The first ever Silsden AFC was formed at
a meeting at Silsden Liberal Club in September 1904. They adopted the blue
& white playing kit that had been used by the recently defunct village
rugby club, and a field adjacent to the original rugby field on Keighley Road
was hired. It is amazing that the same field is used to this day with our
brillant new facilities and football ground. One of the prime movers behind the
original Silsden club was Irish GP Dr John Purcell. In their first season they
won the prestigious Keighley Charity Cup at their first attempt and then went
on to play in the Keighley & District League, which they first won in 1909,
before joining the Bradford & District League for a short while. In the
1913-14 season they won the Charity Cup for the second time with a 3-2 success
over Cullingworth. War disrupted the 1914-15 season, but Silsden lifted the
Keighley League title again.
1921-22 was to prove a highly successful
season for Silsden sides. Silsden FC started the season by absorbing Silsden
White Star (they absorbed lots of other local sides around this period) won the
Charity Cup again after a 3-0 victory over Skipton Christ Church. They then won
it again the next year. Silsden were at this time among a number of local clubs
wanting a higher grade of football in which to play and so became founder
members of the West Riding County Amateur League. In 1922-23 they also entered
the FA Amateur Cup for the first time, before moving on to the South Craven and
then Airedale & Craven League. In all, they won the Charity Cup nine times,
in 1904-5, 1913-4, 1921-2, 1923-4, 1931-2, 1933-4, 1934-5, 1935-6, 1939-40.
Their league record was great, with championship wins in the Keighley &
District League (1908-09, 1914-15, 1939-40) and Airedale & Craven League in
In the 1933-34 season, Silsden beat
Sutton to regain the Charity Cup. They also won the league cup (defeating
Barnoldswick 5-2 in the final) and, for the first time, the Keighley &
District FA Cup – Cullingworth YMCA were thrashed 6-1 in the final at Lawkholme
Lane. At the end of the 1933-34 season, Silsden resigned from the Airedale
& Craven League to join the senior division of the Bradford Amateur League,
the reason being a desired increase in support and revenue. They were pipped
for the title but at least the Charity Cup was won again, Sutton United
defeated 3-2 Silsden returned to the Keighley League for the 1937-38 season.
The gloomy economic climate at the time had seen many clubs go to the wall, and
there is no doubt that Silsden were also feeling the pinch. Despite this the
District Cup was won for only the second time, holders Guardhouse defeated 3-2.
Silsden re-emerged in the Craven League
following the war and then decided to step up again to the stronger Bradford
Amateur League again. The 1951-52 season saw Silsden try their luck in the
Wharfedale (Saturday) League. Eight years were spent in this league. Their switch
to the Wharfedale League in 1951 was the start of a sustained period of
success, although a league title would elude them for a little longer. A new
dressing block at the Keighley Road ground was built, constructed from an old
air raid shelter, with bathing accommodation added. This was described by one
club official as ‘undoubtedly the finest in the district’ (not Pete Hanson).
The 1951-52 campaign also saw the
Keighley Cup return to Silsden, Sutton United defeated by a solitary Arthur
Tillotson header in a tight final.
The 1954-55 season at last proved
successful, with the league title accompanying the Keighley Cup to Keighley
Road – and for the time being Silsden AFC were undoubtedly the top team in
Silsden’s 1955-56 campaign proved to be
highly successful. Guiseley were the only side to lower their colours in the
league, but Silsden had the last laugh in the league cup final 7 days later –
winning 6-1. Steeton were the next to follow – defeated 5-3 in the Keighley Cup
Silsden then endured another lean period,
the side replaced their own reserves in the increasingly popular Craven League
in 1959, although 1962 saw the introduction of a Sunday team.
Silsden’s return to glory came during the
1963-64 season with a Craven League and Cup double and they were elected
straight into the West Riding County Amateur League’s top division for the
1964-65 campaign. They then ended Keighley Central’s fine winning run in the
District Cup, with a fine 3-1.
The remaining years of the 1960s saw
Silsden struggle badly in the County Amateur League. One notable end-of-season
feature around this time was a Six-a-Side Tournament promoted by the club at
Keighley Road. The most notable winners of this popular event were Colne
Dynamoes in 1967.
Things would change dramatically within a
few years, and Silsden were about to embark on not only another highly
successful era, but one which would prove to be the most controversial of any
local team in history! When Keighley Cup holders Keighley Shamrocks withdrew
from local football due to problems with their ground in the summer of 1969,
the club’s players moved ‘en-masse’ down the road to Silsden. Over the next
decade the side would win the Keighley FA Cup seven times, and lift both West
Riding County Amateur and West Yorkshire League titles. Yet, despite their
immense success, events would transpire that would lead them to a self
inflicted downfall by the end of the 1970s. 1970-71 saw them defeat champions
Luddendenfoot in the league cup final and then Keighley Central in the district
The following season proved even more
successful. Cowling were hammered 4-0 in the Keighley Cup final, and Silsden
became the first side from the district to win the County Amateur League title,
made even more pleasing by the fact that the reserve side had wrapped up their
championship for the second successive season. The reserves also won their
league cup competition, but the main talking point from their camp was a 7-1
thrashing of nearest challengers Liversedge in January, when Derek Hobson
scored all seven!
