Gargrave AFC


Sport played a large part in village life in the early 1900`s and Gargrave was no exception, boasting football, cricket, rugby and hockey.

Football in the early days was played in a field below Goffa Mill and later in fields above the Anchor Inn, Chapel Meadow and Neville Road before settling on its present position alongside the Leeds to Liverpool Canal off Skipton Road.

Uncertainty in 1952 was resolved when the ground and the adjacent cricket field was purchased in trust for the village “for all time” by the generosity of the Coulthurst trust. In 2005 the long term future of the club became even more secure when the cricket and football club became a charity to be  known as The Gargrave Sports Association. The benefit of a charitable status meant the yearly rents decreased considerably and grant aid would be simpler to obtain for modernising the pavilion.

Early details of the football clubs fortunes are sketchy but playing as Gargrave Town in 1928, to great rejoicing in the village, the team not only won the Craven League but took the Craven cup as well.

The General strike of 1926 and subsequent Cotton strikes culminated in the closure of the Airebank Mill in 1932 and left the village soccerless until friendly games for the un-employed brought about a revival.

First time honours in Craven were followed by entry to the Colne and Nelson league and victory in the Amos Nelson cup but the advent of war then put paid to organised football.

Resuming in 1946-7 and with success in the Craven League and Craven cup, Gargrave rejoined the Colne and Nelson League but within three years they were back in Craven due to a shortage of players.

The strong sides of the 1950`s meant that success was never far away which was in stark contrast to the 1960`s and 70`s when only sheer enthusiasm kept the club afloat. The 1980`s brought a change of fortune and once again success in the Craven League brought the desire for pastures new, this time it was the newly formed East Lancs League which beckoned. Thus the club ran teams both in the Craven League and the East Lancs League. In 1990 the club won the prestigious Craven Cup,the one trophy which had eluded them for twenty three years, not a great final by any means but a 3-2 victory over Rolls Royce meant that one more ambition had been achieved.

Gargrave had to wait until the 1994/95 season before they were able to lift the Craven Challenge Cup again, unfortunately this trophy was to signify the end of the Gargrave “Golden Era” with a mass player and manager exodus to follow.

Local farmer John Thompson took over the managing responsibilities from then manager Mr P Watson and managed to keep the team afloat despite terrible results and a free fall through the divisions of the Craven League.

Wins were very hard to come by from 1996 – 2002, but in the 2003/04 season things started to pick up for Gargrave after the return of some former players who were able to guide the 1st team, still managed by John Thompson to the Craven League Division 1 title and the respective league cup. The newly formed reserve team also enjoyed success, winning the Craven league divison 3 title. The team was managed by spring chicken Luke Boatwright and consisted of a group of teenagers, who were led into battle by veteran campaigner, and team captain Peter Ridding. In the same season, the reserves also made it all the way to the Craven FA Norman Pratt Trophy final, in the end they lost to Ingleton in a reply after the first game was drawn.

Gargrave AFC