New competition off to a thrilling start

THE L & C AFL resumed competitive action in the revised cup competitions on a day marked by tribute to Prince Philip and enduring four seasons of weather on a memorable day.

The snow showers caused the postponement of some games, while others enjoyed wall-to-wall sunshine and superb playing surfaces.

Rhodes Cup holders Salford Vics began their defence of the trophy with a tough group game at South Manchester and the pre-match tribute to Prince Philip saw the Rhodes Cup paraded by league chairman Mike Yates.

The game was a real thriller between two excellent teams and South went ahead through Nathan O’Hara and it was a terrific end-to-end game after that with South edging it 3-2 with strikes from Cassius Clay and club legend Tufail Baloch to put them in the driving seat in their group.

The other game played in the group saw Urmston Town JFC beat Dukinfield Athletic 3-1.

In Group B there were three decisive victories for Rochdalians by 5-2 over Newton, Dom Doyle by 4-2 over Irlam Tigers and Bury Ams by 3-0 over Trafford United to set up some vital games in the week to come.

In Group A Abacus Media took the lead with a thundering 20-yarder from Jack Aubrey but recent cup winners High Lane came back strongly to win 3-1.

The other two games ended at 2-2 between Stretford Paddock and Manchester Polonia and North Walkden and Signol OB.

In the final group Moston Brook showed why they are top of Division One with a clinical 3-0 win over Premier side AFC Oldham, De la Salle repeated this by toppling Lancashire Cup finalists Milton 2-1 and Didsbury won a thriller with Hadfield by the same score.

The Wray Cup features teams from Divisions Two and Three.

In Group C Aldermere from division three pulled off a 2-1 local derby win over Division Two high-flyers Old Stretfordians. Shaw Athletic had few problems in a 7-0 win over Hooley Bridge Celtic and Woodhouses had early strikes from Michael Shepherd (two) and Dom Abrahams to thank for sending them on the way to a comfortable 3-1 win over Santos.

Bedians and South Manchester reserves battled out a 3-3 thriller with Reece Horan and Chris Lynch supplying the South strikes backed by some fine goalkeeping from Jerome Tait.

Joe Mensah and a penalty from Kayy Jayy kept Bedians in touch and they grabbed a deserved point with a last-minute rocket from Chris Heywood.

Wythenshawe Wanderers were always in control against Stoconians with a first-half brace from Michael Sherrington setting them off to a 4-2 victory.

Action in Group B saw Signol Athletic JFC score the only goal of their game with Elton Lib Hargreaves and Salford Vics reserves and Village Manchester shared four goals.

Sale Ams showed their intent with a dominant 4-1 win over Didsbury reserves

Just one result in Group D with Mellor reserves and Stretford Paddock reserves locked at 3-3.

The Whitehead Cup sees teams from Divisions A and B in action and there were plenty of goals led by Flixton JFC in Group A with a 7-0 cruise over Chadderton Park.

Deans eased to a 5-1 win over Bury Ams reserves and AFC Stockport also went nap beating Trafford United reserves 5-2.

Just two games in Group B with Mellor thirds losing 2-1 to Chadderton Cott, a scoreline matched by Parrs Wood Celtic at Spurley Hey. 

In Group C Heaton Mersey also had their shooting boots on as they won 5-3 at Old Strets reserves and Irlam Tiger Rangers won 3-1 hosting Moston Brook thirds. The group was completed by Salford Albion winning 2-1 at Aldermere reserves.

In Group D Hillgate led the way with a 4-1 victory over Milton reserves and Kartel were also hot in a 5-3 win at Salford Storm and AFC Oldham reserves kept an immaculate clean sheet beating Moston Brook thirds 2-0.

Finally in Divisions C and D, the battle commenced for the Hellawell Shield and the top score of 7-0 was posted by Greater Manchester FC against Stoconians fourths in Group D, with the other new boys FC Bury Aces also winning 3-1 over Staly Lions.

In Group A Shaw Athletic reserves beat Stoconians thirds 4-2 and Irlam Tigers thirds beat Deans reserves 3-1

There were close encounters in group B with Bury Ams third winning 2-1 over Govan Athletic and Salford Storm reserves emerged with a breathless 4-3 victory at Moston Brook fourths. There was a rare goalless draw in Group C between Altrincham Hale and Urmston Town Vale, Whalley Range enjoyed a 2-1 win over Spurley Hey reserves and Radclyffe reserves completed a busy day with a 4-1 victory at Village Manchester reserves.

