Bridge ready to return home

Sowerby Bridge AFC''From the left;''Chris Punda (1st Team Manager), Darren Wetherall (owner of Calder Tree Care), Ryan Brook (secretary), Jamie Piggot (After Accident Care Team) and Neil Davies (vice chairman)
Sowerby Bridge AFC''From the left;''Chris Punda (1st Team Manager), Darren Wetherall (owner of Calder Tree Care), Ryan Brook (secretary), Jamie Piggot (After Accident Care Team) and Neil Davies (vice chairman)

Sowerby Bridge AFC will make a long-awaited return to their Dixy Woods ground next week.

The Halifax AFL club’s long term home was left under several feet of water by the Boxing Day floods of 2015 and Bridge’s teams have led a nomadic existence since, at Carr Green, Rastrick, Halifax High School and Savile Park.

In spite of this, the club has had one its most successful spells, becoming the first Halifax area team in more than half a century to win the West Riding Trophy last season.

Club spokesman Neil Davies said it would be a special occasion for the club’s players and officials when the reserve team kicked off back on home soil next Wednesday, when Illingworth St Mary’s Reserves are the visitors in Division Two.

“We would like to see the community back down supporting their local team after so long away,” he said.

By coincidence, Illingworth SM Reserves were also the last visitors to the ground for a Division Two fixture six days before the floods. Bridge will be confident of a better outcome in the rematch, their seconds having lost that meeting 14-2!

The firsts have to wait until Friday, September 7 for their opening home fixture when Greetland will be the visitors.

There will be a tinge of sadness about the occasions as two of the club’s long-standing members, Maurice Meade and Dave Culpan, have died in recent times.

Davies said the impact of the floods on the town, the football club and nearby Sowerby Cricket Club had been huge.

“It has taken two years to get the pitch back in any kind of condition so that we can play football on it again. This has cost thousands of pounds, which we have raised through events such as pig racing and raffles.”

Davies has appealed for one final piece of assistance to complete the recovery effort. “Although the pitch is nearly ready, we ideally need it rolling. If anybody can help we would happily display an advertising banner to return the favour.”

He said Bridge had been forced to replace the posts, nets and line marker as well as paying the council to rent a pitch for the last two seasons.

Bridge will use the changing facilities at rebuilt Sowerby Bridge CC and Davies has thanked members of that club and companies who have helped them to return home.

The first team’s kit has been sponsored by After Accident Care Team and Calder Valley Tree Care. Other backers, who have taken out advertising banners at the ground, are Sowerby Bridge Day Nursery, the Loose Goose Inn, Cannonball Events, Mytholmroyd Builders Merchants Ltd, Hardcastle & Co Accountants, J.Barlow Chimney Sweep, Stoves and Fireplaces and Northern Trade Services

Bridge will hold a sponsors day on Saturday, September 29 (2pm) and other potential sponsors are asked to contact club secretary Ryan Brook at ryan.brook@ssp-worldwide.com.