Silsden made a poor start to the defence
of their County Amateur League title and had to settle for second place behind
Luddendenfoot at the end of the 1972-73 season. Unfortunately this heralded the
start of the club’s problems as they were then expelled from the league and
fined £10 for refusing to play a league cup final against Lower Hopton on the
specified date. Silsden claimed that they were unable to play due to injuries,
and the fact that six members of the team were due to travel to Wembley to
watch the Leeds United/Sunderland FA Cup final – leaving the club with only
seven players available. The club was therefore forced to find another league
in which to play. It was hoped that a step up to the Yorkshire League might be
possible, but instead a place was found in the West Yorkshire League – albeit
one step below the premier, in division one.
Silsden proved too strong for their
opponents in their new league. Silsden wrapped up their league and cup double.
Another double came Silsden’s way when Westfield Rovers (Shipley) were defeated
5-2 in the District Cup final, and Steeton Reserves were thrashed 8-1 in the
Keighley Supplementary Cup final.
Silsden were not invited to join the
premier division so they had to play in division 1 for a further season. As
expected, they shot straight to the top of the league again at the start of the
1974-75 season. Their 49 match unbeaten league run ended when Ansons Sports
defeated them at the end of March, but by then the title was already a formality.
The Keighley Cup, as expected, was retained – Westfield Rovers going down 5-0
to the favourites. Another successful campaign was made even sweeter when the
West Yorkshire League at last allowed them access to their premier division.
The 1975-76 campaign did not signal the
end of Silsden’s success. With former Welsh International Trevor Hockey
assisting Ian Patrickson with coaching duties, the side carried on where they
left off. They won their third successive league title, their fourth in five seasons,
and their first (and ultimately last) West Yorkshire Premier League title. To
cap this, Silsden Reserves also won their league and Bingley Juniors were
defeated in the Keighley & District FA Cup final.
However, history was to repeat itself.
Following incidents between Silsden and Fryston players at the league’s end of
season presentation evening, Silsden were expelled from the West Yorkshire
League! Silsden were again left without a league to play in. Following a
successful application to the West Riding County Amateur League, they were
forgiven for their past sins and accepted back into that league – albeit a step
backwards again as a place in division one, and not the premier division.
So Silsden began the 1976-77 campaign at
square one again. Phoenix Park pipped them for the first division title,
although Silsden did at least lift the division one league cup, as well as the
Keighley Cup, with victory over Crosshills in the final. With both Trevor and
Alan Hockey in fine form, Silsden made no mistake the following year as they
swept to the County Amateur League’s first division championship, and retained
their league cup and District Cup titles. Silsden’s reserves also wrapped up
their second successive County Amateur reserve division section, but storm
clouds were gathering. Despite having been officially promoted to the premier
division of the County Amateur League, Silsden were once again thrown out of
the league at a later management meeting for ‘violent and abusive conduct by
players and officials both on and off the field’. As if a third expulsion in
six years, and such damning accusations against the club were not enough, the
club then saw their facilities taken from them by the trustees of the ground.
So Sunday team Silsden United were installed as tenants and they became the new
Silsden AFC reformed their Saturday team
in time for the 1980-81 season. They were accepted into the first division of
the Craven League, gaining promotion at the first attempt, and their 1981-82
campaign almost brought them the premier division championship. They were
prevented from lifting the title on goal-difference.
They were re-admitted to the County
Amateur League for the 1983-84 campaign and were elected to division one.
Twelve months later, the name of Silsden was back on the Keighley Cup,
defeating Crosshills 3-1 in the final. Although they had just become the first
side to win both Keighley Saturday and Sunday Cups in the same season, Silsden
were denied promotion to the County Amateur’s premier division for just a
little while longer following their third place at the end of the 1984-85
season. At least they had managed to avoid controversy.
Silsden achieved promotion to the premier
division at the end of the 1985-86 campaign, but they struggled at the foot of
the table during the 1987-88 season, eventually finishing second from bottom.
The loss of Andy Geary for part of the season was a telling factor. By
Christmas 1988 they had resigned from the league. Rooted to the bottom of the
table after having already pulled the plug on their reserve side, the club
cited a lack of youngsters coming through as the main cause of their demise.
The ‘new’ Silsden had lasted only a decade, during which time they had risen to
the same level at which their predecessors had achieved considerable success.
