Stephen Ball’s Non League Journey

Former Bradford (Park Avenue), Harrogate Town and Farsley Celtic left-sided player Stephen Ball

Stephen Ball must be the only player in history who has gone from playing in the European Cup to the Northern Premier League inside two weeks and can say he provided an assist for Eric Cantona at Anfield.

Ball is best known in Non League circles for playing for Bradford (Park Avenue), Harrogate Town and Farsley Celtic, but his early footballing days contain some great memories.

The left-sided player was deemed too small by Leeds United, yet was his clubs go-to-guy if their goalkeeper had been sent off. Perhaps he has got the world record for smallest goalkeeper in the world!

Ball’s career also saw him battle back to fitness after suffering a brain haemorrhage whilst playing for Farsley Celtic at Gateshead in October 2003. He recovered within six months and he still plays veterans to this day. 

Highlights include: 

  • Clive Freeman’s advance driving lessons 
  • Trevor Storton’s Sunday supplements 
  • His admiration for John Reed, Martin Haresign and Storton 
  • Being labelled as a pie-eater 

This is Stephen Ball’s Non League Journey:

“Because of the brain haemorrhage I’ve forgot loads and loads and that’s why I’ve loved reading your pieces as it has brought loads of memories back. 

“I started off at Leeds United. I signed schoolboy forms on my 14th birthday. I had my schoolboy years and then my two-year apprenticeship during what was a great era as the first team won the First Division Championship (now the Premier League) in 1992. I was very lucky to be there then. I’ve got stories where I was on the bus which was parading around the city with the trophy. 

“In terms of lads who were there with me in the youth team; Steve Nicholson was a couple of years older, but a lad called Damian Henderson who later played for Farsley was there. I’m trying to think of lads who went into Non League and there wasn’t that many to be honest. Andy Crosby was and I later played with him at Darlington. From my age there was only Gary Kelly who made a good career out of it. Richard Hepworth who played at Farsley was in the team and he’s actually just joined our vets team which I’m involved with now. There was John Gallagher, Marlon Billy who went onto be a professional rugby player. The goalkeeper was a lad called Chris Flear who was from the North East and I think I played against him somewhere along the lines as he must have gone back up North.

Ball’s Leeds United youth side

“I was lucky as well because in those days you only had the first team, reserves and then the juniors so I played a lot of reserve team games. I played with the likes of Eric Cantona and a few others in the reserves and at places like Old Trafford and Anfield. I can remember playing at Anfield in the reserves and we beat Liverpool 2-0 and I set one up for Cantona and one up for Carl Shutt. I think the reserve games were on a Tuesday night and by the afternoon you’d know the team and you’d do some set-pieces, but whilst Cantona was a great player, if he was in the reserves he’d not turn up for training. He was that kind of character. He didn’t speak a great deal of English so he didn’t really mingle with us in the reserves dressing room, but I think he was like that with the first team. He was flamboyant character who kept himself to himself.

Initiations. jobs and nightlife 

“We used to have court cases and things like in the old school days. I don’t think they do anything like that now. You all had jobs to do like cleaning as well. I was lucky as I was the one who gave jobs out as I was captain of the youth team. My job was to clean Howard Wilkinson’s office! He had just started playing golf as well and I played golf so I used to end up on Fullerton Park hitting golf shots with Howard Wilkinson while other lads were cleaning baths and various things! 

“If you had done anything wrong and you were involved in a court case…we’d tie people up naked against the goal-posts and belt balls at them from 18-yards. People would end up in the boot room where all first team boots would be and the lights would go out. Whoever’s court case it was would be in the middle and you’d raining boots on them and all-sorts. I remember Noel Whelan having a court case, I can’t remember what for, but he got a bit of a hiding in there. But that’s what made you in those days. We were on £35 a week and to me they were great times.

“We used to go to a place called Mr Craig’s which was the nightclub in Leeds. We used to have player passes so we could go straight to the front. We’d go out as apprenticeships but we were £35 a week in those days so we didn’t have much money. Luckily there’d be always some of the pros in there like Gary Mac (Gary McAllister) or Speedie (Gary Speed). Because I was the captain they would sometimes bung me a few quid and say ‘go get the lads a few drinks’. We used to try and hold onto the coattails of Speedie and others.”

