The Battle of the Conifers: Why Parkgate’s win over Farsley was a crucial moment in the 2011 NCEL Premier title race

Simeon Bambrook, Neil Parsley, Wilf Race remember ‘The Battle of the Conifers) which saw Parkgate defeat Farsley to go top of the NCEL Premier Division in January 2011

‘We are top of the league’, the triumphant Parkgate players belted out in their dressing room as the ‘wounded’ Farsley Celtic players sat listening on. 

Doug Shelley’s Parkgate had just gone one point clear at the top of the NCEL Premier Division table with three games-in-hand after beating huge title favourites Farsley 3-2 in the unforgettable January 2011 clash at Roundwood.

Parkgate’s Ash Worsfold got two and Nathan Forbes-Swindells scored one of the all-time greatest NCEL goals – an unbelievable first half 50-yard free kick. Roy Stamer’s two goals gave Farsley, who also had a goal disallowed, hope until the bitter end.

Parkgate captain Will Senior and Farsley’s player/assistant manager Simeon Bambrook also engaged in a second half feud, leading to a spectacular mass brawl in the conifers after the final whistle and before the chanting.

The defeat left Farsley looking like a spent force as it was their fourth loss in nine league games and Parkgate now appeared on course to pull off their greatest achievement.

But the history books do not show unexpected promotion-chasers Parkgate as the 2011 champions. 

A seismic shift in the title race was created as the chanting reinvigorated Farsley who would go on and win 13 and draw one of their final 14 league games to win the crown by five points and with a game to spare. Farsley later completed the double by winning the NCEL League Cup final.

Ten years on, we have conducted brand new interviews with three of the protagonists – former Farsley manager Neil Parsley and his player/assistant Bambrook along with ex-Parkgate assistant manager Wilf Race to celebrate the memorable game. We have also included Parkgate defender Matt Griffin’s memories from a recent interview.

This is the ‘The Battle of the Conifers’:

Saturday 22nd January 2011

Parkgate (Worsfold 19, 57, Forbes-Swindells 25) 3-2 Farsley Celtic (Stamer 21, 74)

Action from Parkgate versus Farsley

The Teams 

Parkgate squad (as listed in the programme): James Jenkinson, Matthew Cardwell, Gareth Clayton, John Drennan, Matt Griffin, Will Senior (captain), Luke Fletcher, Janni Lipka, Ashley Worsfold, Kier Hannity, Nathan Forbes-Swindells. Subs: Joe Jerrison, Jimmy Ghaichem, Grant Allott, Daniel Robinson, Danny Major.

Farsley Celtic: Tom Morgan, Nathan Hay, Ryan Serrant, Simeon Bambrook, Mark Jackson, Lee Connor, Andy Cooper, Dominic Krief (captain), Ben Jones, Gareth Grant, Roy Stamer. Subs unused: Dave Stead, Scott Driscoll. Sub unused: Tom Taylor. 

Who Was In Charge 

David Musgrave

Protagonists Profiles 


Wilf Race (WR)

Maltby Main chairman Wilf Race served as Doug Shelley’s assistant at Parkgate. Picture: The66Pow

The current Maltby Main chairman served as Doug Shelley’s assistant manager during the club’s unforgettable campaign. The role was his last in the dugout after a long career in management which saw him take charge of teams such as Maltby and Hallam.

Matt Griffin (MG)

Matt Griffin making a typical Matt Griffin tackle on Farsley captain Dominic Krief

Griffin, an old team-mate of Jamie Vardy from their Stocksbridge Park Steels, joined Parkgate at the beginning of the 2010/11 campaign. The current Ecclesfield Red Rose 1915 boss also played for Buxton, Maltby Main, Hallam and Dinnington Town during his playing days.

Farsley Celtic 

Neil Parsley (NP)

Former Farsley Celtic manager Neil Parsley watching on from the Roundwood dugout

The former Leeds United defender, who played with actor and comedian John Bishop at Witton Albion, was tasked with leading Farsley’s rise from the ashes in the summer of 2010. The ex-Guiseley boss had done an exceptional job as the final manager of the old Farsley in very difficult circumstances as the club was in administration and had incurred a ten point deduction in the Conference North in 2009/10. Parsley left Farsley in May 2017 and he was scouting for old West Brom colleague Micky Mellon at Tranmere Rovers until the covid-19 pandemic began.

