Halifax Irish FC folds

Actions from Halifax Irish v Ryburn United, football, at West Vale. Pictured is Anthony Brown
Actions from Halifax Irish v Ryburn United, football, at West Vale. Pictured is Anthony Brown

Halifax Irish FC has become the latest high-profile casualty of Calderdale’s amateur soccer scene.

The club has resigned from the Premier Division of the West Riding County Amateur League, having collected 14 points from 12 Premier Division games this season.

Long-serving secretary Kevin Wharvell informed the league of the decision late last week.

His message said: “It is with a sad heart that I have to inform you that after a meeting last night Halifax Irish Club has folded.

“We have lost so many players over the past few weeks it has become impossible to guarantee that we would have a side every week, therefore this decision has been made.”

It means Calderdale no longer has a team in the County Amateur League following Ovenden West Riding’s demise at the start of the current season.

Ovenden and Irish were the top two amateur clubs in the area for many years, dominating the Halifax FA Cup competition.

Their best players down the years included goal machine Phil Baker, ‘keeper Johnny Hough, Andy Thompson, John Hendrick and George Paterson.

Irish were celebrating their 50th anniversary as a football club this year.

They started in the Halifax AFL and enjoyed great success, a hat-trick of Premier Division titles starting in the 1983-84 season prompting them to join the County Amateur League.

They retained a presence in the Halifax AFL, in which their second and third teams competed until fairly recently.

Irish’s traditional colours were green and white and they played at Savile Park before their firsts started sharing the railed-off Natty Lane pitch at Illingworth with Ovenden.

Last season Irish reached agreement to rent the former Mackintosh’s cricket ground at West Vale.

Irish finished an excellent fourth in the Premier in 2015-16 and made a promising start to the current campaign under boss Chris Ellerby.

However, Ellerby resigned after six years in charge at the start of October, having been offered the job at Nostell Miners Welfare in the North Counties East League.

Four players went with him and Tony Kniveton, who took the reins at Irish, has seen further departures and some heavy defeats in the four games since.

Wharvell said he didn’t blame Ellerby for Irish’s current misfortune and had no issue with individuals testing themselves at a higher level.

He said there was “a general apathy” affecting local football and a lack of commitment from some in a shrinking pool of players.

Wharvell retains a hope that Irish might return with a team next season, possibly in the Halifax AFL, but admitted that might be wishful thinking on his part.

“We will have to let the dust settle first,” he said.