In 1936, at a public meeting chaired by the Mayor of the Borough of Ossett, a former Yorkshire League referee called John Carter was given the task of bringing to Ossett the highest possible standard of football. The new club, to be known as Ossett Town Football Club, played in the Leeds League (later renamed the West Yorkshire League in 1939), played on a pitch behind the Fern House Working Mens Club on Wakefield Road and used various local pubs as headquarters.
During World War II, the team switched to the Heavy Woollen League and had to use a pitch on Back Lane when the army commandeered Fern House. After the war in 1945, Town joined the Yorkshire League and three years later won the West Riding County Senior Cup, beating Salts 4–2 at Bradford City's Valley Parade. In 1950, Town finished 3rd, our best position in the Yorkshire League, scoring a record 120 goals that season.
Attendances at some games were well over 1,000, during the 1940s and 1950s, the Yorkshire League contained the 'A' teams of Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Doncaster and so on, top players learned their trade in these teams, such as John Charles, Denis Law, Ray Wilson, Peter Swan, Tommy Taylor, Jackie Charlton and many others.
In January 1957, Derrick Blackburn was transferred from Ossett Town to Swansea Town for £1,350. This fee enabled Ossett Town to acquire the Ingfield site in the centre of Ossett and the club moved to their new ground in 1959, just after being relegated from Division 1, Town bounced straight back at the first attempt, but were relegated again in 1962.
By 1970, Town were members of the newly formed Division 3. About this time, the long serving player, Frank Lloyd, became manager and he signed up two former Newcastle & Huddersfield strikers, Len White and Jim Kerray. Frank eventually became secretary and was replaced as manager by John Riley. Town were promoted in 1973, but were relegated back to Division 3 in 1975.
Again Town won promotion from Division 3 in 1976, but this time they stayed up and won promotion to Division 1 in 1978. However they were relegated again in 1980. In 1982 Town again won the County Cup beating Bradley Rangers 2–0 at Huddersfield Town's Leeds Road ground in the final season of the Yorkshire League finishing runners up in Division 2. Ossett Town joined the newly formed Northern Counties East League in 1982-83. Initially they played in Division 1 North to 1984, then Division 1 Central for a year before joining Division 2.
raham Firth became Chairman in the mid-1980’s and it was 1987 that really saw the start of the rise in fortunes at Ossett Town. Mickey Bullock was appointed manager and Town won the Division 2 Championship in 1988-89. The following season Town gained promotion to the Premier Division and won the League Cup beating Vase finalists Bridlington Town 1–0 at North Ferriby's ground – Bridlington Town won the FA Vase that season and were managed by our current manager, John Reed.
Under the chairmanship of Graham Firth floodlights were installed, the pitch re-laid, new dressing rooms built and the social club extended as Town prepared to move up the pyramid, also the record attendance of 2,600 was set when Town entertained Manchester United in a pre-season friendly in 1988. The president of Ossett Town, John Carter, died in 1994 at the age of 88. He had performed every role within the club, including chairman, secretary and team manager.
In 1998-99, Town under manager Trevor Best, were unbeaten at Christmas and top of the table, however Best left the club and was replaced by Gary Brook, Town finishing runners up to local rivals Ossett Albion but due to ground grading issues The Unicorn’s were denied promotion meaning, after nine seasons in the Premier Division, Ossett Town gained promotion to the Northern Premier League.
Finishing eighth in the first two seasons in the higher league Town finished runners up in 2001-02 and thought they had gained promotion to the Premier Division, but this time the ground grading rules worked against them and promotion was denied as ground improvement work was twelve hours late. Ossett Town appealed this decision, but the decision was not overturned. That decision was a catalyst for a period of struggles for the club, first a number of key players left the and Town just avoided relegation finishing in 20th place, Gary Brook leaving the club at the end of the season.
In 2003-04, Scott Cooper started the season as manager, but by October Town were bottom of the league and Steve Richards took over as manager, Town finished 14th. However, because of the newly created Conference North Division Town found themselves promoted to the Premier Division – it was supposed to be the top 13 but the demise of Telford United created an additional place. In 2005-06, Ossett Town achieved their best ever performance in the FA Cup, reaching the 4th qualifying round. Town lost 2–3 to Leamington who were drawn away at Colchester United in the 1st Round, losing 9–0. Despite the cup run, Town were in the relegation zone, a few weeks later the manager Steve Richards was replaced by his assistant, Steve Kittrick, results improved considerably and Town eventually finished 11th and a year later 10th.
In 2007-08, after a bright start, Town were surprised in November when manager Steve Kittrick resigned to become Guiseley manager. A number of players left the club and new manager Simon Collins had to endure a miserable run of results as he brought in a lot of new players, including former Huddersfield Town colleagues, Simon Baldry and Chris Billy. Town finished the season in 18th and avoided relegation on goal difference. Despite being clear favorites for the drop in 2008-09 the side finished an impressive 12th place. Manager Si Collins brought in his old Macclesfield Town manager Peter Davenport as an advisor and the results and performances started to improve.
