New-look Farsley Celtic approach big kick-off with fresh optimism

Farsley Celtic's Joao Silva celebrates after scoring against York last week. Photo: John McEvoy

By John Baron

It’s been a summer of change for a new-look Farsley Celtic both on and off the pitch.

The Celts have a new management team headed by player coach Clayton Donaldson, Celts legend Danny Ellis and director of football Pav Singh. They took the reigns after former boss Russ Wilcox – who had steered the club away from the relation trap door in a final day escape – quit in May.

This summer saw only five of last season’s squad continue at the Citadel, with The Celts signing striker Donaldson, along with – if my maths is correct – 11 other new signings and three loanees.

Off the pitch the final months of last season saw a number of new appointments to strengthen the board and the club hopes to submit a full planning application for new covered and uncovered artificial pitches for community use in the coming month – a move which could revitalise their finances.

Clayton Donaldson in action for Farsley Celtic against Guiseley. Photo: John McEvoy

Combined with a new home and away kit and a summer which has seen a small band of volunteers tidy the ground, cut back trees and add a splash of colour to the tired main stand, it’s clear to see why there’s a cautious air of optimism at the club.

Even the much-maligned pitch – often cited as the worst in the league by visiting supporters – has received some TLC and in good condition. I’d argue Peterborough Sports was the worst I saw last season.

Pre-season was always going to be a challenge, bedding in so many new players, a management team and new possession-based playing style. Three draws and three defeats didn’t set the world on fire, but there have been signs that the team is gelling and there have been some plus points.

Emerging Talent Squad player Joao Silva in particular has impressed, getting on the scoresheet against Brighouse Town and York City. The Portuguese prospect will now be looking to make his mark in the National League North.

Farsley Celtic’s Tom Allan challenges for the ball with two Guiseley players. Photo: John McEvoy

And signings like Conor Branson, Rudy Misambo and Ryan Watson are likely to play a key part if Farsley are to avoid the final-day scramble to avoid the drop.

Four new signings today – including young goalkeeper Žan-Luk Leban from Premier League club Everton – add much-needed depth to the squad.

Farsley head coach Clayton Donaldson said of the season ahead: “The group is as ready as they can be. All the preparations are just about there, the games have given me the opportunity to see the players and to try a few things out also.

“On a personal note, I’m very excited to take charge of my first competitive league game which will make me so proud. A lot of blood sweat and tears have gone into this.”

With so much change Farsley will be aiming to avoid a slow start to the season.

Farsley are a small village club punching above their weight in National League North. Russ Wilcox and the players worked wonders to keep the cash-strapped club in the league last season and enjoy a club-record FA Trophy tun to the quarter finals.

Time will tell whether the winds of change bode well for The Celts.

The Citadel is the home of Farsley Celtic.

Rushall Olympic preview

Farsley Celtic face newly promoted Rushall Olympic on Saturday on the opening day of the 2023/24 season.

It’s back to business for the Celts as Clayton Donaldson’s new look Farsley make the trip to the West Midlands to take on a side who earned promotion to the National League North for the first time ever after winning the Southern League Premier Division Central playoffs.

It will therefore be a special occasion at Dales Lane, with Rushall looking to mark their first match at this level with all three points.

The Celts most recently faced local rivals Guiseley AFC in their final match of pre-season at Nethermoor Park which finished 1-1 after Ryan Watson’s stunning free-kick was cancelled out by Kallan Murphy’s second half equaliser.

Rushall most recenlty faced Southern League Premier Division Central members Leamington Town in a friendly where they lost out 2-0, however they have still enjoyed a successful pre-season with wins over the likes of Stourbridge, Hednesford Town, West Bromwich Albion XI, Walsall Wood and Birmingham City XI.


Donaldson will be hoping to shake off the knocks he sustained in last Saturday’s bruising friendly at Guiseley. Defenders Lewis Turner and Isaac Assenso remain sidelined.

Head coach Donaldson said: ”In terms of injuries, we have a few that have been out for a couple of weeks but they seem to be recovering well and hopefully they’ll be able to be with the squad sooner rather than later.”


Tickets can either be purchased on the gate for this match, or in advance by clicking here.

All of the important supporter information can be found here.


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