Leaving Leeds 

“Leeds released everyone in my year except me. Wilkinson said they weren’t sure and they’d see how things went in the three remaining reserve games and a tournament in Marseille. I had a great tournament and everyone presumed I was a shoo in for a contract, myself included. The first team had won the title and gone on holiday and there were only the second year apprentices still at the club as we had to do a referee’s course or some kind of course and I got told on the last day that they weren’t going to sign me as they thought I was going to be too small and too slow. They were probably right in the long run! 

“The timing gave me a big disadvantage as everyone had been able to go on trials. Luckily because I’d had a few good games in the reserves and scouts were always watching, a few clubs were in for me. It worked out alright, but Leeds is my hometown club and the team I support. Before the pandemic I still went to matches with my little boy, but being released from Leeds is the most gutted I’ve ever felt.”

Darlington (1992-94)

“Darlington were in what is now League Two and I played just short of 50 games in the league for them. It is a massive wrench when you get released from Leeds and you don’t know what you’re going to do. Especially with my mindset as I thought I was going to play for Leeds. But I certainly had the attitude of ‘I’ll prove the buggers wrong’ and luckily I signed for Darlington. I could have signed for Reading or Notts County, but Darlington was an hour away and I liked what they said.

“I think my first game for them was against Hartlepool in what was the equivalent of the West Riding Cup in the North East. I scored in that game and we won 3-1. That was a trial game for me and after the game the manager Billy McEwan said ‘see me in the office tomorrow, I’ve got a contract that needs signing’. I signed a two-year deal with them and I made my debut in the first game of the season away at Cardiff City who were favourites for the league. The funny thing is I made my league debut as a centre-half! We drew 0-0 and I got man of the match so it wasn’t a bad debut! 

“I scored three league goals – all from full-back. I scored in a win over Northampton. My first goal was away at Shrewsbury – an header at the back stick. That’s a notable memory for me personally. My mum and dad were there and my dad always tells me the story that he was in the Shrewsbury end – the main stand – and when I scored he went mental. All the Shrewsbury fans were looking at him and he said ‘its my son, it’s my son’. He got talking to a couple of the Shrewsbury fans and they bought him a drink at half-time! My mum and dad were always a massive influence on my career. They went to most games when I was growing up.

“Andy Toman was in the team as were Sean Gregan and Robbie Blake who Leeds fans will know. I lived in digs with a lad called Steve O’Shaughnessy and we had some good nights out, but I was professional in my head at the time, all I wanted to be was a footballer. 

“I had a couple of injuries and when Billy McEwan left and the new manager (Alan Murray) came in he didn’t quite fancy a few of us so I got released from there.”

Cork City (1994)

“There’s a couple of stories from Cork when I played in the European Cup. We played Slavia Prague in the first leg of that particular round and we only got beat 2-0, but we didn’t touch the ball for about 45 minutes. It was keep-ball for them. 

“I was only there for a few months. I loved it and we had some great nights out. We played Celtic in a pre-season friendly and all the team went out. They treated us like kings and I remember coming home with more money than I went out with. I never bought a drink and it helped that we were sponsored by Guinness. We were living in digs so we’d go over to the clubhouse and get free drinks. I saved loads of money because I never spent anything. It was brilliant! 

“I wanted to stay, but I was counted as a foreigner for the registration rules. We were playing Slavia Prague away in the second leg and the goalkeeper had got injured a day or two beforehand. They brought a lad from Plymouth in on loan and because he was an English lad he was included in the quota. You could only have three and the other two were centre-halves. One of us had to drop out and I was the one who dropped out. The manager got sacked after the Slavia Prague game and the new manager said they were getting rid of all the English players so they paid me up.”

Farsley Celtic (1994)

“So two weeks after playing in a European Cup game I was playing at Radcliffe Borough (20th August 1994) for Farsley Celtic! I’ll always remember it. I’d just come from professional football and I didn’t know a thing about semi-professional football. You go in and think ‘I’m going to be better than any player here’. We beat Radcliffe 4-1 and Robbie Whellans scored an hat-trick and Phil Sharpe scored a wonder goal from about 35 yards! I thought ‘this isn’t bad, this lot can play’. I played with Sharpey a million times and I’ve never seen him do anything like that again! 

“Eugene Lacey was the manager with Denis Metcalf helping him. I went there because (chairman) John Palmer phoned me up and said you can work for us (Palmer Plants) and play for Farsley. I’d come from Cork and I didn’t have a job and while I didn’t really want to do that, it was absolute brilliant thing for him to do. John’s a top, top bloke. I was now in the real world and John looked after me. The lads who did play for Farsley and worked for him didn’t have to do a great deal of work! I enjoyed it at Farsley, but I didn’t stay too long as Denis went to Emley to assist Ronnie Glavin.”