Simeon Bambrook (SB)

Simeon Bambrook in action in the famous game at Parkgate

‘The Hammer’ Bambrook is regarded one of the greatest Leeds-based Non League players of all-time. His last minute penalty in the 2007 Conference North play-off final sent Farsley into the top flight of Non League Football for the first time in their history. That was the pinnacle of an outstanding career which went well into his 40s, and also included a memorable FA Cup second round goal for Emley against Rotherham United in 1998. A further interesting fact about firefighter Bambrook is that he once won an episode of Gladiators on Sky One. He left the Non League game in 2015 and is now a leading light of the West Yorkshire veterans football scene. 

Setting the Scene 

Farsley Celtic players celebrate beating Hinkley United in the Conference North play off final in 2007

Farsley (then known as Farsley AFC) had reformed in the summer of 2010 after the old club fell into financial difficulty after reaching the Conference National in 2007 and were ultimately liquidated in March 2010. Several players who had played for Farsley in the final season of the old club in the Conference North and during their rise to Non League’s top flight signed for the new club, including Gareth Grant, captain Dominic Krief, Ryan Serrant and Parsley’s player/assistants Bambrook and Mark Jackson – now the Leeds United under 23s head coach. Goalkeeper Tom Morgan, German left-wing star Roy Stamer, Steve Mallory (then an unknown player in Non League circles), young Andy Cooper and striker Ben Jones added further quality. Morgan and Stamer had been part of the club’s rise to the Conference, but had left Farsley in 2008.

SB: “We assembled a good squad and we were everyone’s cup final. Everyone wanted to take our scalp. We were going to grounds we had never been to before because we had been in a higher league. I guess we were the big draw that season for some of the clubs that league. There was a lot of pressure and expectation (placed on us by other clubs) because we retained quite a few and recruited well for that league. There wasn’t as much money as people thought. People were happy at Farsley and they were happy to drop their wage. We knew it was a new project of starting again and a lot of the players were just happy the club was back up and running and prepared to give it another shot. They knew they had a good crack at winning the league. It was an exciting time and some opposition teams did take it upon themselves to try and kick us off the park. But we were quite capable of looking after ourselves. If teams thought a bunch of big-time Charlie’s were turning up, five or ten minutes into the game they realised that wasn’t the case.”

NP: “What springs to mind is when we went somewhere one day and I heard a comment from one of their committee members about Farsley being big-time Charlie’s and the money Farsley were supposedly paying out was ridiculous. Looking back ten years later, I always thought that was the worse thing you could say about us because it was so far from the truth. The reason why I say that is because I had surrounded myself with experience in the shape of Jacko (Mark Jackson) and Sim. Jacko had played 200-odd professional game. Sim had done the equivalent in Non League. Everybody looked up to them. Sim has an aura about him and he gains the respect as soon as he walks in a room. Like-wise Jacko gained that with his professionalism and from being a stickler for detail. When people said ‘big-time Charlie’s’, we weren’t. It was the professionalism brought in. The club backed us so we had tracksuits, we had bags and that to us was looking after the players. I totally accepted clubs were not in a situation to do that, whether it be finances or the know-how or not wanting to do it. We felt it was an important step in the rising of Farsley out of the ashes.”

Even in chairman Albert Dudill’s programme notes from the January 2011 encounter acknowledge that Parkgate were “enjoying their most successful period” of history. Shelley had rebuilt the team following the summer departure of Russ Eagle to Handsworth and he had turned a club who had finished 14th in the previous season into promotion contenders.

Parkgate under Doug Shelley during the following 2011/12 season

WR: “I had worked for Albert the chairman at Parkgate, I had been the first team manager twice and I had also run their County Senior League side. When Doug Shelley went to Parkgate, what I got told was Albert had said to him ‘well, you’re short on experience at this level Doug, can I make a recommendation that you go and talk to Wilf Race and get him in as your number two’. Within ten minutes of meeting Doug I had agreed to take up the role of his assistant manager. I loved doing it and I loved the role of being a number two at that time in my life because you get everything you want, but you don’t the hassle of players tapping you on the shoulder and asking you ‘why aren’t I in your starting eleven’?

