Sunday League: Amateur side Waiters aiming to serve up memorable finale before calling it a day

Waiters Arms during happier times, celebrating a cup semi-final victory
Waiters Arms during happier times, celebrating a cup semi-final victory

Waiters Arms boss Adam Fenton hopes the club can go out on a high after announcing they will fold at the end of the season.

The club has been going for 15 years, with Fenton a founding member, and with the backing of the Waiters Arms pub and a couple of locals who offered to buy kit and equipment.

Actions from the game, Panda FC v Waiters Arms, Halifax FA Cup semi-final, at Calderdale College. Pictured is Tariq Pervez and Scott Chegg

Actions from the game, Panda FC v Waiters Arms, Halifax FA Cup semi-final, at Calderdale College. Pictured is Tariq Pervez and Scott Chegg

Fenton recalls at the time there were three divisions in the Halifax League and two in the Brighouse League comprising of about 50 teams in total.

Waiters had some early success, winning the League Cup and gaining promotion, followed by a few tough seasons including a relegation

But they bounced straight back, winning the league and reaching the final of the League Cup.

They then reached the semi finals of the County Cup two years in a row - “the second being my biggest regret as we should have won it that year,” said Fenton - before being promoted to the Premier Division, where they have remained for the last five seasons, finishing in the top four in each of the last four years.

“We won the Senior Cup two years ago and have the chance to win it again this season to hopefully finish on a high,” said Fenton.

“We’ve had some great rivalries over the years with Bowling Green, Engineers and Carrington standing out but arguably the biggest has been with FC Panda who we’ve met every year and taken each other close in semi finals and finals as well as recently the Premier Division title.

“We should have won more with the players with we’ve had and have notably an unenviable record of losing in at the last count 12 semi finals but unfortunately the social aspect of the game with lads going out on a Saturday after their games has killed us at points.

“For me that’s one of the biggest changes over the last five or six years in that you can go out until 7am drinking in Halifax where as before it was 2am so you had a chance of waking your lads up for an 11’o clock kick off.

“Match day fees have probably killed off some teams as I know when we set up it was £350 for a council field with changing facilities and now it’s double that, although the last four years we’ve used Trinity which is a superb provision and cost a bit more for the 3G pitch but at least you don’t have to put the nets up, mark it out and pick up dog litter before a game.

“Our team has also reached a natural end with most lads approaching 30 getting married and having children so their availability has been significantly reduced leading to a change in team every week. It’s the same for myself - my little lad plays for Ryburn and I don’t get to watch him that much so I will be able to do that more and maybe get more involved in the coaching down there.

“I have player-managed the club all the way through but recently had knee surgery so, where before I could call upon myself to make one in, I’ve not even been able to that this year so I’m partially retiring at 37.

“I know other clubs are in similar situation but with the Waiters being a one-man-band if you like there is no-one who could really step in and run it.

“Club finances are a nightmare too as its hard work chasing subs up so you end up paying for most of it yourself, getting the water and kit etc.

“I am just extremely thankful to Dean and Gary Park of Park Metal Polishing who have paid our pitch fees and bought us training jackets over the last few seasons, otherwise we could have folded long ago.

“I would also like to thank the Sunday League committee past and present: Ivan, Nige, Chris, Malcolm and Mike who have helped me at points along the journey.

“The refs and opposition players also, as I’ve probably wound some of them up along the way but I’ve always shook hands at the end of the game and gone for a drink and never sent a report in about any official.

“As you get older you realise how hard it is for them as much as you get frustrated with some decisions. So all the best for the future to those who stay involved.

“Most of all I’d like to thank anyone who has ever played for me especially the lads like Dean, Woody and Cooky who have been there at least 12 years.

“If anything it’s been a laugh if not despairing at times and I wouldn’t change any of it, I just hope we can win the last two cups we are in and finishing on a high. Then I can enjoy my Saturday nights and Sunday hangovers as much as everybody else.”