Long time ends for Kath at Long Lee

The 1998 Long Lee u12s line-up includes current Oxford United captain Jake Wright, back row, second from right, and current Steeton striker Graham Holmes, back, first left.  All pictures are from Kath and Ray Rickaby's personal collection.

The 1998 Long Lee u12s line-up includes current Oxford United captain Jake Wright, back row, second from right, and current Steeton striker Graham Holmes, back, first left.
All pictures are from Kath and Ray Rickaby’s personal collection.

Time for a rest: Kath Rickaby, with husband Ray, is stepping down after 20 years with Long Lee.

Time for a rest: Kath Rickaby, with husband Ray, is stepping down after 20 years with Long Lee.

Past and present footballers who owe a debt of gratitude to Long Lee secretary Kath Rickaby have been quick to pile on the praise after she announced she is stepping down after 20 seasons.
Kath, and her husband Ray have played a huge part in the lives of hundreds of youngsters over the past two decades, enabling them to enjoy the game and, in many cases, go on to greater things.
Silsden u19 co-manager and Leeds United scout ‪Andy Gaughan‬ said: “There are hundreds of young men out there who wouldn’t be involved in football if it wasn’t for Kath and Ray Rickaby.”
Steeton’s Andy King said: “Lots of lads wouldn’t be able to enjoy the game around here without you.

“Not many women get respect in football but I know for sure you’re one who does.”

Indeed, it has been players of both sexes who have been quick to praise the long-serving secretary with Sophie Gaines adding: “Thanks for all the hard working season trying to coach us rowdy bunch. We had some great seasons.”

Future stars: This season's Long Lee u11s.

Future stars: This season’s Long Lee u11s.

Long Lee has provided a virtual conveyor belt of talent for most local senior sides with at least two going on to greater things. Jake Wright is captain at League Two side Oxford United, while Matty Pearson helped FC Halifax Town into the Conference Play-offs after earlier playing League football for Rochdale.
‪Kath has been touched by all the messages she has received and said: ‬”Thanks for all the lovely comments. We’ve always tried to give 100 per cent, whatever we’ve done for the club.”

In her own words, here is Kath’s look back at her time with Long Lee:

Champions: Long Lee u10s won the club's first silverware in 1994.

Champions: Long Lee u10s won the club’s first silverware in 1994.

My first contact with Long Lee Juniors was cooking endless bacon and burgers in a tent at Long Lee School during a tournament.
My husband, Ray, had already been coaching for a few years at Long Lee and, as you do, the wives were roped into help.
I must have made a great impression on the then secretary Chris King, because not long after. he asked me to become treasurer.
I did try to tell him that accounting and maths wasn’t my strong point, but he was having none of it!
Girls' game: The introduction of girls' football at Long Lee proved popular.

Girls’ game: The introduction of girls’ football at Long Lee proved popular.

I’d like to think I did a good job as the bank balance rose, but money was tight and we had to keep a close eye on the spending and account for every penny.
I’m sure some of the coaches back then thought I was barmy when I used to ask for the receipt when they’d bought a new whistle!
When Chris decided to step down, we had to find a new secretary or the club couldn’t run.

We had 18 teams then and that was a lot of children to let down.

My son and nephew were both playing for Long Lee, hubby was coaching so it was a no brainer for me really.
I had always been keen on football. I’d gone to watch Leeds from nine years old and played at school and for the Civil Service women’s team at work so I did know what I was doing or so I thought!

The 1994 u11s line-up.

The 1994 u11s line-up.

I relied heavily on Chris King, Eddie Presland from the Keybury League, Mike Breeze from the Craven League, Peter Allen and the late Jack Holmes from Keighley FA for advice in those first couple of seasons and I can’t thank them enough for all the help they gave me.
I also had a lot of help from Julie Chipchase at West Riding County FA, who was organising the FA’s Effective Clubs’ Courses and female mentoring schemes.

We have always had a great set of managers, coaches, parents and children at Long Lee Juniors and have enjoyed some great successes.

