Halifax AFL: Shelf United’s success ‘a massive achievement’

Shelf United captain James Goodwin
Shelf United captain James Goodwin

Shelf United are set to be confirmed as champions of the Halifax AFL for the first time in their history.

It follows the failure of their penultimate Premier Division opponents of the season, Hebden Royd Red Star, to fulfil the rearranged fixture at Trinity Academy on Friday.

Star’s player-manager Chris Garbutt phoned league fixture secretary David Rattigan shortly after 9am on Friday to say they were unable to raise a team because some players were working away.

Although Shelf United are yet to be awarded the points, Rattigan said it appeared to be a formality that would happen.

It means the pressure is off John Lister’s men ahead of Friday’s final league match against Shelf FC.

Shelf FC are the deposed champions but will finish runners-up, ahead of last Wednesday’s Challenge Cup victors Sowerby Bridge, if they win at Trinity.

Lister was disappointed Friday’s match was called off. He said: “It was a bit of an anti-climax in the end. We would have much preferred to have won it playing a game.”

Shelf United have been in existence since 1952 and although they have had a few cup and promotion successes this is the first time they have finished at the head of the league.

“It’s a massive achievement,” said Lister. “We’ve lost one league game all season and we have played some really good football.”

It is United’s second season away from Shelf Park, having been forced to move when Calderdale Council were unwilling to pay for changing room repairs.

They now play on a 3G pitch and haven’t dropped a point on it this season.

Lister said United’s defensive record was the best in the Premier and much of that was down to skipper James Goodwin and fellow centre back Jonathan Farrell.

The addition of Ben Grech during the season had been another boost. The striker has bagged 19 goals in 17 games.

United are hoping to make it a double at the Shay on Monday evening when they play final regulars Huddersfield Amateur in the Halifax FA Saturday Cup final.

Amateurs lost 2-1 at home to Horbury Town in the West Yorkshire League’s top section on Saturday.