Former Parkgate manager Doug Shelley

“Doug proved to be a fantastic motivator. That guy could really get lads motivated. First and foremost, I would say that Doug Shelley was a no-nonsense manager. First thing you had to have to sit in that Parkgate dressing room was have the ability to roll your sleeves and get out there and give it 100%. That’s the one thing Doug always wanted. People also underestimated his ability as a football manager. Some people just thought he was an intimidating guy. He was a fearsome man, but Doug wanted to win the league and he assembled a good squad.

“You had good leaders out on the field like Matt Griffin and Will Senior who shortly after that season drifted away from Non League football, but what a good player he was. Then you had your goal-scorers; (Nathan) Swindells, Ash Worsfold who went onto play for Gainsborough. He was only a young lad, but through Parkgate he made a name for himself. A lad called Janni Lipka; perhaps the best most gifted player I’ve seen for a generation at that level of football. He was very creative and could dress a pass. Jimmy Ghaichem played for Parkgate that season; he was an inspirational player on his day.”

Early Season Form 

Lee Connor and Mark Jackson were vital for Farsley according to Neil Parsley

Farsley were seen by most people as the clear favourites to go away with the title and by the end of October they had hit their stride – winning seven consecutive games to go seven points clear at the top.

WR: “Farsley were expected to run away with it. They had dropped down three leagues and were everyone’s pre-season favourites. For a team like Parkgate in what was Doug Shelley’s first season as a manager at that level, the fact we finished five points behind Farsley was a massive achievement.”

NP: “I felt the pressure wasn’t initially there because that group of players was put together really late in the summer due to the deal to secure the resurrection of Farsley happening in late June. So when we played the friendlies and the early league games I didn’t feel there was any pressure or an expectancy level. That grew around October or November time and we had a few iffy results around then too. One big thing I can remember; when the season was underway, (defender) Lee Connor was available. Jacko, (Tom Morgan) and even (physio) Gaz Liversidge all said ‘Connor would be great for us’. I had worked with Lee before (at Guiseley) and I thought about it over a week and touched based with him. Once he signed and him and Jacko became our centre-back pairing, we were solid and we were more like a side that would have a chance of winning a league.”

The Game 

Farsley’s form had collapsed with just three wins in eight league matches and going into the trip to Parkgate all the pressure was on Parsley’s men who had just been beaten at Lincoln Moorlands Railway – then a top side – midweek. The title race at this stage also included Bridlington Town and Tadcaster Albion, but Parkgate had an opportunity to pull away.

SB: “I don’t think the pressure built for that one particular game. The pressure was there all season because we were Farsley. We were kind of looking forward to it because we knew Parkgate was a good little set-up and a decent playing surface. We were looking forward to it and hoping we would get out of the dip we were in. Most players who were with us had played under pressure previously at higher levels so I don’t think the pressure was anything out of the ordinary and we didn’t build it up to be a win or bust game either. Yes we knew it was important, but it wasn’t the be-all and end-all and whoever won the game won the title. There was still 14 games to go.”

NP: “We were very much looking forward to it because it was a decent surface there and it would be perfect for the players we had. We acknowledged that it was going to be a tough game with a lot at stake. We prepared really well and we were up for it.”

The Greatest Goal

Roy Stamer celebrating his equaliser
Nathan Forbes-Swindells scored a free kick which is described as the greatest ever by those who witnessed it
Farsley goalkeeper Tom Morgan was left with no chance

Worsfold drew first blood for Parkgate before Stamer equalised. In the 25th minute Parkgate won a free kick to the right of the halfway line. Forbes-Swindells positioned himself to shoot and the amazement of everyone inside Roundwood, he sends an absolute rocket of a strike into Farsley goalkeeper Tom Morgan’s top left-hand corner from at least 45 yards. All Morgan can do is flap his left-hand in the wind.

SB: “Everyone is a cameraman now and that if the game had been filmed that goal would have been one of the many reasons why it would have been a decent game to view the highlights of.”

WR: “Me and Doug were looking at Nathan Swindells lining up and we were saying to each other, ’I hope he doesn’t think he’s going to shoot from there because he hasn’t got a cat in hell’s chance of scoring’. I think it was only a few yards inside the halfway line. It was hell of a distance. If anything we were trying to get words onto the pitch to say ‘tell him not to shoot’ because we didn’t want to be wasting a free kick. But he did shoot. As I’m talking to you now, I can see that ball go as straight as an arrow into that top corner. It is the best free kick I have ever seen. I’ve seen some awesome team goals in my time, but in terms of a free kick I don’t think I’ve seen one better on the TV. People will think I’m absolutely raving loony for making that sort of comment, but as you know I’m a Non League fanatic and it was some goal.”

