A grass roots local football club is chasing more league and cup success just three years into its history.
Hest Bank United FC currently sit second in Division Three of the Westmorland Football League and are in the quarter-finals of the Westmorland FA Senior Challenge Cup.
The club was only established in 2021 but the first two and a half years have been very successful.
They started out in the North Lancashire and District Football League, winning Division Two and gaining promotion in the 2021/22 season as well as lifting the league’s Steve Presnail Printers Whiteside Cup.
They then went on to finish runners up in the First Division, on the same points tally as league winners Castle FC.
After those two years in the NL&DFL, Hest Bank United moved to the Westmorland Football League last summer, joining Division Three, which consists of 11 teams.
They are having a great start to life in the new league, under manager Paul Greenall.
They currently sit second on 23 points, three points behind leaders Kendal County Reserves, however Hest Bank have two games in hand over them.
The team’s record this season in the league is 10 played, seven wins, two draws and one loss.
Club chairman, secretary and player Ben Leamy, one of the people who helped set up the club back in 2021, spoke to Beyond Radio about the season so far.
“I’m delighted by the way the lads have performed this year but the team still have so much potential”, said Ben who, alongside his other roles, has taken charge of the team once or twice this season when Paul has been away.
“We are one of the top scoring teams in the division scoring 38 goals in 10 games and we take pride in having the tightest defence in the league only conceding 16 goals which is testament to our organisation at the back.”
However, Ben says some results this season have been “poor” and there have been games where they “could’ve taken all three points had we taken our chances”.
Despite the positive first half of the season, the team are staying focused.
“We try not to take any notice of the table and take it game by game," said Ben.
“There are multiple teams who are in for a shout of promotion, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but for us to be up there with the games we have played is fantastic and does motivate the lads to keep the good results coming.”
Ben says that transferring to the WFL was never really a risk.
“The league itself is head and shoulders above the previous league competition, the organisation is first class and communication from the league and clubs is what makes the Westmorland League so successful.
“We were always going to lose a few players along the way but credit to the core lads who have been committed all year round and embraced the challenge.”
There have been several standout players for Hest Bank this season.
Ben says starting goalkeeper Nathan Dugdale has “improved massively”.
“His commitment to the cause can’t be faulted, he’s made save after save all season long keeping us in cup ties or saving us from dropping points in the league.”
Every defender at the club has clearly done well this season because of their goals conceded record, but one of the club’s summer recruits has really impressed: Tom Lawton, who joined from Slyne with Hest.
“He’s slotted into central defence seamlessly, striking up a superb partnership with club captain, Sam Edmondson,” said Ben.
Sam Edmondson of Hest Bank United is pictured below. Photo by Steve Miller (@srmillersports)
“Honestly, throw a brick at them and they would head it back! He’s a great defender who will put his body on the line for the team and continues to improve not only himself but others around.”
There has also been a lot of competition in the midfield but two regular starters have consistently kept their place.
“Tom Jolly and Jack Dewhirst compliment each other’s game so well with Jolly being the combative, dogged, in your face midfielder and Dewhirst with the silky footwork and technical ability,” said Ben.
“It’s a joy to watch them be a part of the three in midfield and long may it continue.”
Attacking players Dylan Jackson, Olly Holroyd, Josh Collins and summer signing Jonny Ash have all made positive impacts this season, and Ben praised Ash in particular.
“He works hard on either wing or down the middle and has come into his own in recent games and scored some big goals for us to keep us in cup competitions against higher opposition and important league goals to continue our quest for the Division 3 title.”
Hest Bank have had some memorable results this season to say the least, and that extends beyond their league campaign.
They remain in the Westmorland FA Senior Challenge Cup and are now at the Quarter Final stage.
They beat Division One side Penrith AFC 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw after extra time in the Second Round.
“We dug deep and really made it hard for Penrith”, said Ben.
“After lots of hard work defending, [Jonny] Ash managed to break and grab a goal on the counter attack to put us ahead.
“With minutes to spare Penrith equalised and took us to extra time where we held on, then beat them on penalties thanks to Nathan Dugdale in goal saving the fourth penalty and our lads slotting theirs perfectly.”
They will take on Kendal County’s first team, who play in Division One, away from home on January 20.
Hest Bank received a bye to the quarter final of the Peter Daws Memorial Shield, the draw for which is this Friday.
Ben also says both league results against Alston Moor this season, currently fourth in the table with games in hand, have been highlights.
“The first massive result for us came on the opening day away to, unknown to us then, title challengers Alston Moor.
“A 2-1 victory away there is a massive result as they really make it difficult for you and I believe they won’t lose many points at home.”
Heat Bank beat Alston Moor again in November, this time 4-3, in fairly dramatic style.
“We took a 3-0 lead only for Alston to come out fighting in the second half and bring it back to 3-3.
“Once again we were left with 10 men and Jonny Ash stepped up to seal all three points for the Bank to do the league double over a title rival which could prove to be massive in the run in!”
Tom Lawton of Hest Bank United is pictured below. Photo by Steve Miller (@srmillersports)
Hest Bank United have had a lot of players play for them this season but are always looking for more to join them.
“The club are always looking for new players especially if you have experience playing local football," said Ben.
“We are a great group of lads and you’re more than welcome to drop us a message to pop down to training and give it a go.”
Hest Bank United play Kendal side Ibis FC Reserves in the Westmorland Football League this Saturday (January 13) at 2pm at their home ground, the Bolton le-Sands Community Centre.