as his assistant and although having an average league performance, finishing 8th, they featured in the final of the District FA Challenge Cup again, but in attempting to retain the trophy lost 1-4 to Hepworth Utd in extra time (1-1 full time). Simon Lord's 65th minute strike looked to have won the game but with 5 minutes  remaining Hepworth equalised, then buoyed on by this went on to victory. This meant Simon was top scorer for the season with 17 goals.

Team:- Lawlor, Bellamy, Cunningham, Howe, Joyce, Shackelton, Donaghey (Knapton 80minutes ), Buckley, Dunne, Lord, Wilkins (Brownson 105 minutes ). This was the same squad all but two that had won the previous year. The Under 18s went on to win Division II

The season had started on Sunday 23rd August with Marsden taking on Rock in the H and D FA Charity Shield at Fall Lane. Rock having won the Sunday Challenge Cup the previous season whilst Marsden won the Saturday equivalent. Marsden took the lead twice through Simon Lord then John Buckley only to see Rock equalise. Terry Dunne hit the winner 3 minutes  into extra time.

27th December 1992  Charity match at Fall Lane saw Geoff Headey's  Over 35s beat Marsden 5-4. Geoff was vice chairman of Huddersfield Town and was challenged to a match by Brian Shears following a game at Leeds Road. Kirkwood Hospice netted £420 through the sale of match programmes, raffles and a bucket collection. Some 250 spectators enjoyed the match in which high profile Town ex players Trevor Cherry and Steve Kindon participated.

Off the field the measures taken in early 1992 bore fruit. Sales increased £2,000 to £35,262 whilst margins increased from 28.1% to 35.8%, the highest so far achieved. Without the Stewardess, savings of over £5,000 were immediately made with the resulting profit of £4,251 a record at that time.

1993-94 ( 6 teams - lost the U18's)

Geoff Hall's magic touch paid off in this, his third year, as the team won the Premier Division Championship for the first time, by 2 points from Field AFC. This was clinched in the last match at Rawdon OB with a 1-1 draw, John Buckley the scorer who also topped the season’s highest with 16 goals. Having started the season with 6 straight wins the team remained unbeaten till the New Year, then stuttered in January and February. But closing off with one defeat in the last 10 games secured the title.

Finances more or less held their own and although sales dropped £4,500 to £30,980, a further lift in margins to 39.7% (from 35.8%) helped out. With Reps and Renewals increasing by £800 due to refurbishment at the Hemplow, break even was an acceptable position to be in.

1994-95 (6 teams)

Geoff Hall kept the trophies coming into Fall Lane as the team won the H and D FA Challenge cup again, beating Scholes at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium in May 1-0. Simon Lord hitting the winner in extra time. Team:- Wraight, Bellamy, Cunningham, Joyce, Howe, Cattling (Wilson 50mins), Dunne (Hollingworth), Lord, Buckley, Caton, Wilkins. Finishing a creditable 5th in the league, the highlight was on 4th March when beating Rawdon OB at Fall Lane 11-1.John Buckley probably scored the quickest goal ever for the club ‘crashing home a spectacular 20-yarder with just 11 seconds on the clock’. He scored 4 in total. Wilkins 3, Caton 2, Dunne and Lord added the others.

Overall John finished highest scorer with 25 goals then Sean Caton followed with 17.Sunday 9th April 1995 and  ‘The Geoff Lodge Come-back Match’ took place, Geoff Lodge XI v Geoff Hall XI. This was set up to satisfy Geoff’s desire to turn out once again, so ex players from the 60s and 70s were invited to participate.Born 11th August 1936 (then 58 years old) Geoff had become ‘part of the furniture’ at Fall Lane.

Teams:- Geoff Lodge, Steve Pollard, Bob Lambert, Phil Warwick, Mick Hall, Ian Mellor, Andy Beardsell, Geoff Hall, Billy Noakes, Lee Noakes, Jonathon Pigford. Brian Peacock, Rodney McLaughlin, Clive Goldsbrough, Cavan Lawlor, Michael Lightowlers, Eddie Broadley, Bob Simmonite, Darren Armitage, Steve Goldsbrough, Steve Shaw, Peter Lightowlers.

A somewhat chaotic event was refereed by Brian Irving, the two Geoffs played in the same team and there's no record of the score!!

There were no surprises on the finances with sales moving up to £33,774 and margins steady at 39.3% resulting in a profit of £3,271

1995-96 (7 teams)

With Geoff having decided to retire, the by now seasoned players Paul Joyce and Nick Howe took over the reins. Both were well established at the club and their policy at this stage was one of consolidation of the position the team had reached. They both continued to play in the team and another 5th place in the league was a decent start to their management career. Especially so, as they beat local rivals Golcar Utd to that place on goal difference, having lost both games to them back in September, 0-3 and 0-1. Sean Caton topped the scoring with 18 goals and proved a prime example of the clubs' policy of backing the Juniors. He started his career at Marsden and worked his way through the age groups into senior football and was always a prolific scorer.

Financially all the hard work began to pay off due to continued tight control with an almost £5,000 increase in sales to £38,378 (2nd ever highest) and a jump in margins up to 42.7%/£3,100, resulting in record ever profits of £6,021.

