Ovenden West Riding, Calderdale’s most successful amateur soccer club over the last few decades, has folded.
Club stalwart Steve Smith made the heart-breaking decision today after Ovenden failed to raise a side for the second pre-season game running last night.
They had been due to face Huddersfield Amateurs, after having to give backword to Brighouse Old Boys last Saturday.
Smith, who has been at the club for 49 years, informed West Riding County Amateur League secretary Stuart Marsden of the club’s fate this afternoon.
Ovenden withdrew their reserve team from the league during last season but the club’s name will be kept alive by various junior teams playing out of Forest Cottage, Ovenden.
Ovenden had been due to field a new second team, composed largely of older juniors, in Division Two of the Halifax AFL this season. That team is also being withdrawn.
Smith, who joined Ovenden as a player and has fulfilled virtually every role at the Natty Lane club over the years, said: “It’s a very sad day.”
The club had suffered from a major exodus 12 months ago and when another three or four had departed to Northern Counties League newcomers Campion this time, there had been a knock-on effect.
The origins of the club go back to before World War II with the team playing under the Ovenden Old Boys banner.
The West Riding suffix was added, to differentiate from the Halifax League side, when Ovenden entered a team in the regional league in 1982.
Ovenden, with Smith the main driving force, had an astonishing record of success.
They won the West Riding Saturday Cup three times, the Premier Division title seven times and the top section’s League Cup seven times.
When they crossed swords with other Calderdale teams in the Halifax FA Cup, their Shay final successes ran into double figures.
Smith said the Ovenden dressing room had been graced by many great players including Peter Calland, Stuart Lorimer, Lee Burrows and Jim McKernan and in more recent times by Scott Eastwood and Robbie Graham.
The county cup winning team of 1984-85 was arguably the best team to wear the club’s colours.
Danny Megson and Mark Duffy had done a fine job as manager in recent years and the late Tony Geidmintis, whose professional career included a spell at the Shay, was another well known name in the club’s history.