Exciting return to action

IT proved to be a great return to action in the eight divisions of the L & C as great work by the management committee and clubs saw a full day of action in a rescheduled league programme.

With the season seeing an end to divisional competitions the revised programme saw most of the league’s team enjoying getting back into action with no points at stake but just a good friendly preparation for the planned exciting end to the season with the four revised cup competitions scheduled to start next weekend with plenty of frantic action on the pitch.

It also gave clubs the chance to hone their administrative skills in preparation for the games to come.

The day was blessed with sunny weather, and pitches in excellent condition and the players responded with a real goal fest throughout the divisions.

L & C chairman Mike Yates, who along with other committee members, was able to visit several grounds during a busy day said: “It was great to see the joy come back with so many people delighted to be back in action with big smiles on their faces.

“It certainly augers well for terrific cup action over the next few weeks and my congratulations go the clubs and their players for putting on a superb show in their approach to the game we all love.”

In the Premier Division South Manchester were the hotshots with a big 8-4 win at High Lane and Rhodes Cup holders Salford Vics enjoyed an efficient 3-1 win over Irlam Tigers, a score matched by Milton at Radclyffe.

The other games saw Abacus Media and Dom Doyle both win 4-3 against Manchester Polonia and AFC Oldham.

There were some close contests in Division One with the top game seeing Didsbury and Stretford Paddock battle out a great contest with a late strike from Paddock easing them home 2-1.

Dukinfield Athletic scored the only goal of their game at Urmston Town and Hadfield Athletic kept an immaculate clean sheet in a 2-0 win at Bury Ams.

Signol OB and Newton shared four goals and it was also close as Trafford United beat table-topping Moston Brook 3-2 with North Walkden winning by the same margin in their local derby at De La Salle Reds.

In Division Two Stoconians cruised to a 5-1 win over Salford Vics reserves and Chadderton Cott won 3-1 at Chadderton Park. League leaders Old Stretfordians lost a close contest by 2-2 to Signol JFC and a super team goal sealed a 3-2 win for Parrs Wood Celtic at Bedians and South Manchester reserves made it a good day for the club beating Shaw Athletic 2-1.

There was fine game at Village Manchester as they entertained Hattersley in Division Three

Dionyoion Klaoudatos and Matthew Hodgson (two) netted for Village before the break with Declann Ince replying for Hattersley who made it 3-2 early in the second half.

Then Village upped their game with a penalty and a clinical finish but were indebted to their keeper for a string of good saves to preserve their lead.

Aldermere were on fire at Didsbury reserves with James Greyson, Jono Greyson, Joe Murphy and Callum Blades on target in a 6-0 cruise.

Abacus Media reserves were too hot to handle as they won 7-2 at Hooley Bridge Celtic.

Plenty of drama at Wythenshawe Wanderers as they beat Woodhouses JFC 6-5, Sale Amateurs shared six goals with Stoconians reserves and Stretford Paddock reserves and Elton Lib Hargreaves were deadlocked at 1-1.

In Division A Irlam Tigers Rangers led the way with a comfortable 6-0  win over AFC Oldham reserves.

Salford Albion beat Moston Brook reserves 3-2, Dukinfield Ams reserves triumphed 3-1 over Bury Ams reserves, Hillgate won 2-0 at Chadderton Cott reserves and Flixton Juniors enjoyed a close 3-2 win over Spurley Hey. The only goalless game of the day was between Aldermere reserves and Heaton Mersey.

Goals galore in Division C led by Radclyffe reserves with a double-figure haul against Stoconians thirds and Altrincham Hale with a nap-hand against Bury Ams thirds.

Salford Storm had a comfortable 4-1 win over Staly Lions , a score matched by AFC Stockport Warriors at Govan Athletic and Village Manchester reserves were 3-1 victors at Oldham Vics reserves.

Closer in Division D with Irlam Tigers winning 3-1 against Whalley Range while Urmston Town had to work hard for a 1-0 win at Spurley Hey reserves and Rochdale Galaxy shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw with Shaw Athletic reserves.