During the intervening seven years, and
despite considerable success on Sundays, Silsden was again without a senior
Saturday team. However, Silsden Juniors, fielding teams at all age groups in
local junior leagues was building in strength, and when its under 16 team
decided to stay together rather than join other local clubs, the time was right
to start a new chapter in the history of Silsden AFC.
When Silsden AFC re-joined the Craven
& District League at the start of the 1996-97 season there were high hopes
that past glories could be equalled. Only one team in history from Keighley had
ever won the County Cup – Keighley Central in 1968, but that was about to
Since 1996 it is fair to say that Silsden
AFC have rewritten the record books. The amazing run of success enjoyed by the
club has far outstripped that enjoyed by previous ‘great’ Silsden sides, and at
the point of the centenary there was no doubt that Silsden AFC were far and
away the top amateur club in the county. Andy Geary as manager took the side to
new heights, ably backed by assistant Mick Hook and the strong committee which
formed, behind the team.
THE RISE & RISE OF
1996-97 Craven & District League
division 2 runners-up
1997-98 Craven & District League
division 1 runners-up
1998-99 Craven & District League
premier division champions (unbeaten)
1999-2000 West Riding County Amateur
League division 2 champions
2000-2001 West Riding County Amateur
League division 1 champions
2001-02 West Riding County Amateur League
premier division runners-up, county cup winners
2002-03 West Riding County Amateur League
premier division champions (unbeaten), county cup winners
2003-04 West Riding County Amateur League
premier division champions, county cup winners
2004-05 North West Counties League
division two (promoted)
2005-13 North West Counties League
LEAGUE CUP FINALS
1998-99 won 5-1 v Oxenhope
2000-01 won 4-0 v Lower Hopton
2002-03 won 2-0 v Wibsey
KEIGHLEY CUP FINALS
lost 0-5 to Keighley Phoenix
lost 0-1 to Keighley Phoenix
won 4-2 v Keighley Phoenix
won 1-0 v Steeton
won 4-1 v Keighley Lifts
won 2-0 v Crosshills
won on penalties (2nd XI team)
FIRST KEIGHLEY TEAM EVER TO ENTER:
FA Cup 2004-05, ’05-06, ’06-7, ’07-8,
’08-09, ’09-10, ’10-11, ’11-12, ’12-13, 14-15, 15-16, 16-17
FA Vase 2003-04, ’04-05, ’05-06,
’06-07,’07-08, ’08-09, ’09-10, ’10-11, ’11-12, ’12-13, 14-15, 15-16, 16-17
SILSDEN AFC SUCCESSES
West Riding County Challenge Cup:
2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04 – One of only two teams to win 3 in a row in the
West Riding County Amateur League
Champions: 1971-72, 2002-03, 2003-04;
League Cup 1970-71, 2002-03, 2003-04.
West Yorkshire League Champions: 1975-76.
Keighley and District League Champions:
1908-09, 1914-15, 1939-40, League Cup 1954-55 (reserves).
Airedale and Craven League Champions:
1931-32, League Cup winners 1933-34. Wharfedale League Champions: 1954-55,
Craven & District League Champions:
1963-64, 1998-99; Northern Plant Hire Cup winners: 1996-97, 1998-99.
Keighley Charity Cup winners: 1904-05,
1913-14, 1921-22, 1923-24, 1931-32, 1933-34, 1934-35, 1935-36, 1939-40.
Keighley FA Cup winners: 1933-34,
1937-38, 1939-40, 1951-52, 1955-56, 1964-65, 1970-71, 1971-72, 1973-74,
1974-75, 1975-76, 1976-77, 1977-78, 1984-85, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03,
Craven Morrison Cup winners: 1931-32.
North West Counties Football League –
2004-05 – Promotion to Division One as runners up to Cammell Laird.
Consolidation of league position in
Premier division of the Vodkat League 2005-6, ’06-07, ’07-08, ’08-09, ’09-10,
’10-11, ’11-12, ’12-13.
FA Cup tie away/home to FC Halifax, 2008-09.
Commencement of development of new ground
at Keighley Road, Silsden started in July 2010 and was finished in August 2010.
Recently we were privileged to play host
to Fleetwood Town (2015) which drew in a crowd of over 300 and Bradford City
(2011) in our first pre-season friendly before 1,125 spectators! That league
season saw us get off to a slow start, despite playing the first seven league
games all at HOME! We eventually got a settled side after Christmas and
finished a creditable 12th position, with 57 points and a zero goal difference
We commence this season, 2015-16 in a
transitional period after a very good season last year. We have a lot of
talented young players coming into the squad, and our aims this season are to
finish in the top ten and win a couple of cup games. Last season we finished
10th with 56 points from 40 games. Our best ever!
Season 2015-16 proved to be a season too
far and with the problems we had on and off the field we were relegated to the
North West Counties First Division
Now with the youngest team we have ever
fielded made up of lots of more local players our new manager, but old boy,
James Gill, Gilly, aims to bounce us straight back up into the Premier league.