Red card leads to new job (15th October 1994)

“I got sent off after five minutes at Workington playing for Farsley. I travelled all the way up there and lasted five minutes. I only ever got sent off for flicking the ball over the bar with my hand. I was always on the post for corners and I think I got sent off three times for flicking it over. I was working for the Palmers, but I had this job interview and I had to fill this form in. Steve Nicholson’s mum had got me a job as a civil servant, but I had to fill all these sheets in. As the game was going on I managed to fill these sheets in and I got a job out of it so it was a handy sending-off! I was also left in the bar on my own so I kept nicking the beers. Glen Brazier also got sent off after 30 minutes so me and him kept jumping over the bar! I can’t remember the score, but the lads got well beat as there were only nine men!”

Emley (1994/95)

“I was playing well for Farsley, but Emley were in the Division above and Denis took me and Steve Nicholson. That’s obviously where I met Willy (Mark ‘Willy’ Wilson) and had my first dealings with him. My only memory of him at Emley that I can remember is; he used to get some right abuse from the away supporters. ‘My little pony’ is what I always remember them calling him because he had big long hair. I remember him as well doing a two-footed challenge and I’m not kidding you the two feet were in the guy’s chest! It was the worse tackle I’ve ever seen. He didn’t wait for the red card, he just walked off.

“I know Willy and Glavin didn’t always see eye to eye. It was like a love-hate relationship with them if I remember rightly. I bloke my leg playing for Emley in a game against Accrington Stanley at home on a Monday night as that was our midweek game night. Glavin hated it and he’d say ‘nobody play on Sunday’. Me and Willy used to get £50 or £60 to play for Stanley Road on a Sunday under Dave Fell. We’d played on the Saturday and did well and we had a game for Stanley Road the next day. We had a great team at Stanley Road. You could turn up drunk and we’d know we’d still win! It was easy money for us. Glavin had said ‘I’ll find out’. But me and Willy both said we’d still play. We played on the Sunday and got to Emley on the Monday and Glavin got the both of us in the office. He gave us a right slating ‘I know you’ve both f***ing played’. He dropped Willy, but didn’t drop me.

“Half-an-hour into the game and a bad ball was played to me and someone went through me. I’d broke my tib and fib. Afterwards you think why didn’t he drop me as well! I remember being picked up by the St John’s Ambulance men and they dropped the stretcher! It was like something out of a comedy. They got me into the dressing room and one of them had taken off my sock and boot off so when the doctor came in he said ‘who the f*** has taken them off’? The St John’s Ambulance bloke slowly sneaked out when that was said!”

Clive Freeman’s Advance Driving Lessons 

“I used to travel into Emley with Clive Freeman and we always used to meet at the Drysalters Pub (in Leeds), near Elland Road. We’d gone up and played the match and he had a BMW and rear wheel drive. At the last roundabout before he was about to drop me off, he hit some oil or something and the car swerved this and that way. We went over the curb and through this gap between a lamppost and a tree. It doesn’t even look big enough for a car to go through. It spun around and ended up parked up near this house wall. It was that close I couldn’t get out! But the car wasn’t damaged apart his alloys! I always remember looking at him and saying ‘thanks for the lift Clive’! When I walk past where it happened now I just laugh. It was amazing how we didn’t crash and the car wasn’t written.” 

Bradford (Park Avenue) – (1996-2000)

Ball played for Avenue for four seasons

“I’m pretty sure Clive will have mentioned me to Trevor Storton and Trev got in touch with me so that’s why I went there. Avenue is probably my best Non League times. I thought all the clubs I played for were all great clubs and I throughly enjoyed them all, but Avenue is a club close to my chest. 

“You’ve heard a lot of the stories about the away days and I used to love them with all the Nutty Boys and Ronnie and the fans on the coach with all the players. The away games were better than the home games. They were just brilliant. It was a superbly run club and very family friendly. With Ronnie I just remember the phrases everyone else remembers, ‘come on Avenue, get in it the onion bag, mark ‘em tighter Avenue’. He’d do a Benny Hill impression with his glasses. 