Many kids have gone on to train with professional clubs, namely Jake Wright and currently Matty Pearson enjoying success at AFC Halifax.

Shayman: Current FC Halifax Town star Matty Pearson and his Long Lee u10s colleagues made it into print.

Shayman: Current FC Halifax Town star Matty Pearson and his Long Lee u10s colleagues made it into print.

But we’ve done OK off the pitch too.
We were one of the first clubs in the county to achieve the FA Charter Standard when it was first introduced, and also won the overall county club award.
But it was on the pitch where it mattered for the teams and many throughout my 20 years have won numerous cups, tournaments, league titles and other awards.

I know there is the debate as to whether winning matters, but it DOES matter to the kids in my opinion. But it has to be done in the right way, no ” win at all costs” attitude, and I hope that in my time at Long Lee I’ve tried to instill that message to everyone.

I’ve been very lucky. I haven’t had many bad times over the years but it has to be said that in the early years I did have to stand up for myself on quite a few occasions in a male dominated environment.

A 1997 u7s line-up.

A 1997 u7s line-up.

When girls football was being introduced, myself and Sue Palmer, who had played along side me in the Civil Service team, got together to introduce girls football at Long Lee for the first time.
We enlisted the help of Neil Farley and Michelle Harrison from Keighley Ladies and formed two teams.
We had some great times coaching the girls, but it was completely different from coaching the boys I have to say!.

Again we had some great successes and I’m pleased that a lot of the girls still play open age women’s football today.

Another big step was moving into open age football.
In 2004 the then u17 team approached me to ask if I would consider entering a team into the Craven League so they could continue to play together.

Open age football was a short-lived success but eventually left Kath feeling let down.

Open age football was a short-lived success but eventually left Kath feeling let down.

I approached the league and we were accepted.
Again thanks go to Tina Denham and the committee at the Craven League for helping us get started as open age football was all new to me.
The following season we added a reserve side and again achieved great success with both teams, rising up through the leagues at a fast pace, winning titles and cups along the way.
Long Lee u10s 1997.

Long Lee u10s 1997.

The first team then asked if we could move up a notch into the prestigious West Riding County Amateur League. Looking back now this was a big mistake.
We managed just one season, where we did well and won the League Cup.
But, for whatever reason, players then, close season, drifted off and we had to pull out both open age teams.
This was my biggest disappointment while running the club but I’m still proud to see a lot of the lads playing for teams now such as Steeton and Oxenhope.
Another u7s team from 1997.

Another u7s team from 1997.

But Long Lee have soldiered on, thanks to support from chairman and treasurer Charlie and Angie Wysocki and, while we may not have the number of teams we used to have, we still provide a platform for kids to meet new friends, learn new skills and get some exercise, and I am proud of that legacy.
I’d like to thank every sponsor, manager, coach, assistant, committee member, parent and, most of all, players, too many to mention, who have been involved in Long Lee Juniors over the past 20 years.
This Long Lee team were league champions five seasons running This is the u12s line-up.

This Long Lee team were league champions five seasons running This is the u12s line-up.

A final special mention to my family, Ray, Laura, Liam and Lee, who have also had to contend with the hundreds of phone calls, paperwork scattered around the house, and callers all these years.
Good luck to my successor Sally Sharples Kennedy on taking on the role.

What are your memories of playing for Long Lee? How many of the players can you identify? Email editorial@keighleykicks.co.uk or send a message via the Keighley Kicks Facebook page


Long Lee girls team. Can you name the season?

Long Lee girls team. Can you name the season?


Long Lee u13s, another title-winning line-up. But what was the year?

Long Lee u13s, another title-winning line-up. But what was the year?

One thought on “Long time ends for Kath at Long Lee

  1. Well done Kath. Has been great working with you and you deserve all the special mentions for the tireless work that you have done on a voluntary basis. Not sure how many would be able to do the same not just for Long Lee but for the League as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Whom Do You See?