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1949 - The Birth Of Wetherby Athletic.

Over the years, the misconception that Wetherby Athletic was born from the merger of Wetherby AFC and Wetherby Rovers has often been heralded as the starting point of the club, however this is a myth!

Wetherby Athletic and its reserve team were in fact formed due to the withdrawal and subsequent folding of previous incarnation Wetherby United, due to the inability to raise a team for the new campaign. In a meeting held at the Riverside Café on the 26th August 1949, it was unanimously decided that a new club should be formed to take the place of United who had finished 9th (out of 13 teams) of the Harrogate and District League Division I the previous season with the record of P 24 W 8 D 2 L 14 GF 46 GA 94 PTS 18.

Mr T.Richardson was elected to the role of Chairman and with the rest of the board comprising of Mr Norman Smith (vice-chair), Mr E.Gray (secretary), and Mr T.Dowling (treasurer). An ex-officio committee containing Messers. J.D.Baker, F.Ady, R.Breese, N.Howell (sen), H.Barker, W.Gray, N.Howell (jun), R.Brown and R.Williams was also appointed.

At the meeting was also another important figure in local football, that of Mr C.Roome. Mr Roome was the Harrogate and District League Secretary and it was agreed that Athletic could enter two teams to replace both former United teams. So Wetherby Athletic took over in Division I whilst the reserve team would play in Division III (B). Wetherby’s first team would face Harrogate YMCA, Pateley Bridge, Starbeck Railway Athletic, H.M.S Ceres, Beckwithshaw, Harrogate Boys Club Old Boys, Christ Church Old Boys, Ripon City, Boroughbridge, Knaresborough Rovers and SME Ripon (although by the end of the season SME Ripon would have withdrawn and their record expunged) whilst the reserves would face Boston Spartans, O. Atkinson’s Athletic, Kirk Deighton Rangers, Harrogate Gas Company, Boroughbridge Reserves, Whixley, Collingham, Spofforth and Bramham Rangers.

Picture used courtesy and with permission of The Ackrill Media Group.

Wetherby Athletic’s first fixture took place on the 10th September 1949 when they took to the pitch at Scaur Bank to face Harrogate Post Office Savings Bank and it proved to be quite a game with the final score ending up 3-3. Athletic’s goals came from E.Etherington, N.Leafe and W.Gray and they lined up as follows: R.Breese, P.Scott, E.Etherington, N.Leafe, P.Simmons, R.Stainton, W.Gray, N.Kitchen, J.Etherington, T.Richardson and R.Williams.

Over the next three games, Athletic would remain unbeaten as wins against Harrogate YMCA and Pateley Bridge was followed by a 2-2 draw against Starbeck. Our first defeat came on the 1st Oct when H.M.S Ceres beat us 4-1 (W.Stubbs scoring our goal).

The first cup match in Athletic’s history ended in a 3-2 win over local rivals Kirk Deighton Rangers. Goals from A.Gray, J.Etherington and F.Vipurs saw us through to the second round of the Harrogate and District League Challenge Cup on the 3rd December.

In total, we entered two cups and reached the second round of the Challenge Cup where Boroughbridge ended our interest 4-2 (goals from W.Gray and W.Stubbs) however the Whitworth Cup proved to be more fruitful as we reached the semi-final before bowing out at the hands of Harrogate Town 9-2 (our goals both came from J.Etherington).

League wise, we never progressed higher than 4th in the table, but compared to Wetherby United’s final season, this was a massive improvement and more than justified the decision to form and enter a new club.

With the final game of our inaugural season ending in a 3-2 win over Harrogate YMCA (unfortunately no information is available regarding scorers), the league table wrapped up as follows:

Picture used courtesy and with permission of The Ackrill Media Group.

Unfortunately Information on several games is sparse, but what is known is that we had four players who ended the season in double goalscoring figures. W.Gray and W.Stubbs scored at least 12 whilst J.Etherington got 11 and F.Vipurs scored 10. Overall it looked like the first team used a minimum of 25 players during the season with W.Gray leading the way in appearances (at least 20 known).

Our reserve team didn’t fare too well in their first season and the final table for Division III (B) would show that they finished in 8th place (out of 10) with the record of P 18 W 4 D 0 L 14 GF 53 GA 90 PTS 8

If anyone can furnish me with any other information regarding the 1949-1950 season, please contact me here.

Coming soon will be the next instalment which covers the 1950's to 1980's.

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