“With the players from that era there were no prima-donnas and nobody thought they were better than anyone else. They were all good lads and a lot of us are in a WhatsApp group and we played in a veteran’s game two years ago. The banter flowed straightaway because we’re all comfortable with each other.

“We had some good nights out, but Whitley Bay is one I remember. I remember Nezza (Neil Grayston) doing his helicopter in a nightclub there and (secretary) Alan Hirst saying ‘oh I’ll drink you under the table’! He was home tucked up in bed for Match of the Day when we were all still out!”

Trevor Storton 

“Nobody has a bad word to say about Trevor because he was such a nice fella. He was an old school football who loved football. He’d ring me up and talk to me about the game. There was probably five or six of them and if he couldn’t get one of us he’d get hold of one of us. I loved Trevor and his training was brilliant. He loved smashing balls and he was still a good player so he joined in. I loved the article with Maxy (Jason Maxwell). He used to bully Maxy in training. He used to go through him all day long. That’s how he was. Trev played centre-half in one game when he was almost 50 and he was still class.

“The one story I have got which no-one has said yet; we had a spell where Trev gave us these supplements. I’m not kidding you we were all wide awake all Saturday night. You’d play Saturday afternoon and have a few beers. Sometimes you can’t sleep anyway because you still have adrenaline running. Trev gave us things – I haven’t got a clue what they were – and I was still awake during Sunday morning! I worked shifts in those days so sometimes I’d be working Sunday morning so I’d be going to work with no sleep! It wasn’t just me, he handed them out to all the lads. 

“I’d say Trevor was the best manager I had. I had some great managers like Reedy (John Reed) at Harrogate and Harey (Martin Haresign) at Farsley and I more-or-less got on with them all. I always felt they were honest and if I wasn’t playing well they’d tell me. Some lads preferred an arm round. I preferred a telling off. I knew nine times out of ten that I’d prove them wrong in the next game. Trevor was just class and he had a great turnout for his funeral. I can’t speak of him highly enough.”

Memorable Goals 

“I once scored a perfect hat-trick against Lincoln United for Avenue from full-back and I scored the winner for Avenue against Bradford City in a friendly when Chris Kamara was in charge of City. I knew Kammy from the Leeds day and he said ‘you’re going to get me bleedin’ sacked’! I scored a header with about two minutes to go.”

Paddy Kenny 

The former Sheffield United goalkeeper spent the whole of the 1997/98 season playing for Avenue 

Paddy Kenny in the Bradford team of 1997
The Avenue team of 1997/98

“He was a right nice lad who was very raw. You could tell he was a good goalkeeper and had something about him. He went on and had a brilliant career. He’s in our WhatsApp and still very grounded even though he’s played in the Premier League.” 

Goalkeeping Escapees

“I played a fair few games for Avenue and (supporter) Mad Pete always says ‘I remember the save you made against Emley’. I can remember it. It may have been Gav Kelly who got sent off. We were winning and I made a worldie save from a free kick which was going into the top corner. We went on and won it. I bet I played about eight or nine games in the NPL in goal! I must have got the world record for smallest goalkeeper in the world! The Witton game where Karl Lengahan got sent off rings a bell and I’m sure I played in goal against Frickley once as I saved a one-on-one. I used to like going in goal at Leeds in training to mess about, but when you’re only 5’6 you don’t get to go in goal very often! I could always save and I never let anyone down.”

Harrogate Town (2000-2002)

John Reed and Harrogate Town celebrate winning the West Riding County Cup

“Reedy (John Reed) loved the old ‘I’ve won this many titles…’. He’d tell you everything about the leagues he had won and he’d say ‘we’re going to win this league’ and do ‘this and that’. To be fair he got a good team together at Harrogate and we did well. Reedy was another good man-manager and he was very similar to Trevor – a proper football man. Being a good man-manager is sometimes better than having all the qualifications and being the best tactician. If you’re a good man-manager like Trevor, Reedy and Harey were, lads would do anything for you. You’d run through a brick walls for all three of those managers. 

“I was the top goal-scorer in the league from full-back after about the first ten games during the year (2001/02) we won the league. I was the penalty taker and free kick taker, but I had a spell where I kept on scoring in that season. I always liked to bomb on from full-back and we had Peter Atkinson at right-back who sat in and made a three at centre-half. You had Blackie (Ian Blackstone) who was a character. He once warmed-up with the gaffer’s suit on. Obviously Robbie Whellans got most of the goals, but Craig Elliott, Matt Albery and Iain Dunn chipped in with a few goals. They were all great set of lads and we blew the league away that season. It was a great season and we also won the West Riding County Cup.”