L & C Diversity Inclusion Group

The L & C Diversity and Inclusion Committee member Rob Brown would like clubs to nominate representatives to take part in an open discussion about inclusivity and diversity. It is felt the key people are the football managers and assistants who have the most influence on the playing squads and changing room environment, however all nominees are welcome.

The diversity group’s brief would be to :

1.            Set up the introductory meeting in April – date to be confirmed

2.            The membership should include 5 member clubs and 3 L & C committee members

3.            We would meet 3 times a year or on an adhoc basis

4.            The group will consider the most high profile issues in accordance with diversity and inclusion for grass roots football

5.            Explore issues that would help our league to be as inclusive as possible and make suggestions to the L & C committee as to how it can develop or make           changes to be as inclusive as possible.

6.            The group would also be a sounding board for the league and be prepared to consider issues as they arise and advise accordingly.

7.            The group would be prepared to accept and take part in development  and be as knowledgeable on current issues as possible.

If you have already expressed an interest, please confirm to Rob, as several months have passed since we first started communicating about this matter.

First match day cup fixtures now available

This week’s L & C update provides details on where to find the first match day of cup fixtures for when the restructured fixture list resumes next month.

  1. Reminder – tomorrow 29th March 7PM there will be a General Meeting via Zoom (invites sent yesterday), which clubs must attend to hear all the arrangements.
  2. Moston Brook 4th Team are looking for an away friendly, next Saturday 3rd April. Contact Mike Melia- 07837 251346
  3. Fixtures arranged for every team on the 3rd April are to be used as a warm up so teams don’t go into the cups on 10th April without having played. All normal procedures such as confirmation, referee payment by BACs, completion of result texts, match sheets, team stats and refs marks are to be followed.
  4. The Cup fixtures, Match day one on the 10th April through to the end if the group stage on 8th May are now visible on Full Time.
  5. The Cup squads from multi-team clubs can be sent in as soon as you are ready, and are required at the latest by next Sunday 4th April. Please send to me,  Keith Marsden, John Howard and Gill Bowden please.
  6. Rob O’Connor of Bedians has kindly offered a set of football nets in good condition if any club needs them. If anyone wants them all they have to do is collect them, contact Rob O’Connor 07738 195124.

Let the action begin

AFTER months for frustration and lack of playing action there was plenty of hard work done by the L & C management committee, given great support by clubs, to prepare for an exciting new programme once the lockdown on grassroots soccer was lifted.

The league designed a divisional cup competition to finish the season giving all of the 90-plus teams the chance to play at least five games followed by quarter-finals for the top two teams in each group followed by semi-finals and finals for the Rhodes Cup, Wray Cup, Whitehead Cup and Hellawell Shield.

The competition will begin on April 10 and will be looking to avoid midweek matches.

All clubs were also given the chance to take part in a full programme of friendly matches by the league on April 3 to get them back into action and be aware of Covid restrictions and administrative requirements for the upcoming cup competitions.

Some clubs have had to seek out new grounds to play on due to Covid problems with their existing facilities and the league are delighted with some of the temporary venues they have been able to secure.

L & C Referees Secretary Stephen Howard has been busy also and he is pleased to announce that he has a surplus of officials for all of the upcoming games.

The draw for the cups sees teams from the Premier and Division One in four groups of six teams each aiming to reach the final of the Rhodes Cup at Hyde United at the end of May.

The draw gives some of the ambitious teams in division one the chance to show their talent against Premier division teams.

One group sees Rhodes Cup holders Salford Vics and 100 per cent Premier division leaders Mellor lined up with South Manchester and Urmston Town.

Division One leaders Moston Brook will enjoy a local derby with high-flying Premier side AFC Oldham as well as tough games with Lancashire Amateur Cup finalists Milton, Hadfield Athletic and De la Salle.

Rochdalians are another L & C powerhouse and among their opponents are Dom Doyle, Newton, Bury Ams and Irlam Tiger.

The fourth group has recent Rhodes Cup winners High Lane in a tough group containing ambitious new boys Stretford Paddock, Signol OB, North Walkden, Abacus Media and Manchester Polonia.

Teams from Division Two and Three are competing for the Wray Cup and in one of the groups there will be an exciting local derby as division two leaders Old Stretfordians take on Aldermere.

