Back in November 2003 the East Riding received a further boost to it’s support of the Football Association’s Charter Standards Programme with the news that Westella & Willerby AFC, one of the areas longest standing senior club’s became the areas third FA Community Club, the highest award available to any club, alongside North Ferriby Utd and Hessle Rangers.
Westella were founded as far back as 1920, although further recent reports suggest that there may have been a team playing under the banner as far back as 1910-11. Over many years the club were long term members of the East Riding County League (ERCL), with the 60’s being a particularly successful period with a number league championship and cup successes. After a lean period in the 70’s the early 1980’s saw an influx of new young blood within the club, primarily from Wolfreton Secondary School. A number of those people who came into the club at that time are still actively involved primarily in an off the field capacity, such as current Club Chairman Jez Alcock, Club secretary Rob Lester, and Director of Football Ian Gray.
It was in the period of time over the 80’s and 90’s that Westella despite not winning many trophies developed a reputation for developing young players and giving them an opportunity to develop their careers at a high standard of amateur football, a reputation that still holds true today. Players such as Dean Windass, Linton Brown and Gary Hobson, played some of their early senior football at Westella, and went on to have successful professional careers. A number of Westella’s first team squad today have come through the ranks of boys football into senior team, a progression which all coaches and managers at the club actively encourage.
The club has always been fortunate to have forward thinking people involved with it, and it was back in 1996 that the club identified the need for a regular influx of youngsters to provide a constant stream of talent to move through into senior football – as the first team squad all aged together. To this end the club forgeda working relationship with a well known local boys football club. At the end of each season those members of the boys’ under 16 side who wished to play on a Saturday were offered the opportunity to play for Westella. Most of the boys had already been down for coaching with Westella’s senior squad from the previous January, to get a feel for what our club was about. This alliance, which was believed to have been fairly unique in the area, provided a stream of talent who continued their development under the guidance of the club’s qualified coaches.
The club continued to look at ways of improving it’s development and in 1997 the FA’s “A Charter For Quality” document created by then Technical Director Howard Wilkinson, provided the guiding light leading ultimately down the long road to the Community Club Award. It was at that time that the club created it’s Development Plan – which is still an ongoing working document today – covering the key areas of: YOUTH DEVELOPMENT (Mini soccer, Junior boys, Girls and school / club links), IMPROVED FACILITIES, COACHING DEVELOPMENT, OFF FIELD STRUCTURE and TO BECOME MORE SUCCESSFUL. Over the last 14 or so years progress has been made in each of these areas – all guided by the “Charter for Quality” principle.
In the 2010/11 season the club will field 24 teams – 3 senior men’s (1st – Central Midlands League, Res – Humber Premier League, Jns -East Riding County League), 12 junior boy’s teams (Hull Boys Sunday Football League), 2 girls team (East
Riding Girls League), 1 Women’s team (East Riding County Womens FL) and 6 mini soccer teams. Following the “Charter Standards” ideal the club introduced mini soccer back in 2003 as above and have a thriving academy running within the city, to help develop those in the 6 – 10 year old age category. The club is also a qualified deliverer of the FA’s TOP Sport Football initiative within schools – having delivered 4 week sessions into local Primary schools supporting the work of the schools PE curriculum. The club is currently in the process of forging a robust school-club link programme in line with the Governments – PE, School & Club links policy.
The club’s senior section continues to develop. As long standing members of the East Riding County League the club continues to have representation within the league, but back in 2000 the club became one of the founder members of the Humber Premier league designed to raise the standard of amateur football in the area and bridge the gap between local amateur football and the ‘semi professional’ level of the Northern Counties East League. Over the period of time in the league the club has become a well respected opponent – albeit not quite taking the steps towards major trophy successes. As a club always trying to improve and provide it’s players with further development opportunities the decision was made to move the first team from the HPL into the Central Midlands League (step 7) from the 2008/09 season which moves the club closer to the NCEL. The club will continue to have side in the HPL premier division, and the club’s successful Juniors side (back to back ERCL league titles and an ERCFA Cup success 2006-07) moved up into the ERCL Division 1 from the 2008/09 season.
In 2008/09 the First Team gained promotion from the CMFL Premier Division finishing 2nd behind Louth Town, lost in the final of the CMFL Challenge Cup 2-0 to a strong Sutton Town outfit and lost narrowly on penalties to North Ferriby Utd in the SF of the ERCFA Senior Cup. So all in all the side had a more than adequate season. Last season 2009/10 despite the upheaval of losing their management team and a number of players midway through the campaign the side rallied to finish in a terrific 4th place, and narrowly lost in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup to an all conquering Louth Town outfit on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
The junior boys section has developed tremendously well, and has been a success, with the club fielding teams in the top league (Myton) at most age groups and in some cases fielding two teams in that league. Last season saw a record 3 age group titles, as well as 3 cup successes in the HBSFL, plus success in the HBSFL 5-a-side competition and our U16A team retained the prestigious ERCFA Alf Bolder Cup. Players within the older age groups are encouraged to progress into the senior teams, the usual first step being involvement with the club’s Junior team in the East Riding County League, where they can develop their game alongside more seasoned players who can help, without the pressure of results on them. The next progression is then into the Reserve team and finally into the first team (note: Westella’s first team average age is around 22 years). A number of players now appearing in our senior teams have come through the ranks, all part of the continuum that is actively encouraged within the club.
In terms of improved facilities, alongside the “Charter For Quality” ideal the club quickly bought into the FA’s “National Facilities Plan” which highlighted the need for improved facilities to help develop the players of tomorrow. As an original parks pitch team, Westella looked for somewhere to set up home, and after a couple of attempts were fortunate enough to become part of the set up at the Hill Top facility in Cottingham which is run by the Cottingham Young People’s Sports Foundation (CYPSF) Trust. Despite some trials & tribulations over the past few seasons when the club has been unable to play on the main arena at the facility due to issues with the playing surface – we were fortunate to secure funding alongside another tenant club at the site (Cottingham Tigers RLFC) to the tune of approx £1m to rejuvenate the whole playing arena and build some new changing facilities. Funding was secured via the Football Foundation, Sport England and GemTrust. The work is now complete – the pitch renevation, which provides two new football & rugby pitches saw drainage work take place, and re-seeding which allowed the Club to commence playing on the site from the beginning of the 2008/09 season. The new 6 room changing facility was also completed and used for the first time during the 2008/09 season – ensuring that Hill Top (now named the ‘Roy Waudby Sports Arena’) will be one of the best sporting facilities in the area at a time when a number of football facilities within the city have disappeared.
From a Coaching development point of view the “Charter Standard” principle has rightly driven standards up – the club now boasts a fully qualified coaching set up – ranging from Junior Team Manager and Level 1 award holders, upto Level 3 UEFA “B” award holders. The club has a full coaching equipment set up including a coaching library of books, CD’s and videos available for it’s coaches, and all coaches and managers are encouraged to become members of both FACA and the East Yorkshire Coaches Association.
To achieve the “Community Club” award the club’s off the field structure has had to develop. There is a strong Management Committee set up, but alongside this the club has had to appoint individuals in the fields of: Child Protection, Mini Soccer Development, Volunteer Co-ordinator and Schools Liason Officer. Allied to this the “Community Club” and all FA Charter Standard awards encourage excellence in everything that a club undertakes, and buy in to the important areas of Child Protection, Codes of Conduct, Equal opportunities and Anti-Discrimination.