AFC Emley

The original Emley AFC's history stretches back as far as 1903. They were somewhat successful in Yorkshire non-league football over the years, winning several championships but were perhaps most famous for their FA Cup run in the later part of the 1990s which saw them playing against West Ham United.

Things started to go wrong for the original club in 2000 after the Northern Premier League announced new ground regulation rulings. As Emley were unable to improve their ground, they moved to Wakefield to avoid expulsion from the league.

The move and name change to Wakefield & Emley F.C. in 2003, alienated many Emley fans who had supported the club throughout the years. The final straw came when the Northern Counties East League discontinued its reserve league as the reserve team had continued to play at the old Welfare Ground in Emley even after the first team move to Wakefield.

The disbanding of the Reserve Team lead to several fans and former members forming the current club in the name of A.F.C. Emley in 2005, moving back to their home village. During their first season, the club finished third in the West Yorkshire League Division One. A year later the club was successful in an application to become members of the Northern Counties East Football League Division One. Joint managers Nicky Bramald and Ray Dennis stood down at the end of the 2007-08 season after the club struggled to find its feet at the higher level.

For the 2008-09 season, AFC Emley appointed ex-professional footballer Ian Banks as 1st team manager assisted by Grant Crookes. The club occupied a place in the top five of the league for most of the season but inconsistent form towards the end of the season saw them finish in 8th place.

In 2009/10 the team once again finished in 8th position after a promising first half of the season. They did however enjoy runs to the quarter finals in the League and Sheffield Cups defeating Unibond League side Worksop Town on the way. The newly formed reserve side performed better however finishing 3rd in the WRCL 2nd division and winning the League Cup under the leadership of Darren Hepworth.

Emley parted company with Banks and Crookes in May 2010 and appointed up and coming manager Darren Bland to the post as they looked to build and challenge for Promotion. Bland had a mixed start to his tenure with a number of players leaving the club, requiring him to draft in new personnel. A string of disappointing results in the league was contrasted with decent form in the cups and victories over higher-level opponents Runcorn Linnets and Winterton Rangers.

Bland resigned in November 2010 to take up a coaching role with Sheffield United’s academy. Reserve team manager Darren Hepworth was asked to step up to manage the First Team and immediately brought stability to the side. A string of good performances propelled his side from the bottom 3 up into the top half of the table and ultimately completed the season in yet another 8th place.

For season 2011/12 Hepworth enlisted a new assistant in the shape of the vastly experienced Roly Lanes and the pair endured a turbulent season losing key players through injury and suspension but finished strongly to end up in 10th place.

2012/13 saw fresh optimism in the club with the arrival of Pat Piearcey as Head of Player Development as Hepworth strove to bring a more professional approach to First Team management. This was underlined by the appointment of Joe Howson to manage the development squad and the formation of an Under 19 side under the leadership of Alan Semley. The season saw many highs including a best ever 4th Round Proper appearance in the FA Vase, the away win at Barnoldswick in the 3rd Round being a day which will live long in the memories of those who were present, together with another best in the form of a 7th place finish in the NCEL 1st Division. On an individual note, striker Ashley Flynn finished as the division’s leading scorer with 42 goals, 7 ahead of his nearest challenger.

2013/14 brought more changes as the Development Squad moved to the Lancashire League enabling them to meet a higher standard of opposition. In a successful debut season they finished 2nd to run-away winners FC United of Manchester.

Under the stewardship of Richard Spychalski the Under 19s clinched a league and cup double playing some attractive fluent football that resulted in a free-scoring side that dominated games from the first to the last.

AFC Emley’s partnership with Sheffield United continues for another season. Emley will benefit from players joining them from Sheffield United's Academy while there will also be opportunities for AFC Emley's coaching staff to observe and learn from their counterparts at Bramall Lane.

Where next?

League & Cup (AFC Emley) 2005-06 West Yorkshire League Division 1 - 3rd/15 (Promoted to NCEL Division One) Sheffield & Hall