The Whitehead Cup has teams from Divisions A and B in action with new team Kartel taking on Salford Storm and Hillgate in their fixtures.

Finally the Hellawell Shield has teams from Divisions C and D in action with one of the groups just having five clubs, including new boys Greater Manchester FC who will take on Stoconians fourths, FC Bury, Stlay Lions and Didsbury thirds.

The group includes Division C leaders AFC Stockport Warriors and Division D top team Irlam Tigers A.
So plenty of thrills and spills to look forward to in a very exciting end to the truncated season.

General Meeting, Cup and friendly fixtures, and info ahead of restart

This week’s update includes confirmation that fixtures have been arranged. For this and more information, please see below.

  1. Fixtures for every team on the 3rd April are released, some clubs did not want a match that day, so those have been moved. If you still want a game after your opponent declined, contact Malcolm Kershaw They are to be used as a warm up so teams don’t go into the cups on 10th April without having played. Referees will be appointed as normal by the referee’s secretary. All normal procedures such as confirmation, referee payment by BACs, completion of result texts, match sheets, team stats and refs marks are to be followed.
  2. The cup draw was made at the committee meeting, issued on the 17th March and Match day one on the 10th April has been released.
  3. The cup rules and competition format were issued on the 6th March. Note the deadline for registration has been brought forward to the end of February (rule 4) and squad eligibility is in rule 5. Squads are required from multi-team clubs and can be sent in as soon as you are ready. Any queries on registrations to Keith Marsden please.
  4. The preparation for the return continues – Important date for your diaries – 29th March 7PM there will be a General Meeting via Zoom, which clubs must attend to hear all the arrangements.

New plan in place to finish the season

NOW that the Government has laid down its road map grass roots football has been able to plan the conclusion to another very disrupted season caused by Covid 19.

The Lancashire & Cheshire League management committee has been doing plenty of work in looking at various options and decided to void the current league season in their eight divisions mainly due to the differences in fixtures completed by the teams.

The plan now is to run the four league cup competitions, originally in a divisional format, to give all of the teams the chance to play at least five fixtures followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and cup finals.

The Rhodes Cup, currently held by Salford Victoria, will be competed for by teams in the Premier and Division One in four groups of six teams, playing each other once with the top two teams in each group progressing to quarter finals.

The Wray Cup, currently held by Radclyffe FC, will feature teams in Division Two and Three in the same format and the Whitehead Cup, held by Chadderton Cott is for teams in Division A and B.

Finally the Hellawell Shield, held by Irlam Tigers Rangers, will see teams from Division C and D in competition.

The draw will soon be made and fixtures secretary Malc Kershaw will then plan the schedule which will begin on April 10 with quarter-finals planned for May 15.

The league will provide linesmen for the quarter finals and as usual the semi-finals and finals will be on neutral grounds with officials provided by the league.

Malc Kershaw said: “We will look for the group matches to be played on Saturdays, avoiding midweek games where possible and there will be some adjustments where teams share pitches.

“Referees secretary Stephen Howard is confident that he has enough officials to cover the busy programme and hopefully we will not be affected by bad weather and more Covid restrictions as we look to provide an exciting and competitive end to another very difficult and frustrating season.”

The clubs will all be given detailed information of the draw, rules etc for the planned programme as soon as possible giving them the opportunity to play some friendly games in preparation for the cup competitions.

Warm-up fixtures announced in preparation for forthcoming cup competitions

Now that we have confirmed our plans for a streamlined cup competition programme that will run in the absence of the possibility to complete a full league programme, the L & C has announced warm-up fixtures in preparation for the competitive fixtures. More information on this, as well as other updates, can be found below.

  1. League fixtures for every team on the 3rd April have been released. They are league games to be used as a warm up so teams don’t go into the cups on 10th April without having played. We have saved everyone a job arranging friendlies. Referees will be appointed as normal by the referee’s secretary. All normal procedures such as confirmation, referee payment by BACs, completion of result texts, match sheets, team stats and refs marks are to be followed. The games are voluntary, so if for any reason you do not want a match that day, contact Malcolm Kershaw
  2. The deadline for ensuring all match sheets, team stats, refs marks and payments are in is Thursday 11th March. After that the cup draw will be made with those who have complied included.
  3. The preparation for the resumption of football continues, the cup rules and competition format were issued yesterday. Note the deadline for registration has been brought forward to the end of February (rule 4) and squad eligibility is in rule 5. Any queries on registrations to Keith Marsden please.

