MEMBERS of a club that has been beset by years of internal feuding were celebrating victory last night after a judge ruled overwhelmingly in their favour.
Blakeborough Social Club in Bradford Road, Brighouse, is now set to reopen within weeks.
And the people who brought the case to court were left facing massive legal bills.
Leeds Chancery Court heard four days of evidence from members of Albion Bowling Club based in Halifax Road, who were furious at attempts by the social club to sell it when faced with major financial difficulties.
Andy Speechley, who led the bowling club faction, claimed the club was being mismanaged and made allegations of fraud and theft leading to a police investigation which found no evidence of wrong doing but said it could be better managed.
The row rumbled on for four years before culminating in this week’s hearing.
Mr Speechley, for the claimants, claimed that there had been incorrect payments of salaries to members, a lack of statutory returns and audited accounts.
But Steven White, counsel for the defendants which included Social Club president Rod Allott and former subscriptions secretary Andy Taylor, denied the claims.
And Recorder Brian Rawlings overwhelmingly ruled in favour of the defendants only allowing a ‘pyrrhic’ victory on the question of whether bowling club members had been correctly excluded.
The case revolved around who was in charge of the management of the club and whether these duties were exercised properly within the spirit of the club’s rules.
Afterwards, Mr Speechley said he was “gutted” by the decision which leaves him and others facing a heavy legal bill totalling tens of thousands of pounds.
He said: “I’m devastated. I’m going to go away and panic.”
But Mr Taylor, who was described as running the club in the manner of a Hitler-like figure by Mr Speechley on the opening day of the hearing, was elated.
He said: “Today at last justice has been done.
“I am proud of all the members who put their names forward to represent Blakeborough Social Club.
“Myself and Rod have been dragged through the courts along with the committee for nearly three years.
“Me and the club have suffered due to these libellous allegations and we are looking to see, what, if any, action can be pursued.
“We now have the difficult task of getting the club reopened and to raise the necessary funds required.
“We have to pay £17,000 in utility bills first and we want to get in touch with Carlsberg Tetley over our debt to them which is considerable.
“But it is possible that we could open within the next three weeks and I certainly hope we will be open before Christmas.”
Thanks to the comprehensive court victory, the way is now clear for those in charge at the social club to finally sell the bowling club, which, bizarrely, has remained open during all the tumultuous times since the trouble started.
The social club which also owns a site in Hove Edge which is leased to Brighouse Football Club, has been running for 26 years.
Its problems stemmed from it being “asset-rich but cash-poor.”