Bill Fotherby – the former Harrogate Town chairman 

“Bill was obviously at Leeds when I was there. I remember being sat in his car when I signed and they were offering me various things. Bill was a nice fella and I played golf with him once at a charity day which I won. I was living in Leeds at the time and when I came back from the round he said ‘you need to come and collect your trophy’. He said he’d pay for a taxi so he was brilliant. Bill would also come into the dressing room to do motivational speeches from time to time, but he was another top football bloke.”

Back to Farsley (2002-2004)

Ball returned to Farsley in 2002

“I don’t know why I went back to Farsley, but it may have been because it was ten minutes from where I lived. Harrogate was a bit of a pain to get to and because I worked shifts it wasn’t always easy to get to training. You give up a lot of your time to play semi-professional football. There were lots of times when I’d work a Friday night and finish at 7am on the Saturday morning. I remember playing away at Colwyn Bay and having to set off on the coach at 10am after having two hours kip. It is not easy kipping on a bus when you have the likes of Willy doing the Spiderman over you! I used to have a lot of good games after being on nights! You have all these professionals saying ‘we’ve got two games in seven days, how are we going to cope’? I think ‘you don’t know the half of it, try a 12 hour shift with two hours kip before a game and working Saturday night as well’. I’m not a lover of these excuses about too many games.

Another Farsley ‘team photo’ – where’s Michael Midwood’s hand?

“I had one good season under Harey and I loved playing under him. He had some good players like Middy (Michael Midwood) and Chris Stabb and lads would do anything for him. We got the West Riding County Cup final and I remember going back to Throstle Nest clubhouse and we were still drinking at 6am in the morning and I was starting work at 6.30am. I remember going straight from the clubhouse to work and it was the longest shift ever. We’d drunk that much I sobered myself up.

“A lad called Wes Freeman once threatened to shoot someone at Farsley. A lad who had been released from somewhere came with the big I am and Wes broke him down on the way back on the coach. Wes said something like ‘if you don’t shut up, I’ll shoot you’.

“I played with Liam Sutcliffe at a few places like Farsley and Railway so I’m not sure when he said this. But we were travelling over to Manchester over the M62 and he said ‘why would you build a farm in the middle of a motorway’. I always give him a bit of stick about that! He says ‘I was only kidding’. He wasn’t! 

“You have to mention Lee Connor because I played him a few times, at Farsley, Avenue and Guiseley. Everywhere I go Connor comes and follows me. I’ve always looked after him!

“Lee Sinnott replaced Harey in the summer (of 2003) and he was probably the only one I didn’t strike up a relationship with. He wanted to change things and he wanted things to be professional. But I didn’t have much time with him as that’s when I had my brain haemorrhage. I was off for a good six months and whilst I was injured he had signed Carl Serrant who was a great player.”

Brain Haemorrhage (8th October 2003)

“It was at Gateshead and I always remember that we won the game and Middy scored the winner. We had stopped off on the way and had a pre-match meal. I did all the warm-up and the game kicked off. It was about 15 minutes into it and I’d had no headers or anything to do. I was a vocal player and I’d given Roy Stamer our left winger a few rollickings. That’s the only thing you can think of why it happened. 

“It was the worst pain I’d ever had and I just sat down. There was no-one anywhere near me. People knew something was wrong. Our physio Maria Kearns (later Pemberton) who is now Martin Pemberton’s wife, was a nurse and she knew straightaway something was strong. The ambulance came straightaway and it took me to Newcastle General Infirmary. I was in that much pain and I was still conscious. I actually walked off the pitch and I was asking Maria ‘what the hell is happening here’? I’m pretty sure she knew what it was straightaway. 

“I’ll remember the doctors saying ‘right Mr Ball you’ve had a brain haemorrhage, we’re going have to shave you’. I thought ‘shave my head’. No they weren’t. They pulled my trollies down and started shaving my groin. They punctured a hole in my groin and they went through up my body into my brain to stop the bleed. It is amazing really and at the time Newcastle was the best place in the UK for neurosurgery. If I’d had it in Leeds they would have had to go through my skull to sort it. I’d still have scars now if it was in Leeds. It is funny that when it happened I was right next to the best neurosurgeons in the world. 

