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The History of SILSDEN AFC

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 1931-32.

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 town.

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 final.


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 final.

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.

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 change!

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.



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 Premier Division



 1998-99 won 5-1 v Oxenhope



 2000-01 won 4-0 v Lower Hopton

 2002-03 won 2-0 v Wibsey


1998-99  lost 0-5 to Keighley Phoenix

1999-00  lost 0-1 to Keighley Phoenix

2000-01  won 4-2 v Keighley Phoenix

2001-02  won 1-0 v Steeton

2002-03  won 4-1 v Keighley Lifts

2003-04  won 2-0 v Crosshills

2005-06  won on penalties (2nd XI team)


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


West Riding County Challenge Cup: 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04 – One of only two teams to win 3 in a row in the cup’s history.

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, 1955-56.

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, 2003-04, 2005-6.

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 (59-59).

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.

Date: Sat 29 Apr Time: 15:00
Silsden 0 vs 3 Cheadle Town
Date: Tue 25 Apr Time: 19:45
Ashton Town 2 vs 3 Silsden
Date: Sat 22 Apr Time: 15:00
Alsager Town 2 vs 1 Silsden
Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Widnes FC 42 96
2 Charnock Richard 42 92
3 Litherland REMYCA 42 89
4 City of Liverpool FC 42 88
5 Whitchurch Alport 42 85
6 Sandbach 42 81
7 Alsager Town 42 74
8 Prestwich Heys 42 69
9 Chadderton 42 67
10 Stockport Town 42 64
11 Silsden 42 62
12 Cheadle Town 42 61
13 St Helens Town 42 56
14 Carlisle City 42 54
15 FC Oswestry 42 53
16 Daisy Hill 42 49
17 Holker Old Boys 42 43
18 Bacup Borough 42 40
19 AFC Blackpool 42 32
20 Atherton LR 42 28
21 Eccleshall 42 18
22 Ashton Town 42 17
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