ILKLEY Town is making excellent progress through the football leagues.

For the last 20 years, the team has regularly made strides forward and are now competing at the top end of the Premier Division of the West Yorkshire League. This season they are competing for a top four finish in the league and remain in contention for two cup competitions.

Looking back over that 20-year period, the club has had five promotions and won the Wharfedale Cup on three occasions. The emphasis on the quality of the coaching set up underpins their progress.

Manager Simon Armstrong is in his fifth season with the club and has built a squad of players with consistently high quality and the right character. There is a focus on commitment and desire to contribute to a growing club.

At the end of last season, top scorer Lee Spires and captain Danny Bott left the club. The club attracted new players with the quality of their set up and the level of ambition.

The squad has been strengthened in key areas. Toby Harris has taken on role of main striker and is at the top of the league’s scoring charts.

Armstrong was keen to emphasise the work of the coaches across the club that is developing a pathway for players into senior football.

“We have a fantastic group of senior players for both the ladies and men’s sections which includes the first teams, reserve team and under-21s. We’re always looking to improve, not only our personnel but also the way we operate both on and off the pitch. We have a fantastic group of volunteers who put so much time and effort into developing our young players. Ultimately we want to produce a really strong player pathway and a regular stream of players progressing into the senior set up.”

The club isnow looking at making the next step of playing in the North East Counties League alongside the likes of Harrogate Railway, Thackley and Knaresborough Town. The new 4G pitch, which has been a game changer for the club, can be used at that level.

Club chairman Richard Giles said : “We are a community club and that is at the heart of what we are all about. There are 550 people playing football for the club each week from age six to age 56. The girls teams in particular are growing fast. We are very fortunate in having a large number of local businesses that provide sponsorship that is incredibly important. As the quality of football improves we are beginning to attract more people, not just the players but the people behind the scenes.

“Promotion to the next step is a realistic goal for the club. We are on an upward arc.”

On Saturday the first team take on Horsforth St Margaret’s in the semi-final of the Wharfedale Cup. Kick-off is 2pm at Horsforth Community Sports Association.