Oakworth have appointed former Silsden player James Gill as their new first-team manager,
Gill, who recovered from a limb-threatening double broken leg to play in the North West Counties League, will take up the post at the ambitious Craven League Division One side immediately.
He played for Silsden as recently as the 2010/11 season and was also involved in the management of the Cobbydalers’ academy side. He was also a member of this season’s promotion-winning Oakworth Bradford Sunday Alliance side.
Club president Ian Woodward said: “We need to integrate the senior sides into the already successful junior set-up.
“Our facilities are superb but at the moment we’re just creating decent players for other teams. When players get to the age to play senior football in the past they’ve moved on to Steeton or Oxenhope and others.
“There were six former Oakworth Juniors in Oxenhope’s Keighley FA Cup-winning team.
“We want to keep those players at this club to help us push up to a higher level.
“We’ve built a conveyor belt of talent but with no long-term benefit for our own club.”
Oakworth were given provisional acceptance to the County Amateur League last year – subject to the pitch-surround fence being extended – but decided against making the move because they did not feel the team was strong enough.
“It’s a Catch 22 situation,” said Ian. “We don’t play at a high enough level to attract top local players but can’t play at a higher level because we don’t have a strong enough team to survive there.
“We’re building from the bottom to make sure we can stop that perpetuating.
“Tom Butcher has taken over the Under 17 team and we will be working with the u18s to feed players into the reserves and the senior structure.
“They will all play a similar system and be integrated gradually to get a seam-free transition from the very youngest lads right the way through to the senior set-up.”
And Gill is at the heart of those plans.
Ian said: “We interviewed three or four people for the job but Gilly’s biggest plus was his contacts in the local area and further afield.
“He’s also a level two coach and has vast footballing knowledge and experience.
“We hope to add a couple of equally experienced right-hand men to his management team.”
That will be repeated at all levels with each of the club’s teams having a manager a two or three right-hand men.
“We worked on a blueprint at our management meeting last night and a senior committee has been formed with representatives from the playing side as well as social and fund-raising members with plenty of wise old heads involved.”
Ian is hopeful the club will attract attention as soon as next season.
“There’s no time scale on getting into a higher league, we’ll see how quickly things progress in the Craven League first,” he said.
“But we want to do well in the Keighley Cup. We’re one of the lowest-level clubs in the competition so we can make people stand up by having a good run. Some of the players Gilly has already mentioned should be joining will really make an impact.”
Ian paid tribute to caretaker manager Scott Turkington, who left the club last week.
“On behalf of the committee of Oakworth Juniors, I want to thank Scott for the hard work he put in,” he said.
“We are grateful for his efforts and, with Stuart Kinnear, how he kept both teams in their respective divisions.”