However, this was achieved in spite of an almost total lack of interest in supporting fundraising activities.

1996-97 (7 teams)

Paul and Nick continued in charge and to play, justifying the club's decision for them to take on both roles by winning the H and D Challenge Cup beating Brackenhall Utd 2-1 AET. Their second win in three seasons and third in six. Normal time was pretty dour then things sprang to life with Hall taking the lead 10minutes  into extra time. Paul Joyce equalised with just10minutes  remaining then Craig Stephenson hit the winner with just 2minutes  remaining.

Team:- Wraight, Bellamy, Cunningham, Howe, Joyce, Thompson, Stephenson, Beaumont, Lord, Caton, Wilson Subs:- Wilkins, Stead, Wadsworth (K), Pike.

On their way to the final in the 2nd Rd they beat Sikh Temple Sports 14-0, the highest score in 28 years. A credible 4th in the league saw them with a run of  6 games in all competitions in Nov/Dec recording 6 clean sheets while scoring 37 goals. A more than satisfactory season saw John Buckley topping the scoring chart with 19 goals. The Under 13's were the best of the Juniors being runners-up in Division IIA whilst having the satisfaction of being leading scorers with 122 goals in 22 matches whilst only conceding 27.

Finance and sales slipped back £4,500 to £33,798 largely due to a poor Summer/early Autumn and then Xmas/New Year periods. There being fewer events and a general apathy towards fundraising continuing the downward trend:-Fundraising
1992/93 - £5,358
1993/94 - £4,256
1994/95 - £3,625
1995/96 - £3,380
1996/97 - £2,082

However, with cost savings of £2,300 a profit of £4,467 was still achieved and testament to the hardwork of just the seven Committee Members left trying to hold things together.

1997-98 (7 teams)

With Paul having retired and Nick deciding to concentrate on playing ex player John Condie too over and what a season it turned out to be:- - WRCAL Premier Division Champions for 2nd time in 5 years - Retained H and D FA Challenge Cup having now won it 4 times in the last 7 years - Semi finalists in the West Riding County FA Cup -   Semi finalists in the League Cup

On top of that lot:- - 2nd team finished top in H and D League Division II gaining promotion. Just reward for another ex Junior, captain Keith Wadsworth. - The Reserves (3rd team) finished 4th, one place off promotion - The Junior section were still able to field 4 teams (Under 11/13/14/15) thus ensuring continuity into open age

The league title was only settled on the final game of the season. Level on points with local rivals Storthes Hall who slumped to an unexpected 1-3 defeat at home to mid-table Aberford Albion, Marsden were at 4th placed Hemsworth MW where a 0-0 draw following a tenacious performance saw them through. They had lead the league almost all season, starting with 6 victories and finishing unbeaten in the last 7 games, all played in the last 2 weeks of the season within which the Challenge Cup was won. They beat Skelmanthorpe 3-2. A goal down in 2 minutes , they hit back through Dean Johnson then Sean Caton on 28 and 31 mins only to concede an equaliser on 53 minutes. From the re-start Sean Caton settled the match with the winner.

Team:- Wraight, Bellamy, Cunningham, Howe, Hall (R), Beaumont (Capt), Buckley (Dunne 75 minutes ), Johnson, Wilkins, Caton (Lord 75 minutes ), Stephenson. Subs not used Mulvihill and Metcalf. John Buckley again topped the scoring with 24

The League and Cup 'double' was all the more remarkable because in the 10 month long season 46 matches were played:-
Won - 32
Drawn - 7
Lost - 7
Goals for - 124
against - 52

Nick Howe, John Buckley, Robert Wraight and Craig Stephenson all playing an extra game when in March they were in the WRCAL Representative team playing against the West Yorkshire League in an Inter League match at Field FC.

Finances and another satisfactory year with profits of £4,341, marginally down on the previous year. Sales had continued their slide, this time by £3,500 but margins had continued to increase up to a record 43%. Other Income had shown an encouraging reversal in trend, increasing from £7,180 to £9,894 largely due to increases in Match Fees and the introduction of a FA Cup Draw.

1998-99 (7 teams)

John Condie remained in charge but following the euphoria of the previous season this was always going to be a tough year. With the previous seasons' success attracting more players to the club, an additional Open Age team was added:-
Premier Team - WRCAL Premier Division
1st team - H and D Division I
Reserves - H and D Reserve Division III
'A' team - H and D Reserve Division IV

However the Juniors contracted from 4 to 3 teams at Under 13/15/16

John decided to leave in March 1999 and Terry Dunne took over, the Committee feeling it best to stick at who they knewwithin the club and someone who players had a lot of respect for. The team finished 9th after struggling to find any consistency but managed to reach the Quarter final of the WR County FA Cup, loosing 0-1 to arch rivals Aberford Albion. The 1st team managed 8th place, the Reserves gained promotion after finishing 3rd whilst the 'A' team finished mid-table. Top scorer was Shane Wooler with 22 goals.

