Former champions Bardsey pull out of West Yorkshire League

Bardsey celebrate winning the West Yorkshire League Premier Division in 2014
Bardsey celebrate winning the West Yorkshire League Premier Division in 2014
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One of the most successful amateur football clubs in the area has confirmed its withdrawal from the West Yorkshire League.

Bardsey FC has folded its first team from the Premier Division after struggling to cope with a mass player exodus over the summer.

In the last seven seasons, Bardsey have lifted the West Yorkshire League Premier Division title on four occasions and was widely considered one of the top teams in the region.

They last won the league title in the 2013/14 season with a record points tally of 74.

But the club faced a nine-point deduction after postponing three fixtures this season, including last Saturday’s away trip to Horbury Town.

The club will continue running one team in the Harrogate and District League, and junior teams at Keswick Lane remain unaffected.

Bardsey striker Rob Dickinson has scored more than 500 goals in local league football

Bardsey striker Rob Dickinson has scored more than 500 goals in local league football

The decision to withdraw from the league was confirmed via the club’s social media site on Thursday morning.

A statement read: “We as a club hope that all other clubs that see us as the benchmark can emulate our success and have the great times we’ve had.

“With the best chairman in the league Graham Hopton and the best secretary Paul Jobson how couldn’t we have ended up the best about #loved it.

“To all the clubs we’ve locked horns with over the years. Thanks for the ride - it’s been emotional. Night night.”

Rival club Wetherby Athletic tweeted: “Really sad news to hear that @bardseyfc have withdrawn from the @WYAFLOfficial with immediate affect. #greatteam #winners #trophies “

Lee Barraclough led the village side to four championships in a six-year tenure as manager at Keswick Lane.

The legendary boss admitted he was “heartbroken” at the demise of the club, six months after stepping down as manager.

“People might have just seen me as manager but I played for them before that. It’s heartbreaking to see what we we have got to

Bardsey captain Jamie Thompson against Beeston St Anthony's

Bardsey captain Jamie Thompson against Beeston St Anthony's

“But nobody has tried harder than Graham Hopton and captain Jamie Thompson.

“Graham set up the club from the bottom of the Harrogate League to become the best team in the County. He deserves a lot of praise for that.

“Football goes in cycles, and unfortunately, we just don’t have the quality of footballers there.

“They have lost 90 per cent of the first team squad from last year, and the youth coming through just wasn’t good enough.”

Barraclough said the West Riding County FA’s controversial decision to throw Bardsey out of the County Challenge Cup last December began the downfall.

Bardsey were chucked out of the competition after the County FA said they had fielded an ineligible player in a 2-1 win over Boroughbridge.

Former Bardsey boss Lee Barraclough blamed the West Riding County FA for the demise of the club he holds legendary status at

Former Bardsey boss Lee Barraclough blamed the West Riding County FA for the demise of the club he holds legendary status at

“When they pulled the plug on that County Cup run, they might as well have turned the lights out on the football club,” the former boss added.

West Riding County FA spokesman Daniel McGeachie said: “It’s something that happened 12 months ago and a line had been drawn under it.

“If Bardsey were struggling and felt this decision was going to come they should have made us aware.

“We are there to help if people tell us.

“It’s with absolute regreat that Bardsey have folded. It’s bad news for us that one of the most succesful clubs has folded but we are more gutted that they didn’t feel they could tell us about it.”

Bardsey also posted a number of tweets hailing past players and managers on Twitter on Thursday morning

Bardsey also posted a number of tweets hailing past players and managers on Twitter on Thursday morning