“The club looked after me, especially the Palmer family. They were brilliant and they looked after my mum and dad and made sure I was alright. My mum and dad weren’t at the game so they had to race up to Newcastle. I couldn’t fault Farsley at all. 

“I was off work and football for about six months. They originally said that might be it for football. About six months later I had another scan and I remember going into the other room afterwards and I put the TV on and it was the snooker and there were about million snooker balls on the telly.  But they said there was no reason why I couldn’t play again. Obviously when I got back playing I was a bit tentative. I had to get my fitness back, but I treated it like a bad break and when you come back its about getting the first tackle out of the way. You grow in confidence after that and it was the same with the heading.”

Guiseley (2004-2006)

“I knew Pars (manager Neil Parsley) and Guiseley was great. It was just a long way to travel. We had some good players like Mark Stuart and only in the last year or two I had a night away with a few of them. I don’t know if you’ll know them; Dave Henry, Richard Chattoe, Jez Illingworth and Scott Jackson. I went on a golf weekend and I keep in touch with them along with a load of other lads. 

“Trevor went to Guiseley in the second season as the assistant to Pars after Clive left. I always remember him saying after I’d done a quick free kick ‘Bally, you’ve got to remember, they’re two seconds behind you lad’. He knew how to build you up did Trev.

“I don’t remember too much from Guiseley. I do remember beating Halifax to win the West Riding County Cup which I must have won with nearly every team I played for. I also scored against Avenue along with Nezza and Avenue used to do a man of the match for both teams and they gave both bottles to me and Nezza. I scored a header in that one.

“We had a good night out in Blackpool once. We said we’d go out for a few in the afternoon and then get changed for the night-time. I had my shoes on because I forgot my trainers so I bought this pair of trainers from the cheap shop. They only cost about £6. During the afternoon drinking we went into this place and it was so dark you could only see these trainers. They were beaming so I took them off and everyone was dancing around them. We were p***ed as newts and we thought that was the end of the night. We got out and it was still light! It was only 6pm!”

Back to Avenue (2006-07)

“This is where I start to forget things, but I remember Sharpey (Avenue manager Phil Sharpe) phoning me up wanting me to sign. I said ‘Sharpey, we used to argue like f*** (during playing days at Avenue) didn’t we’. He said ‘don’t worry, we won’t argue this time as I’ve got the stripes’. That’s what he said! He’s a great lad is Sharpey. The good thing about Sharpey is he got the lads together and fostered a very good team spirit. He hates it when I say ‘you were a better manager than you were a player’. I still say it now when I see to remind him and he hates it with a passion. He says ‘I was a good player me’.”

Benny Phillips 

Benny Phillips became full-time Avenue manager in April 2007 with Sharpe and Clive Freeman staying on to assist him

“It was all bizarre and I remember Benny’s first training session. We were doing a shooting session and I was on fire. It was one of those sessions where you couldn’t miss. I looked over and Sharpey and Clive were stood on the halfway line. I just thought it wasn’t right. I’d known Sharpey and Clive a lot of years and I’d show more loyalty to them two than I would do to Benny Phillips. Benny Phillips was alright but I didn’t know him from Adam. It didn’t sit right with me.”

End of Career 

“I went to Harrogate Railway next and there’s a story where we played Halifax Town at home in the league after they had been demoted. The Halifax fans were at the back of the goal they were attacking and it was full. There must have been 700 or 800 and when there was a corner someone over the tannoy said ‘there’s no more pies, we’ve run of pies, they’d have all gone’. Someone then said shouted ‘number three has eaten them all’. I turned round and pulled my top up. It is my wife’s favourite story about my football career.

“After Railway I had a season at Frickley with Richard Tracey, Danny Walsh and Chris Gowen. I used to travel with them. Then I went to Ossett Albion and had a season under Eric Gilchrist. I must have been 39 by then. 

“I finished with my local team in the West Yorkshire League which is Beeston St Anthony’s. I had one season there and we won the league which was the first time they’d won it in 26 years. I’d always said I’d probably finish with my career with them. The assistant manager was Keith Sanderson who unfortunately died a few years ago, but when I first went to Farsley, Keith was one of the strikers. 

“I still play in the vets league. Andy Shuttleworth, another ex-Avenue man, is the manager of the team with Ryan Haigh. But that’s it for my career. I still look out for results of my old teams and on the results of like Benno’s (Wayne Benn) teams (Ossett United).”

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.

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