Sadly, the season was overshadowed by the death, on 8 March at the age of 80, of long serving player, manager and secretary Frank Lloyd. The directors room at the ground was renamed The Frank Lloyd Hospitality Suit in his memory, inside there is a photograph of him with the FA Cup taken a few years earlier when it visited Ingfield.
In July 2009, Simon Collins resigned after a dispute with the committee over the size of next season's budget and was replaced by a joint management team made up of reserve team manager Paul Lines and former Bradford Park Avenue reserve team manager, Mick Couzens. The partnership was not harmonious and in October, Couzens resigned after an argument with Lines, who continued as first team manager until the club appointed former Hull City and Wolves player Peter Daniel as manager, Lines reverted to reserve manager.
The appointment was not a success with Peter Daniel resigning in March and Lines was again was re-instated as first team manager until the end of the season. The club finished second from bottom but avoided relegation due to the closure earlier in the season of Newcastle Blue Star and King's Lynn. Phil Sharpe was appointed manager in June 2010. He brought in former Ossett Town player Paul Sykes as assistant. Sharpe used his contacts in local football around Leeds to bring in some youngsters. The season got off to a bright start; but financial difficulties at the club saw some player’s leave and results deteriorated. with the team losing 14 of 16 games from mid-October, leaving the team situated precariously close to the relegation zone.
Phil Sharpe took charge for the 2010-11 season but with a tight budget and under-par performances Town suffered relegation to the Northern Premier League Division One North after only one home win all season. The only relegation the club suffered under the chairmanship of Graham Firth. Town kept faith with Sharpe for the 2011-12 season and added Eric Gilchrist to the dug-out, the ex Ossett Albion manager of many years, as Sharpe’s assistant. Town had many good games in both the cups and the league but there was a lack of consistency overall and league performances were below-par. Sharpe stepped down and he was replaced by his assistant Eric Gilchrist as caretaker manager. Town finished the season in 17th place.
Season 2012-13 saw a new man at the helm with the appointment of Craig Elliott as first team manager. With a number of new players being brought in, it took time to find a settled side and the team finished a credible 12th in the league, ending up the highest placed West Yorkshire team. However, this season will go down as a cup season with the team arguably playing in their biggest game of the club’s history, when we lost away to Stockport County in the FA Trophy. Town also reached the semi-final of the County Cup before going out to FC Halifax Town.
2013-2014 was a momentous season on and off the field, first of all Graham Firth stood down as chairman after 28 years, taking up the Honorary President role at the club. The members voted for the Junior Chairman, James Rogers, to be his replacement. The club also lost some key players to clubs in higher divisions, the biggest been Ryan Qualter who stepped up to the Conference North. An excellent FA Cup run was ended at Colwyn Bay in the third qualifying round and the league form was superb, the club enjoying a run of just three defeats in 23 games at one point. Despite this Craig Elliott decided he could take the club no further just 24 hours before a game in February, stepping down two divisions to a job in the NCEL First Division. Full-back Steven Jeff was asked to take over as caretaker manager which he did admirable, winning four points from two games.
It would have been six but for two penalties conceded in injury time against New Mills! John Reed, assisted by Clive Freeman were the big name replacements to run the side and they guided the club to an impressive eighth place finish. Once again there was a high turnover of players at the club, a number of youngsters joining the side such as Brad Dixon from Leeds United and Nathan Curtis from Bradford City. The on field performances were very inconsistent leading to a 18th place finish in a tough division. The majority of players, a year older and with a lot more experience have re-signed for the 2015-16 season.
Tuesday 2 June 2015 saw the untimely death of honorary President Graham Firth, age 64. He dedicated his life to this football club, taking the mantle from John Carter to bring the highest level of football to the area, something that can be said he did. It is now up to the members of Ossett Town to honor the memory of Graham by continuing the work and progressing this football club as far as possible.
2015-2016 continued to be a transitional period for Ossett Town with no less than three managers required to see safety, eventually comfortably, assured. John Reed left the role in November 2015 and his replacement, Graham Nicholas, was winless in 11 games. Grant Black joined the club, his first managerial role, on Valentines Day 2016 and it proved to be a match made in heaven as the club took more points from then to the end of the season than from August through to his appointment.
Black strengthened the side considerably over the summer and season 2016-17 saw Ossett Town challenge at the top of the league all season, finishing in an impressive 4th place and earning a play-off place. No one expected this from the club, Black creating a team spirit not known at Ingfield for a long time. Town shocked Scarborough Athletic on their own ground in the semi-final with a 3-1 victory for The Reds, that set up a final with Farsley Celtic, who had looked odds on for automatic promotion until we ourselves beat them 2-0. The final proved to be a step too far, despite taking the lead in the 87th minute the home side drew level during seven minutes of time added on, that late goal gave Farsley Celtic the momentum going into Extra Time and they took advantage to win the game.
Black has once again secured the majority of the squad for the new 2017-18 season as The Reds look to prove we are not one season wonders, with support increasing in numbers and noise each week that passes the future is finally looking bright both on and off the pitch here at Ossett Town.