Following an exhaustive process of engagement with the football authorities, Emley AFC has been reunited with the rich history and honours from the village club’s past.
Formed in 1903, Emley AFC were perennial champions in the Yorkshire League, its predecessor leagues and associated district cup competitions.
As founder members of the Northern Counties East League they continued to secure silverware on a regular basis. Emley became one of the most well-known names in non-league football in the country as they rose up the football pyramid to play in the Northern Premier League.
The club was firmly on the map after a visit to Wembley in the FA Vase and some headline-grabbing FA Cup runs – most famously to a narrow defeat to Premier League West Ham in the third round in 1998.
After the directors split from the rest of the club and played first team games in Wakefield, a series of name changes meant the name of Emley AFC was at risk of disappearing entirely. AFC Emley were formed in 2005 from the reserves that continued to play in Emley at The Welfare Ground throughout.
After the Wakefield club was wound up, AFC Emley were able to reclaim the Emley AFC name in 2019 which gave fresh impetus to a move to secure the history for the club.
Emley engaged with stakeholders at the Football Association, Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA, Northern Premier League (NPL) and Northern Counties East League (NCEL) who were presented with a dossier of information researched and written by long-term supporter and current committee member Ian Mason.
The Pewits successfully argued that the present club has a better claim to the history of football in Emley than the now defunct Wakefield FC.
It was Wakefield who effectively became a different club in 2005 by renouncing all the attachments they had to the ‘old’ Emley, their headquarters, the village and ground where they played, the colours and the badge and, over time, the name.
Emley AFC Chairman Andrew Painten said: “The history of football in the village can be traced back over a century to 1903 and it’s now rightly ours again.
“While the circumstances of the club’s split to play in Wakefield might be debated for the next century, I’m delighted the football authorities recognised our unique circumstances and agreed the history of football in Emley and the achievements of the club in the past could and should be realigned with the club in the present.
“My thanks to Ian for his work and to the representatives of the organisations we consulted for carefully considering our request.”
As part of the re-alignment, a new website has been created to give supporters more information about the club’s history and famous matches. “The Pewit Papers” started as a regular column in the match day programme and is now accessible to all at history.emleyafc.co.uk
Website editor Ian Mason said: “My family have collected boxes of programmes, photographs and press clippings over the years and it’s fantastic to be able to now have somewhere to share these with a wider audience. We’re adding more content all the time and every new article is a real trip down memory lane.”
Emley AFC currently play in the NCEL Premier Division. A programme of pre-season games has been announced for July with competitive fixtures due to commence on Saturday July 30.