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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Farsley sunshine
By Pete Oliver

Farsley Celtic in action at their Throstle Nest ground
Farsley Celtic in action at their Throstle Nest ground

At last, a ray of sunshine for football in West Yorkshire.

It may come of little consolation to the disgruntled fans of Leeds United and Bradford City, or even the frustrated faithful at Halifax Town.

But Farsley Celtic are celebrating a second successive promotion which has elevated the club - sandwiched in between the cities of Leeds and Bradford - to just one step away from the Football League.

A thrilling play-off final win over Hinckley United means Lee Sinnott's side will, for the first time, be playing Conference National football next season.

"Four years ago we were playing in the Unibond League first division in front of average crowds of 90," Sinnott told BBC Sport.

"If you had said then that four years later we would be in the Conference you would have been certified. That's how far we have progressed."

Sinnott played over 250 games for Bradford in two separate spells at Valley Parade.

We've been an attractive product for the last four years because of the success we've had and this is another step

Lee Sinnott

Now his team is just one rung on the ladder below the Bantams and Leeds are only two divisions better off following their grim fall of grace.

"It's been a bit dark in West Yorkshire. You don't want to see the demise of big clubs in your back yard," Sinnott added.

"We are only six miles from either club and it is hard work for us to be an attractive product.

"But we have to say we've been an attractive product for the last four years because of the success we've had and this is another step."

It is in fact more of a giant stride after Farsley mounted a late dash into the Conference North play-offs and then after beating favourites Kettering Town on penalties scored two late goals to get the better of Hinckley.

The result is a place alongside neighbours Halifax, Oxford United and fellow former League clubs York City, Torquay, Aldershot, Kidderminster, Rushden and Cambridge United at the top table of non-league football.

"I call it the beautiful nightmare, but I wouldn't have it any other way," said Sinnott.

There are many questions that have to be asked and some big decisions to be made

Lee Sinnott

Celtic attracted a crowd of 1,600 to Throstle Nest for their play-off semi-final against Kettering but need to boost an average gate of less than 1,000 to try and increase their income.

On and off the field they must quickly strengthen, although Sinnott is anxious not to disrupt too much of the character of a side that has grown together.

Celtic will stay part-time, with the exception of Sinnott, who joined the club in 2003 after a playing career which also took in defensive service with Walsall, Watford, Crystal Palace, Huddersfield and Oldham.

"I put together a plan in January 2004 and thought it would take six years to get where we are," added the 41-year-old, whose job ranges from coaching and spreading the word in local schools to masterminding the remarkable rise of the first-team.

"To have done it in three-and-a-half years is massively ahead of schedule, but we will take it. It's a wonderful achievement."

If we survive next season that will eclipse what we have done this season

Lee Sinnott

Maintaining the momentum is now the tough target and Sinnott and assistant manager John Deacy will shortly sit down with the club's board to plot the next part of the strategy.

"It's a big challenge. There are many questions that have to be asked and some big decisions to be made," Sinnott said.

"From the road we have travelled it's a big ask. We know that and we need to address quite a few things for the benefit of the squad and the club.

"It could put a strain on us financially and we have to cut our cloth accordingly.

"We have to protect the long-term future of the club. But we know what we are going into and what we have to deal with and we will tackle it in the best interests of Farsley Celtic.

"I'm not being flippant but if we survive next season that will eclipse what we have done this season. And that will take some doing."



SEE ALSO
Sinnott stunned at Celtic revival
15 May 07 |  Non League


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