Ryburn join County Amateur League

Actions from the game, Illingworth SM v Ryburn United, at Natty Lane. Pictured is Ryburn Celebrating
Actions from the game, Illingworth SM v Ryburn United, at Natty Lane. Pictured is Ryburn Celebrating

Ryburn United, one of the top clubs in the Haslem Sheppard Halifax AFL, will play in the West Riding County Amateur League next season.

The ambitious Ripponden outfit, a huge club with as many as 30 boys, girls, senior and veterans teams, have had their application to the WRCAL provisionally accepted and their entry is likely to be rubber stamped at the AGM later this month.

The County Amateur League has been hit by defections in recent years and, after a link-up with the West Yorkshire League was ruled out, is set to have one division of 15 teams in 2018-19.

Ryburn will be facing Ovenden West Riding, who won the lower of two divisions in a canter last season after taking a year out.

Ryburn also have a reserve side in the Halifax AFL and will keep one team in the league. They were champions in 2013-14 and led for much of the latest season before being overtaken by Shelf FC.

Entry to the WRCAL is regarded as the next step forward for Ryburn, who have spent £80,000 on pitch improvements in recent years and hope to have a new clubhouse by the end of 2018.

Secretary Chris Wragg said they were in the final stages of raising £100,000, which would unlock a grant of £480,000 from the Premier League for the project.

Ryburn are holding a Fanzone event at the England versus Panama World Cup game on Sunday, June 24 with a large screen and then a summer festival with a World Cup theme on July 21 involving all sections of the club.

Wragg said the club also had a £50 buy-a-brick scheme, which had already raised almost £6,000.

Halifax AFL fixture secretary David Rattigan said there had been rumours that Ryburn were considering joining another league for two or three seasons.

“We don’t like to lose clubs but you can’t blame them if they think they are going to be moving up in the world,” he said.

The Halifax AFL’s AGM is at Arden Road Club next Monday (8.0) and while the league is set to lose a Ryburn team, they have received applications from former members Elland United and Siddal Place, who already run a successful side in the Halifax Sunday League.

Ovenden WR, who will be based at West Vale again next season with the longer-term aim of playing at the OSCA Foundation pitch at Cousin Lane, are looking forward to facing Ryburn next season.

“It will be good to be playing another side from the Halifax area in our division,” said long-serving official Steve Smith.

Smith said Ovenden were happy with the proposed new West Riding County Amateur League set-up.

“We could have considered going into Division Two of the West Yorkshire League but that is a long, hard slog with teams in Castleford, Ripon, Wetherby and Knaresborough.”