SB: I remember him lining to shoot and thinking ‘really’? I was kind of happy that he was going to shoot because of the distance. Next thing you know it is flying into the top bin. At the time I just thought Morgs had to do better. Looking at it afterwards, at our level I don’t think the knuckle-ball free kick was a common thing. When I look back at that free kick the lad knuckle-balled it and with the pace and movement it went at, it is up there with one of the best free kicks I’ve witnessed. It was an outrageous strike. Although I was annoyed with Morgs at the time because it was so far out, the lad’s technique was incredible. I can probably kick a ball quite hard and in my time I scored a free kick, but I could never knuckle-ball it like that. It was kind of a new thing back then with the new balls which players discovered. When I first started playing football there was no way you could have knuckle-buckled the balls I started playing with.” 

NP: “There were scenarios that went against us and that free kick was one of them. I’m not sure if it was 50 yards, but it was miles out. Initially at the time people pointed the finger at Morgs. I’ve spoken to people who were behind that strike and they acknowledge that you have to applaud it. Normally you can trace a goal back to a mistake, but looking back it was a great free kick, a fantastic one. I laugh about it now, but I remember saying to Morgs at half-time, ‘Morgs, that’s a hell of a long way out, blah, blah’. He said ‘I know Pars, but it moved in the air’. I remember one night that season when we were drawing at Liversedge and Sim struck one which got stuck in the stanchion – very similar. A long way out, but went like a rocket into the top corner.”

Action from Parkgate versus Farsley
Action from Parkgate versus Farsley
Action from Parkgate versus Farsley
Action from Parkgate versus Farsley
Action from Parkgate versus Farsley
Action from Parkgate versus Farsley

Worsfold extended Parkgate’s lead on the hour and that was the start of a disjointed period. Farsley were throwing the proverbial kitchen sink, but a feud between Bambrook and Senior led to at least one delay. At one stage Senior was laid seemingly comatose on the ground.

SB: “We were both playing in centre-midfield and we both combative so we were at it for most of the game. I had a ding-dong with a Hinckley midfielder in the (2007 Conference North) play-off final and it was fair and honest and when you gave it you also took it. This guy (Senior) went down like he was a Brazilian. He was rolling around and I just thought ‘you’ve been giving it all game and now you’ve taken one and you’re rolling around trying to get people sent off’. There was nothing wrong with him and everyone knew that he was trying to get me sent off. That’s what probably lit the blue touch paper because it wasn’t the done thing.”

NP: “I knew there was something going on because Sim was normally calm and collected on the football field. I knew once there were verbals off-the-ball I knew he was riled big-time. Parkgate’s manager was on the pitch (remonstrating with the referee) and their player (Senior) was rolling around on the floor and I remember that happening a couple of times in the second half. The referee stood firm which was good because it was clear that they were trying to influence him by suggesting something had gone off off-the-ball. It disrupted our efforts to get back into the game more than anything. It is part of football, it happens at all levels and Parkgate were very good at it. It paid dividends for them as they got the win.”

Farsley right-back Nathan Hay in battle with Ash Worsfold
Action from Parkgate versus Farsley
Farsley’s Ryan Serrant makes a tackle
Stamer wins a header
Farsley manager Neil Parsley readjusts his hat in the second half

Stamer set up a nervy finale for Parkgate as his 74th minute goal brought the scores to 3-2. Farsley tried everything – ultimately in vain – to force an equaliser. Youngster Scott Driscoll thought he was the hero with five minutes left, but his goal was disallowed for offside.

NP: “I do remember the disallowed goal and even to this day I don’t know what was wrong with that goal? It was a free kick which took a ricochet and I think he (Driscoll) was on the right. He was clear in a tight area and he tucked it in the bottom corner. But I don’t think it was offside. It was came off the wall and he wasn’t near the vicinity of the free kick as we were taking a strike at goal.”

SB: “I don’t think we were poor, it was just a tight game. There was nothing in it really. It was just one of those tense games throughout. I don’t think we deserved to lose. If we had drawn it it would have been the top two sides in the league going away with a point and everyone would have been kind of happy. Obviously they nicked it and the rest is history.”

