The history of football in Emley can be traced back to 1903. Over many decades, the original Emley AFC became the most successful non-league team in Yorkshire.
Success in the Yorkshire League, NCEL and Northern Premier League was matched by historic cup runs with a trip to Wembley in the FA Vase and the run to the FA Cup third round proper, culminating in a trip to Premier League West Ham United in 1998.
That success was followed by an ultimately unsuccessful move to Wakefield to try and push on further and avoid demotion due to new ground grading regulations.
When the original club dropped ‘Emley’ from the club name and disbanded the reserve team – which had continued to play at The Welfare Ground since the move – a new club playing in the village of Emley and in the name of Emley was formed by a group of fans.
AFC Emley was born in 2005 with a single season in the West Yorkshire League before elevation to the Northern Counties East League.
The new Emley really started to create headlines with a run to the 4th round of the FA Vase in 2012-13.
There soon followed two successive ‘oh-so-nearly’ promotion pushes. Firstly, losing out on sudden death penalties in a play-off final in 2016 – a season that included the headline grabbing scoring exploits of Ashley Flynn with 73 goals (it would have been 78 but for the expunging of one team’s record).
Then in 2016-17 the club had an even better season gaining a record 95 points but missing out on promotion on goal difference. Disappointment carried through to an unsuccessful play-off bid.
Following two season of mid-table finishes, the summer of 2019 saw three major developments. The club reclaimed its old name of Emley AFC, a new management team installed that included two members of the West Ham team – Mark Wilson as joint manager and Steve Nicholson as assistant. They will be joined by former Ossett Albion manager Richard Tracey as joint manager.
The third change was an out-of-the-blue lateral movement from the NCEL to NWCFL. Initially a shock, the club decided to embrace the change and spread the Emley story to new grounds in new parts of the country.