SIGNOL FC is one of Stockport’s top junior and open age clubs and is looking forward to celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2021.
The club is named after its founder Anne Signol, who is a very prominent member of the local community and is known as the Founder and Head Physiotherapist (MACP, MCSP, HCPC, FMHA, MBRAC, KHT) at The Signol Centre – one of the longest established physiotherapy and acupuncture practices in the Stockport area.
Anne has always played an active role in the community and also owns The Signol Community Centre, which has been part of the Romiley community for many years; the building has a lot of history and dates back to 1820.
Anne has always wanted the centre to play an active role within Romiley, and it’s used for many different classes from Art to Zumba.
In her own words Ann describes how Signol football Club was initially started:
“I was a physiotherapist at Stockport Infirmary treating asthmatic children. At the time the procedure was for the children to be treated once a week to aid their breathing and improve the lung capacity.
“Once a week didn’t seem enough, so as I owned the Signol centre gym in Romiley, I got them to go to the gym for half an hour each evening to practice the exercises I had given them including using various equipment to increase their muscle strength and coordination.
“On Saturday they had to show me what they had done so that I could note their progress, one hot June the boys were fed up as the girls were dancing and doing gymnastics so I took them to the park with a football for a kickabout and that was it John Wyatt whose mother Val worked with me said he would train the boys and they could play friendlies.
“The children chose the name Signol Athletic and the team was born in 1980. The problem was we had no equipment. I put a cardboard box in the hall and patients whose children had grown out of their boots donated them, so we had boots.
“A patient of mine manufactured track suits for the league football teams in Pear Tree mill and he said he would donate track suits for the team, as I was working with Malcolm Allison at Manchester City on a project of prevention of injuries and improvement of performance he put a Manchester City down the sleeves, we felt very smart.
“In 1981 Brian Malpas took over the team and in a short while he turned it from a team into Signol Athletic Junior Football Club.
“He developed it into a very successful club with the aid of managers Stuart Kelly, John Brereton, Vic Womack, Tony Whiteside, Phil Norbury, Allan Mellor and his right-hand man Liam Gately.
“In 1990 they won the league title in the Stockport Metro League and in 1990 they also went to Amsterdam on a trip with 30 footballers and eight adults taking part coming back with a winner’s trophy. The team had been to Amsterdam several years before.
“To fund the trips, several events took place, such five-a-side competitions and I raised a lot of money putting on Variety Shows at the Romiley Forum using the children and various sponsored swims.
“Every year in the summer we took the boys for a week’s holiday to the caravan park in Rhyl and together with Jeff Ryan, Marple’s football coach, they organised everything.
“We hired John Evans, a football coach from Wrexham, to train the boys every morning at the Rhyl Sports Centre, and in the afternoons they played five-a-side with a grand final on Friday afternoon.
“For several years we held Sportsmen’s dinners at Quaffers, Bredbury with Guest Speakers Tommy Docherty, Bill Foulkes, Paddy Crerand, Denis Law and comedian Ivor Davies .
“Brian Malpas was chairman from 1981 to 1998 and then Dave Parsonage took over and he and his team have done a marvellous job.
“I can’t thank them enough I am so proud of you all, it’s an amazing achievement and to see Danny Bowden who joined the club at four managing the open age team and the boys who are now working Stockport Schools teaching football skills to the pupils – it’s very special to me and I thank you all. “Here’s to a party in 2021 when Signol Athletic will be 40!“
Signol official Gill Bowden takes over the Signol story: “The club has grown considerably from those early days described by Anne, now providing teams from under 7s to open age. The club allows boys and girls in the area to play football and be coached in a caring, safe and respectful environment, whatever their ability, gender or race.”
“In 2009 the club only provided for teams up to Under 16s and at that point Gordon Bowden, then the manager of the Under 16s team spoke to the club and requested that the team be able to enter into the Stockport Metro Under 17/18’s league for the 2010/11 Season. The following year Gordon requested that he take the team to play in an Open Age League, the club agreed that an open age team could be formed if the team was run separately to the junior club.
“Gordon had run the team for the prior 11 years and his son Daniel had played for Signol since he was four years old.
“Daniel was refereeing in the Lancashire and Cheshire League and Gordon usually watched his games, he was impressed with the standard of teams and organisation of the League and as he had played in the league many years before he approached the League in 2011 with a request to enter his team. “The Lancashire and Cheshire League accepted the team and placed them in division three and after six years the team reached the Premier Division, with a reserve team in Division A and a third team in Division B run by Daniel Bowden who at this point had stopped refereeing due to injury.
“Unfortunately, the Premiership seemed a step too far and after just one season the first team folded, the remaining two teams continued for a further year in their respective divisions and then went their separate ways.
“Daniel’s team continued and some of the original first team players returned, and Signol Old Boys was created run by both Daniel and Gordon with the League placing them in Division One for season 2019-20.
“Signol Athletic were placed in Division Three where they have enjoyed a great season until the lockdown.
“They have lost just one league game and are well clear in second place in the table behind Chadderton Cott and I will be delighted if they secure promotion to keep up the proud tradition of our club.
“Anne Signol is a wonderful lady who never asks for any thanks. The football club is a very small part of what she has provided to the community over the years, she has raised funds for a great many children’s charities by writing books and putting on Pantomime performances.
“Thank you for this legacy, Anne, from everyone you have touched over the years.”