NP: “You touch on the spoiling tactics and them scoring a great free kick. Their goalkeeper made two great saves and I remember Benj (Ben Jones) missing a great chance late in the first half. I have no qualms about losing the game, but if someone had the stats on possession and chances, a draw probably would have been fair. Sometimes in games you don’t get what you deserve.”

The final whistle went and the referee was immediately drawn to an exchange between Krief and a member of the Parkgate coaching staff. This meant the officials missed the epic brawl by the conifers at the entrance/exit to the pitch. The feud between Bambrook and Senior had been like a live hand grenade waiting to go off during the whole of the second half and it just exploded. The conifers must have thought there had been an earthquake with the way they were shaken about. Players, spectators – including Farsley substitute Driscoll’s father who vaulted the dugout side barrier – got involved before it was broken up.

MG: “I was on the pitch and I had to try and split it up, but it is one of the funniest and comical things I’ve witnessed in football. The lad (Simeon Bambrook) in the middle of the park for Farsley, I wouldn’t have fancied having a fight with him, had a ding-dong with Will (Senior) throughout the game. They hadn’t come to fisticuffs though and at the end of the game, the Farsley lad must have said ‘I’ve had enough’ and he ran over to the corner where Will was. I saw him running and I shouted to Will ‘watch your back’ and they went for each other and it became a bunch of blokes fighting in the conifers.”

SB: “I think he (Senior) tried to shake my hand. I like a good and fair one-one-one and shake hands after and go home. When people are faking injury, trying to get you sent off and giving you the wink, I’ve got no time for them. It was still tense afterwards and our paths crossed at the right time near the conifers and a couple of words were exchanged and they triggered it (the brawl). We had the confrontation and everyone then jumped on it. I wouldn’t call it a 22-man brawl, I’d call it a bit of a scrummage with the odd punch being thrown. There was that many players involved and it was a slope down to the conifers so because of the natural lay of the land we ended up in the conifers. I remember coming out of it and seeing fans in and around it and they may have got involved, but because I was right in the middle of it so I don’t remember too many punches being thrown. It would been great viewing if someone had filmed it. I can’t believe I got away with it, but the referee was semi-distracted by what was going on at the other end and by the time he got there to him it could have been anybody who was at fault.”

MG: “There was a centre-back for Farsley, I don’t know his name (either Mark Jackson or Lee Connor), but we looked at each other and gave that look to say ‘I won’t go daft if you don’t go daft and we’ll try and get people out of here’. There were people in the conifers and I remember pulling Ash (Worsfold) by his waist to get him out of the conifers. It is a mad memory because it was almost a Sunday morning thing, but it was two really quality sides that ended up in the conifers. I remember going in the changing room after and there was people walking in with literally bits of conifers sticking out of their hair. I played centre-half with a Scottish kid called John Drennan and he came in and said ‘I think I’ve hit about four people, but I don’t know who they were and whether or not they were ours or theirs’?”

NP: “I remember walking by as a group of people or a melee of bodies, fell into the conifers. I had gone over to the referee and linesmen as you do so I was a bit delayed in getting to it. I didn’t get involved. I saw Sim was involved and he could look after himself. I remember three or four people in ours and their dressing room wanting to go back out and I was pushing them back them into the dressing rooms to leave it to Sim and whoever to sort it out themselves.”

The excitement was not over. Parkgate had gone top and seemingly taken total control of the title race. Their players banged on the walls and sang their hearts out with the chant of ‘we are top of the league’ as the Farsley players sat and listened.

SB: “After the game and what had happened they were obviously on a high and were buzzing. They beaten us at their place and gone top of the table. I don’t know if they were singing ‘champioly’ or something like that. Obviously they were high and giving it massive so we could hear them. Pars was like ‘listen to that’. It turned out to be a turning point in the season, but not for them. It was a turning point for us. We went onto win every game, but one which we drew. We always had the capability to do that and maybe the Parkgate game was exactly what we needed. Perhaps the singing fired some of the lads up to go onto achieve what we did.”

MG: “It is funny how football can come back to bite you (because of the chanting) and I remember thinking this (title race) isn’t done because they are a good side and credit to Farsley. We threw it (the chance of winning the title) away, but they were absolutely relentless afterwards. They won nearly every game after that and you had to take their hat off to them.”

