Driffield NewsSport

Kicking off a new era of football in Driffield

A football club that Driffield can be proud of, that’s at the heart of the community and playing at the highest level the town has ever seen.

That’s the long-term aim of Great Driffield Town AFC, a project that local football officials have been working on for several months and will finally come to fruition when its new senior men’s team play its first games when the 2022/23 season gets underway later this year.

Despite having a strong footballing history and pedigree – particularly with the Driffield & District Football League running for over a century – the Capital of the Wolds has never had one central club playing at a high level of non-league football.

Collectively brought together, there is footballing talent in Driffield that can compete at a higher level. We looked at the rugby, hockey and cricket clubs in Driffield, where there is one central club and the potential of their players is harnessed for the better.

Paul burkinshaw

The demise of Humber Premier League side Driffield Junior Football Club at the start of the current season led to informal discussions taking place about the future of football in the town.

With Humber Premier League One clubs Driffield Evening Institute AFC and Hutton Cranswick SRA onboard, those initial talks have led to the formation of the club, which will operate three teams from its pitches at Allotment Lane.

Although it’s as yet unclear which division Great Driffield Town AFC’s first team will be playing in at the start of next season, the short-term aim is to win the Humber Premier League, before moving further up the football pyramid, perhaps coming up against the likes of North Ferriby, Bridlington Town and Hall Road Rangers.

The club also hopes to provide a pathway for its junior players to move along and hold aspirations to play in the first XI – much in the same way Driffield’s rugby, cricket and hockey clubs work.

Dave Lawson from Driffield EI and Jim Laird, chairman of Driffield JFC will be trustees of the new club Great Driffield Town AFC

The formation of Great Driffield Town AFC means that Driffield Evening Institute AFC will no longer operate senior men’s football teams and the current Hutton Cranswick SRA team will move across to form part of the new club.

EI will continue to run two veterans teams, keeping the name of Driffield’s longest-established in existence.

Those clubs will be represented on the board of trustees by local football stalwarts Dave Lawson and Scott Barron, along with Jim Laird, current chairman of Driffield Junior Football Club.

Paul Burkinshaw, Driffield Junior Football Club secretary and one of the main figures who has made Great Driffield Town AFC become a reality, told the Wolds Weekly that exciting plans for improvement of facilities at Allotment Lane was also one of the major reasons behind the amalgamation.

“The proposal for Great Driffield Town AFC came on the back of the demise of the senior men’s team at Driffield JFC,” he said.

“There was a general feeling that all clubs in the area were offering the same and fighting for the same players and, as a result, we had a team struggling in the Humber Premier League (Driffield JFC), and two teams in Humber Premier League One (Driffield Evening Institute AFC and Hutton Cranswick SRA).

“None of the teams looked like making any progress and it was likely that would continue.

“However, collectively brought together, there is footballing talent in Driffield that can compete at a higher level. We looked at the rugby, hockey and cricket clubs in Driffield, where there is one central club and the potential of their players is harnessed for the better.

“Similar views were expressed by people such as Dave Lawson at Driffield EI and at Hutton Cranswick and things moved forward from there.

“The decision also came on the back of the facilities that are planned at Allotment Lane.

“There are advanced plans for a new clubhouse and changing rooms and significant improvements to the playing surface and the area around the pitch including barriers, dugouts and hard standing”.

Hutton Cranswick SRA FC v Driffield EI

With the facilities upgrade, the name of the club and its first trustees finalised, the focus is now firmly fixed on putting together three competitive teams before the start of the new season.

It’s hoped that players from Driffield EI, Hutton Cranswick SRA and eligible Driffield JFC juniors will become part of the set-up, along with other local footballers impressed with the vision presented by Great Driffield Town AFC.

One of the primary aims of the club is to filter the junior players into the senior ranks, rather than losing them to other teams in the area, as is often currently the case.

And Paul hopes that a strong first team will also attract the attention of the Driffield and Wolds community, giving them a club full of local talent to follow and hopefully witness their success.

“Driffield JFC is a well-established club with facilities at Allotment Lane, governance arrangements as a formally registered charity and a successful junior set-up as well as women’s and girls’ teams but we all see Great Driffield Town as the creation of a new club,” said Paul. “Driffield EI and Hutton Cranswick SRA are recognised by the appointment of Dave Lawson and Scott Barron as trustees, clubs and individuals who deserves lots of respect, to work alongside Jim Laird who has been the driving force behind Driffield JFC for many years.

“The new club will help to provide a bridge between junior and senior football. Currently, all the existing clubs are offering something similar and junior players simply go their different ways.

“Great Driffield Town will offer something different and will go beyond what the town has ever had before – a first class set-up with good facilities, a good pitch, good organisation – and something to aspire to.

“We’re looking at three teams in 2022/23 and it’s important that the first team is competitive in whichever league they play in as it’s pointless having all the good facilities if the team isn’t performing. It all goes hand in hand.

“Now the name and trustees are confirmed, the club will look to establish the men’s teams and appoint management teams for each in the very near future in order that they can begin to plan for the new season.

“Next season, starting in Humber Premier League One would be OK. If that’s where we are, I think the club would be expecting to win it and progress from there.

“We want to provide aspiration for talented local footballers of which there are many to come through from the under 16s and under 18s into a good standard of adult football.

“But the community aspect of the club is also important. We want Driffield to have pride in their football club and provide somewhere that supporters can go, watch a decent game, have a beer and meet people.

“What we are doing has been talked about for many years as being needed but there is a shared belief between everyone involved that now is the right time to do this and that is what we are doing.

“The most important aspect is that this is about building a proper football club, not just a team. Managers and players will come and go, but the club will remain and we’re going to build it.”

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