Emley rise to the Yorkshire League

July 8, 1970

The new season will mark 120 years of Emley Association Football Club which as far as we know was formed at the beginning of 1903 as Emley Clarence FC.  Initially playing friendlies, the Club joined the Huddersfield Football League in the summer of 1903, playing, it is believed on the cricket pitch that we see today.  By the 1913-14 season the club had established itself and won its first trophy – the Huddersfield League Championship – a title Emley would win on a further 9 occasions.

The Club moved around various pitches around the village, playing at 5 different venues before returning to the Welfare Ground in 1957, and it has been our base ever since.  Competing in various Huddersfield competitions Emley were very successful up to the 1960s, winning the Barlow Cup, the Huddersfield Invitation Cup and the Huddersfield Charity Cup, each on several occasions, as well as other competitions around the area.  But it was the 1960s that transformed a locally successful club

In 1968 Emley celebrated a hat-trick of Huddersfield League Championships and the forward-looking committee decided to enter the FA Amateur Cup, equivalent of the FA Vase today.  One of the key people involved in this decision was Club Secretary Gordon Adamson:

“I had been at Kirkburton and Huddersfield Juniors as a left back.  I also played for the RAF when I was serving my national service.  I joined Emley and I came home at weekends, someone would pick me up at the station and take me to wherever we were playing”

“In 1961 the secretary, Frank Taylor gave up.  I was Club captain and they asked me to take over. I wasn’t very excited about it but I said I’d give it a go for a short period.  That short period went on to last until 1996!”

“When we moved to the Welfare Ground in the 1950s we had some of the best facilities around.  This meant we could get some of the best players in the Huddersfield area.  We won the Huddersfield League three times in succession and decided to enter the FA Amateur Cup.”

The Amateur Cup was dominated by clubs from the North-East and the South-East which were the hot beds of Amateur Football.  Emley, still playing local football (they would go on to win the Huddersfield League for a fourth successive time in 1968-69) were not expecting to make an immediate impact and had four qualifying rounds to get through before reaching the competition proper.

But, the incredible talent in that team of local players took the club right through the qualifying rounds to a match at home to Evenwood Town from the North-East.  They were beaten 2-1, followed by London based Dulwich Hamlet, they were beaten too, also at home.  Next up was Barking and a match which saw the largest ever crowd at the Welfare Ground, where 5,134 squeezed in in awful weather.  The conditions were so bad the game was abandoned after 55 minutes, with Emley 2 down.  The replay 2 weeks later saw Emley put up a real fight, only to go down 1-0.

Gordon Adamson: “There was a lot of interest in the game and it was covered by local television.  But the torrential rain waterlogged the pitch and meant the first game couldn’t continue”.

“The week before, we had built a terrace along the touch line using railway sleepers taken from Crigglestone Colliery which had closed.”

This had been an incredible experience for the village team and the following season they were accepted into the Yorkshire League which was a large step up in quality from the Huddersfield League and was the first step in an amazing journey through the higher reaches of non-league football over the next 30 years.  Emley again did well in the Amateur Cup in 1969-70, again reaching the 3rd round (last 16), this time going out to Barking’s neighbours, Dagenham in a replay.  In the Yorkshire League, Emley finished runners-up in Division 2, but were not promoted due to a re-organisation of the League.  This was redressed the following season when Emley finished fourth and were promoted (again because of re-organisation) to the Yorkshire League Division 1, which the club would come to dominate in the 1970s and early 80s.

Emley squad 1969-70 celebrate winning the Yorkshire League Cup. Gordon Adamson on the far right.

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