Manager Tony Kniveton said today he was ”gutted” that Halifax AFL champions Stump Cross had folded.
A shortage of players is the reason that one of the areas’s most historic and successful clubs has gone to the wall.
Stump clinched the title on goal difference from Ryburn United with a 4-0 win over Warley Rangers in late April in what has turned out to be their last ever match.
It was a sweet success after Ryburn had pipped them for honours by a point 12 months earlier.
Stump had no reserve side, one of the smallest squads in the Premier and no committee to help run the club.
Kniveton said: “I am gutted that the club has folded after what we have achieved.
“It is a real, real shame but I am proud of what we did as a tight group.”
Kniveton, who said he had already received approaches from five other clubs for his services, was downbeat about the state of Saturday football and the rapid decline in the number of clubs.
Kniveton has been manager for six seasons and in that time Stump have won the Challenge Cup twice and been runners-up in the league three times before taking that extra step last season.
The boss revealed that he had been hoping to step down himself, having fulfilled his ambitions at the club.
Kniveton added: “We’d had a couple of training sessions and were very low on numbers.
“We couldn’t raise a team for two friendlies and letting people down is not what we are about.”
Stump Cross won the Challenge Cup back in 1907 and had several spells of dominance in their familiar black and white stripes, particularly when they played at Shibden Park and changed at the former Museum pub.
AFL fixture secretary David Rattigan said Stump’s demise had been a “big shock.”
He couldn’t recall a club folding as champions and thought Stump could have won more major AFL trophies than anyone else.
“It is a big blow to lose a club which has won the Premier Division a total of seven times and the Challenge Cup nine times.”
Rattigan said Stump’s players were already finding new clubs with Ryburn signing Adam Barlow and Damian Watkins, Liam Brompton going to Midgley and ‘keeper Craig Taylor returning to Greetland.
The AFL has received a second blow with the news that Stainland United, relegated from Division One last season, has also packed in.
The withdrawals leave the Premier with 11 sides, Division One with 13 teams and Division Two with 12 teams for 2015-16. Matches start at the end of this month.