Farsley Celtic A.F.C.
|Full name||Farsley Celtic Association Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Villagers, the Celts|
|Dissolved||10 March 2010|
|Capacity||3,900 (400 seated)|
|2008–09||Conference North, 19th|
Farsley Celtic Association Football Club was an English football club based in Farsley, in the City of Leeds. The club was known by the nicknames of the Villagers and the Celts; their colours were blue and white. Founded in 1908, the club spent their entire existence in non-league football, winning several titles in Northern England. In the FA Cup, the club reached the First Round twice to play league opposition. In June 2009, they entered administration with reported debts of £750,000, and on 10 March 2010 they were formally disbanded by the administrators. Following the disbandment of the club a new Farsley club was formed in 2010 Farsley A.F.C..
Farsley Celtic was founded in 1908 by a group of local men from the village of Farsley. During their earliest years, Farsley competed in local leagues around the Leeds area and Hospital Cups. As the club moved into the 1920s, they moved to a more permanent ground at Red Lane, opposite Farsley Cricket Club.
After the Second World War ended the club purchased their current ground of Throstle Nest from the local council, where they played their first match in 1948 against West Yorkshire side Frickley Colliery.
The Villagers moved up a level for the 1949–50 season, into the Yorkshire League Division Two where they finished eighth during their first season and scored 100 goals in 34 games; however, they also conceded heavily. By the 1951–52 season Farsley Celtic were Yorkshire League Division Two champions and were promoted to the Yorkshire League Division One, which was its top level.
By the mid-1950s, Farsley had started to steady themselves in the upper half of the Yorkshire League. During the 1954–55 season they had a notable run in the FA Cup, reaching the Fourth Qualifying Round before going out to Wigan Athletic 3–1. After two consecutive seasons of finishing runners-up, Farsley were champions of the Yorkshire League in 1959–60; however, the club was not promoted due to failing ground regulations.
Throughout the 1960s the club were stable within the Yorkshire League, always finishing within the top 7 places. For the second time in their history, the Celts were crowned champions of the league in 1968–69 but again were not promoted to a higher level. They came runners-up twice in the early 1970s, proving themselves to be among the best in the league.
In the FA Cup, Farsley Celtic reached the First Round in 1974; the game was against Football League Division Three side Tranmere Rovers at Elland Road before a crowd of 11,000, and ended 2–0 to Tranmere. The rest of the decade for the West Yorkshire club was largely unremarkable, as they bounced between the Yorkshire League Divisions One and Two.
Northern Leagues: 1980s and 1990s
In 1982, the Yorkshire and Midland Leagues merged to form the Northern Counties East League. Celtic started in Division One North and for the first two seasons they finished 3rd. In 1984–85 they won the Division One North championship and were promoted to the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.
It did not take the club long to rise up that league, either: after only two seasons in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division they finished as runners-up to Alfreton Town and were invited into the Northern Premier League as founding members of the Northern Premier League First Division. Farsley's first slew of seasons in the Northern Premier League First Division often saw the club near the bottom end of the table; this pattern continued until the mid- to late 1990s when they finished in the top six for three seasons in a row. Striker Robbie Whellans regularly scored 25 goals a season in the 1990s.
Upper regions of non-league
Farsley finished third in the 2003–04 season and earned themselves promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Their stay in the Premier Division was short but productive: in their first season they finished 3rd; the following season, after a fourth-place finish, they won promotion to the Conference North after defeating North Ferriby United 2–1 after extra time in the play-off final in May 2006.
Farsley reached the First Round proper of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history during the 2006–07 season, after beating Cambridge City 2–1 in the 4th Qualifying Round. They were drawn against Milton Keynes Dons and held them to a 0–0 draw, before being defeated 2–0 in a heated replay at the National Hockey Stadium. In the Conference North, the club also performed well and reached the play-off finals after finishing in 5th place, and played Hinckley United for promotion into the Conference National. In a memorable match Farsley took the lead early on through Gareth Grant. However, Hinckley hit back with a quickfire double to go in at half time 2–1 ahead. Farsley equalised through Damien Reeves late in the second half but again the Leicestershire outfit took the lead with a third goal. All looked dead and buried until first a Ryan Crossley header then a Simeon Bambrook penalty for the winning fourth goal confirmed the Villagers' promotion to the top flight of non-league football for the first time in their history.
