Nostalgia: Looking back at 80 years of Mirfield Sunday School League

Nostalgia: Mirfield Sunday School League. 'The Verona Fathers team in 1965, which played at Roe Head.
Nostalgia: Mirfield Sunday School League. 'The Verona Fathers team in 1965, which played at Roe Head.

The Mirfield Sunday School League, which later became the Mirfield District Church Football League, started in the 1920s and ran for over 80 years before being wound up in 2003.

At its peak, ten to 12 teams played as part of the league but there were only three at the end.

One of the teams that used to play in it was the Verona Fathers whose home ground was the seminary at Roe Head, which is now Holly Bank House.

Gerry McLaughlin, who was there from 1964 to 67, said: “I remember when I first arrived at Roe Head, accompanied by my mother, being surprised, after the parents left, being told that we weren’t allowed to leave the grounds of the school. It felt a little claustrophobic and hadn’t been mentioned when we were recruited. We were allowed out once every fortnight to visit the swimming baths in Heckmondwike and once every two weeks for a walk around the neighbourhood. Both were supervised.

“However, those that got on the football team got out for away games too, along with some fans. So we looked forward to those trips every second Saturday. I remember teams like Ravensthorpe, St Peter’s, Zion Baptists, Mirfield Parish, Hopton Congregationalists amongst others”.

In their very first year in the league in 1964-65, the Verona Fathers won the league and they took part every year until they closed in 1984 with a dwindling number of boys volunteering for the priesthood. They won the league multiple times and had the advantage of a steady stream of boys arriving from football hotbeds like the Glasgow and Liverpool areas.

Gerry said: “I remember that game when the picture was taken. I was eleven at the time. It was at half time in our second last match of the season. We were well ahead against one of the weaker teams and we would wrap up the league that day. Our biggest rivals then were Zion Baptists who always gave us a tough game. They finished 2nd to us in the league but knocked us out in the semi finals of the Cup which they won.

“Is it really almost 50 years ago? I have great memories of playing football in Mirfield. It was pretty strict in my first two years at the seminary there but I enjoyed playing football for the school team and have many happy memories of that. It was an Italian order and the school strip that we wore was gifted to us by Inter Milan. It was very nice of them but myself and the other Scots boys were still delighted when Celtic beat them 2-1 in the final of the European Cup in 1967.

“If anyone has any old match reports of the games I’d love to see them.”

If you played in the league and want to share you memories, get in touch with Gerry via the Reporter at