By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Simon Clifford’s ten-year reign at Garforth Town is officially over.
Earlier today Clifford tweeted: “best wishes to RIASA, Garforth Town and all involved this coming season #timetomoveon.”
Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy will control team affairs at Wheatley Park next season in the NCEL Premier Division – leaving no place for Clifford.
A successful businessman with his Brazilian Soccer Schools, Clifford purchased debt-ridden Garforth in 2003 and leaving aside the problems that Garforth have encountered over the last year, Clifford’s time as owner has been mostly a success.
Two promotions and two West Riding County Cups speak for themselves. And there is also the record league finish that manager Steve Nichol pulled off last year.
But his main legacy is how he put Garforth on the football map.
Ask someone in London if he has heard of any of Garforth’s NCEL rivals, the answer would be probably no.
But, ask them if they have heard of Garforth then they would at least be say: ‘isn’t that where that Brazilian played?’
The 2004 appearance of former Brazil captain Socrates in a NCEL Division One match against Tadcaster Albion is the defining moment of Clifford’s reign.
During a time when newspaper coverage of non-league football locally has plummeted to the levels they were in the 1980s, Clifford got Garforth column inches locally and nationally. And then remember the television coverage.
He got people talking about Garforth and the Miners will probably never have as much interest ever again.