The promotion meant that, for the first time, only two leagues separated them from local teams Leeds United (just six miles away) and one league separated them from Bradford City (four miles away). However, Farsley were relegated at the end of the 2007–08 season back to the Conference North, which widened the gap once more (though Leeds United's hopes of promotion via the play-offs were ended by a 1–0 loss to Doncaster Rovers at Wembley Stadium, preventing the gap being widened even more).
The club were preparing to play in the Conference North for a second season, but were removed from the division by the ruling body on 3 July 2009, for financial irregularities, leaving them with no alternative league to play in. That decision was reversed on 10 July 2009, but they started the Conference North season on –10 points. After a good start, which soon overcame the 10–point deduction, the club was folded by the administrators. On 4 September 2009 it was announced that Farsley Celtic had folded. However, shortly afterwards they were given a reprieve after possible new investors contacted the club.
An infamous moment occurred when goalkeeper Piotr Skiba, having saved a ball, accidentally threw the ball into his own goal. The video can be seen online.
Possible name change
Farsley Celtic announced in July 2007 that they were considering changing their name to FC Leeds or Leeds Celtic because Farsley is not well known and so their fanbase is small. Farsley chairman Andy Firbank said: "If we need to change our name to take us up another level from a crowd support point of view then that's what we need to do." In January 2008, Firbank confirmed that the club still planned a name change at the end of the season with the name Farsley Celtic Leeds, which would then be shortened to FC Leeds, his personal choice for the new name.
Ground development and Administration
Years of success began to catch up on the club and unpaid taxes began to grow. In 2008, land adjacent to the ground was going to be sold off for re-development; however Leeds City Council rejected planning permission, concluding that the development of a greenfield site could not be supported. The recession meant that the value of the land decreased significantly. Former chairman Andy Firbank continued to campaign for the development during September and October 2008 and was able to lodge another planning application which was met with a positive response by committee members but was ultimately rejected. On 27 May 2009, it was announced by club president John Palmer that the club were "owing at least £200,000 in unpaid taxes". Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs told the club that they would have to attend a 'winding-up' hearing at the High Court and refused a request to adjourn the hearing pending the formal appointment of an administrator. It looked as though it was going to be the end of the 101–year-old club, but on the evening of 30 June it was announced that the club would enter administration with Robert Adamson and Philip Lyon of Mazars LLP, which meant the club would not have to travel to the hearing the following day. However, in March 2010, after agreement between a consortium and the administrator for the takeover of the club could not be reached, the club was disbanded. The club was later removed from the Football Conference North and their playing record for the 2009–10 season expunged.
Following Celtic's demise, a new club was created to replace them. Named Farsley A.F.C., they played their first season in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division in 2010–11, winning the league in the process and with it, promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One North.
- Conference North
- Promoted: 2006–07
- Northern Premier League
- Promoted: 2005–06
- Northern Premier League Division One
- Promoted: 2003–04
- Northern Premier League Challenge Cup
- Winners : 2005–06
- Northern Counties East League Premier Division
- Runners-up: 1986–87
- Northern Counties East League Division One North
- Champions: 1984–85
- West Riding County Cup
- Winners: 1957–58, 1959–60, 1966–67, 1970–71, 1983–84, 1987–88, 1994–95, 1996–97, 2000–01, 2005–06
- Yorkshire Football League
- Champions: 1959–60, 1968–69
- Runners-up: 1957–58, 1958–59, 1970–71, 1971–72
- Yorkshire Football League Division Two
- Champions: 1951–52
- Promoted: 1976–77, 1980–81
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- All Yorkshire League Division Three results achieved by Farsley Celtic reserves