Finance - Sales and margins remained fairly static but with Other Income falling £1,500 and Expenses climbing by £1,000approximately, profits dropped from £4,341 to £1,420

1999-2000 (8 teams)

Terry continued to head the team with 4 Open age sides competing as the previous season. The Juniors were able to adda 4th team thus running Under 13/14/15/17.The ‘big man’ came up trumps, leading the team to their 5th H and D FA Challenge Cup victory in 9 years beating StorthesHall 1-0 with captain Russell Beaumont's 52nd min. strike winning an entertaining match.

Team:- Wraight, Bellamy, Cunningham, Howe, Stead, Beaumont, Buckley, Pike (Johnson 83 mins), Wooler, Wilson, Mulvihill (Stephenson 74minutes ). Subs not used - llingworth, Thompson, Wood.

In the league 9th position was somewhat disappointing.In March Robert Wraight and Nick Howe had the honour of playing for the WRCA League side against the West Yorkshire League at Field FCTop scorer again was Shane Wooler with 17 goals.

Unfortunately the 1st team finished bottom of Division 1 and were relagated, gaining only 6 pts in 22 games.The ‘A’ team finished mid-table but went on to win the Gee Cup (for teams in Division III and IV) beating Scissett in extra time.Justin Wood starring with a hat-trck.

Finance - and sales continued to drop, the fourth successive year, down to their lowest level in any full year. Just as well the Gross margin at 43.1% was a record high.

  Sales Gross   Other Income Overheads   Fundraising  
95/96 £38,378 £16,401 42.7% £8,547 £18,927 ) £3,380  
96/97 £33,798 £13,927 41.2% £7,180 £16,604 4 year avg £2,082 )
97/98 £30,235 £12,995 43.0% £9,894 £18,548 ) £2,387 )
98/99 £29,916 £12,678 42.4% £8,254 £19,512 ) £2,056 )
99/00 £28,603 £12,319 43.1% £7,431 £21,725 £18,398 £2,076 )
4 year £9,775 £4,082 42.5% £1,116 £3,327 18.1% £2,150 4 year avg
Reduction 25.5% 24.9% average 13.1%   Increase £1,230 36.4%

Overheads showed Incidentals and Depreciation increased £2,700 on the previous year.

Specific Fundraising which had been £4,256 in 1993/94, £3,625 in 1994/95 then £3,380 in 1995/96 had at least levelled off. So with sales continuing to decline and costs increasing, the resulting drop into a loss was probably to be expected. The loss of -£1,975 was the first in 8 years


The records suggest the club went through three distinct periods of success on the field:-

I) 27 years 1909/10 to 1935/36 when members of the H and D AF League in which they won Division I on 5 occasions and were also H and D FA Challenge Cup winners 3 times.Other than a few photos, there is little otherwise known of activities on and off the field.

II) 20 years 1937/38 to 1956/57 saw them mainly in the SELA League winning 9 League and Cups whilst capturing a further4 Challenge Cups including a hat-trick.In effect due to missing 6 seasons because of the war, 13 trophies were won in just 14 seasons.Fortunately Minute Books kept by Alec Schofield cover most of the period from July 1938 up to December 1955 and soprovide an intriguing insite in to the operation of the club in general both on and off the field, some of which are covered in other notes.

It is worth remembering that during the above two periods, except for 3 years just prior to and following the war, when aReserve team was added, only one team operated and collected all those trophies.

III) 9 years 1991/92 to 1999/2000 and the club operated at almost full capacity with 6 to 8 teams covering Senior and Juniorlevels, thus ensuring the Premier (1st) team had tremendous back-up in their successful attempt to justify two decades of planning.

Looking back at what was achieved in the 80s and 90s from such a lowly position, those instrumental in helping the club through this period can gain great satisfaction and pride, be they players, officials, volunteers or supporters. However, this was no accident but the  result of Development Plans originating in the mid 70s, then constantly updated throughout these two decades (See Supplement 11 ‘The Plan’ for details).

Marsden football was near rock-bottom and the challenge was to bring it back to the glory days of the 50s i.e. to be the best in the district.This was finally achieved in the late 90s having won 7 major trophies in a nine year period 1991/92 to 1900/2000. TheWRCAL Premier Division twice and the Huddersfield and District Challenge Cup 5 times, achieving the double in 1997/98.The opening of the clubhouse in October 1984 soon followed in December 1986 with the extention, allowed the club to be the social hub of the village, gaining support not only from the players and their families but village folk generally, some ofwhom became volunteers as well as customers.

The ‘Ladies’ in particular played their part, helping, organising andsupporting the many social and fundraising events, with Duncan Matley leading many of these.The clubhouse, manned by volunteers,  was open daily throughout the year and in its' second full year 1987/88 achieved record sales of £39,641. However, following the euphoria created in the early years it became more of a problem to man those hours and so the decision was taken to appoint a Steward in July 1988. After 4 years costing £19,200 in wages and the club moving into  losses, it was decided there was no alternative but to return to volunteer staff for 1992/93.

Profits returned and although sales began to drop as fundraising interest again waned, margins steadily increased to moreor less offset this as the tightening of controls was maintained. Probably more importantly, the feel-good factor had obviously spread to on-field performances and the winning of so many trophies.