Lancashire & Cheshire AFL return to football

Since the announcement of the Government roadmap out of lockdown, and the resumption of team sports from 29th March, the league committee have been working on assessing the options available. The FA extension to the 30th June gives three months to conclude the 20-21 season.

Following the committee assessment, we are recommending to the clubs our plan – the league divisional season is curtailed now (null and void as we are nowhere near the point where Points per game is viable). The L & C roadmap for conclusion of the season has been sent to every club and shows the government’s timetable, the committee’s decision-making to this point, and how we plan to ensure competitive football for all clubs.

Despite the league season being curtailed, the positive aspect of this is that it allows the four league cups to run in an amended format of group matches followed by quarter and semi-finals, and the final. This plan would give all teams at least five games, and take up to the end of May to complete. Full details will be made available soon.

The reality is that the remaining 682 league fixtures will not fit into three months due to ground constraints and would involve a punishing Sat/Wed/Sat schedule for the whole of the 3 months, and include some Monday matches for some teams. We all are involved to enjoy our football, this would not be enjoyable, and it would most likely fail. We should not start what we cannot finish.

The reasoning for this decision has been sent to every club; in our preparation, we ran provisional trials to see how we could fulfil all league fixtures. This proved that it would be impossible even if there were no further disruptions.

A combination of the risks that remain because of Covid-19, the punishing – and unrealistic – schedule required to fit in all fixtures, player availability due to work, family, religious commitments, as well as pitch availability, is why the L & C have decided to move forward with a more slimline, and manageable competition format to ensure the season reaches a conclusion.

If any club disagrees, or has any questions, please let us know.

All match sheets, team stats, refs marks and payments MUST BE COMPLETED BY THE 11TH MARCH to be entered into the cup draw, unless you need County FA to fix user ID problems and are in communication with us about this.

Spurley Hey suffer “devastating” pitch damage

Spurley Hey FC, one of the most respected and successful football clubs in the Greater Manchester area, have suffered ‘devastating’ damage to their playing surfaces.

The club, founded in 1968, are a vital part of their community, and provide leisure activity in the form of 18 teams made up of two adult teams – part of the L & C AFL, two girls teams, and 14 boys teams throughout different age groups.

Yet the action of mindless individuals have jeopardised the playing surfaces, caused by a quad bike and small motocross bike.

Unfortunately, this is not the first instance of damage, according to Spurley Hey President, Dave Jameson, who said: “Over the years, we have suffered a lot of damage by bikers to our pitches and we recently had fly tippers blocking the approach to the ground.

“We have spent a lot of money putting up barriers around the site and this has limited the damage.

“We are currently in receipt of an FA Improvement Grant this season and with the aid of this grant and from club funds, we have spent in the region of £10,000 in an attempt to improve the playing surfaces.

“So it was devastating to see extensive damage done to the playing surfaces by people driving to our ground and loading bikes and quad bikes over the barriers to drive on the pitches.

“The damage was caused by two children – one on a quad bike and the other on a small motocross bike – and they were accompanied and helped by four adults.”

One of Spurley’s managers caught the perpetrators of this vandalism in the act but was “met with verbal abuse.” The club have sought out assistance from the Police, who are now dealing with the matter.

Dave said it is disappointing for all those who pour their heart and soul into their local community facilities, and he urged other facilities in the area to keep a watchful eye out to avoid similar issues.

“I know that other clubs in the league and various sports clubs in the area have been subject to damage to their facilities and it is very disappointing to see the hard work of so many volunteers treated in this thoughtless manner.

“I would advise all sports facilities to keep a constant check on their grounds to avoid the devastation and disappointment we have suffered.”

Mike Yates, Chairman of the L & C AFL, added: “Spurley Hey are a long-established club in our league and have a really hard-working committee of volunteers who give up their spare time to provide football for the local community.

“What is particularly alarming with this vandalism is that parents were helping the children with their bikes.

“Let’s hope they are caught and suitable financial penalties are administered as a deterrent, and the funds are given to Spurley Hey for repair work.”