WR: “I remember that we were begging for the final whistle to go. I remember that clearly. It was a very feisty affair and when the final whistle both sets of players were at each other and some ended up in the hedges. When you’re on the winning side it is a nice feeling. When you’re on the losing side it tends to leave scars. Farsley picked those scars up and I honestly believe it inspired them to think ‘ok, we’re not going to run away with this league, we need to knuckle down and get on with things’. A huge lesson was learnt that day and fair do’s, they were the best side that season, no two ways about it.

“You can never over-celebrate, but our celebrations caused a reality check for Farsley and after that game they went on a run which rubbed salt into our celebrations. We thought by grabbing that scalp that we had given ourselves a good chance of coming out the league winners that year. We didn’t and we were second best, but it was a brilliant Parkgate team that year.

“I’ve got no shame in saying I will have been one of the ones encouraging that (the chanting).  What we have to remember that beating a team who had been nearer the Football League than Step 5 the year before was such a great scalp for us. It gave us belief that just maybe we could it use as a platform to go on and win the league. It didn’t happen, but that’s why there was such euphoria in that dressing room.”

NP: “Because of the altercation after the game people came in at various stages. So there wasn’t actually a de-brief or summarising of the game straightaway. Sim came in and I said ‘are you alright Sim’? He said ‘yes, no worries’. Sim started a de-brief off and he said ‘no-way we should have lost that game, we need something special fellas now’. Everyone was listening to Sim and as I started to speak we heard the Parkgate banging on the wall and singing ‘we are top of the league, we are top of the league’. I said ‘quiet’ to everyone. We just sat there and just listened. It went on for what seemed like ages. All I said was ‘football has a funny way of coming back to bite you on the a**e, remember this and take it onboard’. I said ‘it was time for us to show solidarity as a group of players’. I turned to Jacko to ask if he had anything to say and he went ‘no’ – one word answer. Speaking to him in the bar, I remember Jacko saying ‘that’s a disgrace Pars, in all my years I’ve never heard players doing that with 14 games to go’. I said ‘it happens mate’ and not to worry and sure enough the players went and won 13 out of the last 14 and lifted the title.”

Farsley reclaimed top spot with a midweek victory at Winterton Rangers. Parkgate would go back to the summit on the 29th January, but only until the 9th February when Farsley won 2-1 at Liversedge thanks to Bambrook’s stanchion ‘worldie’. That night Parkgate lost 4-3 to Winterton and it was pivotal as Farsley were never knocked off top spot again.

WR: “We knew Farsley weren’t going to drop many points that season and the difference was those two defeats in Winterton in February. Those two losses probably handed the run-in back to Farsley. Immediately after we beat Farsley we drew at home against Maltby Main who were mid-table that year. All the good work against Farsley and all those celebrations had been thrown away within a space of six days and the opportunity to push on and drive on had gone.”

SB: “It was a kind of three-horse race from Christmas. We were the hot favourites because of who we were and Parkgate had come out of nowhere. They pushed us all the way. The quality and the depth of our squad helped us, but either way, the Parkgate game was a turning point. At the time it was a negative result and there were negative thoughts, but it led to better things and we won the league.”

NP: “I wouldn’t say the singing inspired us. I didn’t say to the players ‘let’s go and win this because of what they were doing’. It was definitely a turning point though. They were one point ahead with three games-in-hand so it essentially was a ten point swing with 14 games to go. So for us to win it by five points, that’s some going.”

Parkgate maintained their title challenge until the last two weeks of the campaign and their efforts earned them a runners-up finish. The season is still remembered by those involved with great affection and although they were beaten 3-0 by higher league Stocksbridge Park Steels, Shelley’s men did get a reward of playing at Hillsborough in the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup final.

WR: “It is by far the most successful season I’ve had as part of a management team and it was nice to be involved in at the top end of the table. We also got to the Sheffield Senior Cup final and that was a big achievement. We beat Sheffield 4-3 in the semi-finals, but we felt we let ourselves down in the final. Stocksbridge were a good side and one of the goal-scorers was Jack Muldoon who now plays for Harrogate Town. We played very well that night and everyone who watched the game will tell you that we passed the ball well and looked like the side more comfortable in possession. But when you have people like Mark Ward and Jack Muldoon playing against you, it is difficult. We didn’t have an answer for Jack Muldoon. We were disappointed because we had played well enough, but unfortunately we were undone by some excellent forward play that night.”

