Future of West Riding County Amateur League in severe doubt

The West Riding County Amateur League will likely fold at the end of the season.
The West Riding County Amateur League will likely fold at the end of the season.

The West Riding County Amateur League is likely to fold at the end of the current season.

That could leave Calderdale sides Ovenden West Riding and Ryburn United searching for a new league, in order to maintain their step seven status - the the first official rung on the non-league ladder.

The league, which has only one division, has been cut from 15 teams to 11 since the beginning of the 2018/19 season.

Bradford Olympic were the latest team to withdraw from the competition, while Wakefield City left the league before a ball was kicked.

Life member and results secretary Philip Rhodes felt that the league was in a good place at the start of the season.

However, he has now admitted that the future of the division is in serious doubt.

"I thought, quite honestly, myself and most of the committee, that with 15 teams we could keep the league going," said Rhodes.

"We had over the minimum of 14 and we thought we might get one more side to bring it up to 16.

"But before we kicked off Wakefield City pulled out. Within two months of the start of the season we lost DRAM Community and AFC Bingley.

"That cut us right down to 12, and we talked to the FA and they were extremely supportive of us.

"We have been a step seven league since step seven was introduced, but it just went from bad to worse."

Calderdale sides have had an influence on the league since its inception in 1922.

Boothtown were the first side from the borough to play in the division, while the likes of Brighouse Town entered in the mid-1970s.

Town are now on step four of the non-league pyramid, plying their trade in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League East Division.

Rhodes said: "Halifax's contribution to the league started when the league began in 1922/23 with Boothtown.

"They were a club that were a regular side and played well over the seasons. Luddendenfoot came in and won the league four times and won the cup a couple of times.

"And over the seasons we have had a lot of sides from the Halifax area. Brighouse Town were the most successful side that came in, they have gone from strength to strength."

Rhodes says that unless the WRCA can get more teams to join the league, they will be forced to scrap the competition.

Meanwhile, league leaders Golcar United have already applied to join the Northern Counties League.

"It could be, and I hope it won't, that we could come to an extraordinary general meeting at the end of the season where we would have to wind the whole league up," Rhodes admitted.

"It is just one of those situations. The clubs know the situation and some of them have already made applications to the West Yorkshire League and Yorkshire Amateur League.

"As far as the club's step seven status is concerned, that is really in the hands of the FA."

Rhodes added: "The league could be wound up, barring three of four clubs coming along asking to join.

"Which I cannot honestly see. It is disappointing."