For those with a masochistic edge to their personality, BT Sport shows live coverage of the GM Vanarama Blue Square National Conference from time to time. BT, of course, are just the latest to try their hand at selling non-league football to the masses. First was L!ve TV, and then it was Sky. In 2006, however, Setanta took it on. And it meant we need not miss a cold January evening trip to Farsley Celtic or an absolute pasting from Aldershot.
Glory days, eh?
Farsley Celtic: Who Are They?
Of course, that long trip up to Farsley Celtic – on a Thursday night, we should add – wasn’t exactly the greatest sporting occasion to grace the airwaves. More on this later. How did we come to be at Throstle Nest, however? When did us and the Villagers come to be on equal terms. Well, it’s a tale that starts back in 1908. And, to start with, you wouldn’t have known about them outside local amateur leagues in Leeds.
In 1926, they joined the West Riding County Amateur League and were there ’til 1940. After, we can see a nine-year gap between them leaving and then popping up in the Yorkshire League Second Division in 1949. You may guess the Second World War Two played a part, but it doesn’t fully explain it. Nonetheless, Farsley reached Div One inside three seasons and spent the next 23 years there – winning the title twice.
The time between 1976 and 1982 ended up being spent mainly in Div Two, but they returned to Div One in ’81 for one last season in the Yorkshire League before it merged with the Midland League to create the Northern Counties East League. Five years on, Farsley Celtic had been promoted into the Premier Division and then onto Northern Premier League Division One. It took until 2004 to earn promotion. Then things started moving fast.
Us And Them…
After promotion to the NPL Premier Division in 2004, came the step up to Conference North in 2006 and then again to the Conference a season later. The rapid rise could have happened a season earlier too, but for some strange goings-on relating to the demise of Spennymoor Town. To nip this one in the bud, Farsley Celtic lost a High Court battle that’d have seen them go up as champions. We feel your pain on that one lads, we really do!
Not that it held them back too long. The 2007-8 Blue Square Premier campaign was easily the highest Farsley Celtic had been in the pyramid up to that point. Under Stimmo, Boro’ had little time for indulging in their fine achievement. Our first meeting came early enough into the season at our gaff; Boro’ romping to a stylish 4-0 win and – in with that – also setting a Conference record in the process. It was our eighth clean sheet in a row.
Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for our eighth clean sheet of the 2017-8 season…
Anyway, the return fixture – and our first trip to Throstle Nest – followed in late January. By then, we’d seen the last of Stimmo and (sadly) had yet to see the last of Peter The Tailor. Quite what made Setanta think this was one for its paying subscribers is still a mystery to us. And the dire 0-0 draw that came out of it robbed the half dozen viewers of two hours they’ll never get back. As it did the 501 in the ground, to be fair.
And Then What?
The Blue Square Premier was, ultimately, a step too far for Farsley Celtic in the end. But it was close. Just two points separated them in 22nd and Altrincham in 21st. Normally, that wouldn’t matter as both would’ve been relegated. The demise of Halifax (in 20th, FWIW), however, spared Alty from the drop. For the Villagers, it was back to Blue Square North and the storm clouds soon started to gather.
Ahead of the 2009-10 campaign, Farsley were booted out of the league due to cash problems. Not known for making it up as they go along, however, the Conference let them back in for the start of term. That change of heart didn’t prove successful; the club expelled once more in March 2010 after going into administration and not completing three fixtures on the spin. And, with that, the curtain came down on the club for good.
Or not? That next season, a new club emerged in the Premier Division of the Northern Counties East League: Farsley AFC. We guess the name was chosen due to an FA rule about using the same name as a defunct club. Anyway, the Villagers won the title with their first attempt and joined Northern Premier League Division One North in 2011. Four years later, the Celtic name was restored and their journey back up the ladder continues.
Setanta? Oh, they went pop in 2009.
Farsley Celtic: Boro’s Record
P2 W1 D1 L0 F5 A0 – League Points: 4, Cup Meetings: 0, Win Rate: 50%
• BoroGuide’s Farsley Celtic club profile – for old time’s sake…