Emley Football Club’s relocation to Wakefield 14 years ago was certainly controversial and undoubtedly split a previously loyal support base.
But it’s still a shame to hear that the former Huddersfield team, who have had a number of friendlies against Town over the years, will voluntarily leave the Evo-Stik (Northern Premier) League at the end of the season.
Getting there in the first place was just one of a number of amazing achievements which wouldn’t have looked out of place on the pages of Roy of the Rovers.
It started back in the sixties, when as a District League side, Emley reached the last 16 of the old FA Amateur Cup.
A meeting with Barking brought a record 5,134 to the Welfare Ground and kick-started a climb up the non-league ranks.
Having become a leading light in the old Yorkshire League, Emley were founder members of the Northern Counties East League in 1982.
Six years after that, they made it all the way to Wembley in the FA Vase, and in 1989, won promotion to the Northern Premier under the management of Gerry Quinn.
They were in the NPL top flight within two seasons, and in 1991-92, reached the first round of the FA Cup, facing Bolton at Town’s old Leeds Road home.
Town again hosted a tie (against Lincoln) when Ronnie Glavin led Emley to the third round, and a memorable trip to Premier League West Ham, in 1997-98.
And Glavin came agonisingly close to guiding the club, by then Wakefield & Emley, into the Conference, at that time just one division, in 2000-01, their first season after leaving the village.
The club cited ground-grading problems as the reason for a move, initially to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ rugby league ground, which in theory opened up new support and income possibilities.
But it hasn’t worked out that way, and after trying to establish themselves at College Grove, once home of the city’s now defunct rugby union club, there was a ground-share with Ossett Town before a return to the Wildcats’ Belle Vue base in 2012.
With an average home crowd of just 61, money is tight, to say the least.
And it appears rent issues at the rugby league ground, mean another move, possibly to NCEL club Nostell MW, is in the offing.
But Wakefield, who might be relegated in any case, are unable to guarantee they will be at a ground which meets Evo-Stik League criteria.
Ironically, it was the very issue which led to them leaving the Welfare Ground, now used by AFC Emley, who were formed after the original club’s departure and play in the NCEL, which could from next season onwards include Wakefield.
Going in the other direction could be Brighouse Town, who are managed by Gerry Quinn’s son Paul and are bidding for promotion from the NCEL to the Evo-Stik.