A BARNSLEY Sunday League final is due to be played at Oakwell this weekend for the first time in nine years.
The Challenge Cup final between West Bretton and Darfield Cross Keys is set to take place from 12.15pm on Sunday on the first team pitch at Oakwell, with free entry. It is seen as ‘pilot’ event, with a view to all three Sunday League finals returning from next year as was tradition until they were no longer allowed at Oakwell from 2014.
Barnsley chief executive Khaled El-Ahmad said: “We are happy to be host the Sunday League final at Oakwell this year. It is a good opportunity for us to give back to the local community and to celebrate the passion and dedication of Sunday League players. We hope that everyone enjoys the day and that it is a memorable occasion for all involved.”
Roy Parden, the long-serving league secretary who is retiring this summer, said: “It’s a very good step forward.
“It will be nice to get our feet back under the table and hopefully get back to three games at Oakwell next year.
“That’s the dream scenario.
“Most of us started playing Sunday football from watching Barnsley FC and a lot of us are season ticket holders.
“Hopefully having the finals back at Oakwell will encourage more teams and players to get back involved with the league. It will be great to be back.”
The finals were banned from Oakwell after problems with supporters, including flares being set off.
Parden said: “The problems we were having were the same as they were having at Barnsley FC games at that time.
“We know who they were.
“I would be very hopeful we will have no problems at all on Sunday.”
Parden first became involved in the Barnsley Sunday League in 1975.
“We used to have 120 clubs and 60 referees. This season we had 17 teams.
“Referees used to ring me on Friday asking for a fixture, now it is the other way around.
“There are not as many people coming forward now to take roles in the league structure or to run clubs.
“A lot of the focus and funding has gone towards the junior game and the women’s game, both of which have grown a massive amount in the last few decades.
“That’s a good thing of course.
“I still see a bright future for the league.
“The lads who are taking it on are very interested and keen to put new systems in.”
After the Oakwell game, Eastfield Athletic face Worsbrough Common Wanderers in the Supplementary Trophy from 3pm at Athersley Rec on Sunday.
The Hospital Cup final is due to take place on Friday, May 26 at Houghton Main from 6.15pm.