The key day when Farsley took total command of their own destiny was April 2nd and the 3-0 victory at Maltby Main. Parkgate had drawn 2-2 at Armthorpe Welfare after ex-Farsley man Ben Muirhead had equalised in the last minute from the penalty spot for Armthorpe. Bridlington also drew their respective game. The Celts won 3-1 in a Thursday night game at Hallam before Mark Bett’s second half double saw off Winterton Rangers to put the title within their grasp. Parsley’s men went to Tadcaster Albion in the penultimate game knowing a win would all but secure the title because of their far superior goal-difference. In a game that had its own drama, Farsley won 4-3.

Farsley celebrating winning the league after victory at Tadcaster. Picture: Phil Carver
Farsley celebrate lifting the title
Neil Parsley and his management team with the trophy – Geoff Taylor, Jackson, Gareth Liversidge and Bambrook
Parsley with his father Charlie who passed month later that year in 2011
Bambrook looking at his medal
Farsley players await the lifting of the trophy
Farsley players celebrate after the final league game
Gareth Grant receiving his medal from the late NCEL board member David Kirk
Farsley celebrate winning the League Cup which completed the double

SB: “The team spirit was excellent. Everyone was local and everyone knew each other and we had a great dressing room. After what had happened before (with the club folding), it was a great season. It was as good as any and how we did it was brilliant. When you’re expected to win it you always ‘well you should do it’ around your neck. Should be winning it and actually winning it are two completely different things. It was extremely satisfying to win it, almost as satisfying as when we went on the run to win promotion (to the Conference National in 2007) under Lee Sinnott. Because you’re expected to win it the expectation weighs heavy. When we won promotion from the Conference North there was never any pressure on Farsley to win any games. We played every game that season with a bit of freedom. But in the NCEL there was certainly pressure on us.”

NP: “It was an incredible achievement (to win all those games), but when you look at the players we had at our disposal it was within their locker. I surrounded myself with really professional people. I’ve mentioned Sim, Jacko, but I had people like (physio) Gaz Liversidge who had Conference experience as well. The team replicated that. I had Dom Krief, Ryan Serrant, Morgs, Lee Connor, Ben Jones, players who all had higher league experience. I had a youthfulness side as well. Andy Cooper desperately wanted to play for Farsley. I had a young Tom Jackson. Young Lewis Nightingale was coming on the scene along with Ryan Watson and Josh Grant. All these are good Non League players who have gone onto have good Non League careers.

“They were really happy times, really proud times. I wouldn’t say it was top of my achievements, but I’m not one to analyse things too much. I’m not for plaudits either. It was certainly a proud time though. I look at it that myself, Sim and Jacko did it for the club, but the players did it for themselves and then for me, Sim and Jacko. They proved that in adversity – i.e the Parkgate game – that they had the talent and mental strength to go ahead and win the title.”

Farsley lost to Tadcaster Albion in the President’s Cup final, but they won the League Cup to complete the double after Ryan Watson scored in the final minute of the final against Winterton Rangers. The 2011 promotion was the first of three over the last ten years which have put the club back in the Conference North (or National North as it is known now).

If you have enjoyed reading Non League Yorkshire over the past few months, please consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation NLY Community Sport which provides sport for children and adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. CLICK HERE to visit the JustGiving page. There is a video at the bottom of the page showing our work.

NLY Community Sport, run by James Grayson and Connor Rollinson, has always had combatting social isolation at the top of our objectives when running our Disability Football teams. When we properly return to ‘action’, our work will play an important role in reintroducing our players, who have disabilities and learning difficulties, back into society.

We have six teams, a mixture of Junior and Adult teams – Nostell MW DFC, Pontefract Pirates, Selby Disability Football Club and the South Yorkshire Superheroes (Barnsley) – across Yorkshire.

We have enjoyed great success over the past three years. Several of our players have represented Mencap GB in Geneva, including Billy Hobson from Selby and Greg Smith, whose story is quite inspiring.

You can learn more about the organisation HERE and on our Facebook page.

Watch the video below to see highlights from our three years as an organisation. The video was produced for our players at the end of March to remind them of good memories from the last three years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *