Santos: history of a club celebrating its first decade with the L&C AFL

SANTOS AFC entered the league in 2008/09 and was in its 11th season with the L&C when the season was ended through Covid-19. Here, club secretary Ian Ward takes us through the club’s inception, as well as its highs and lows during that first decade.

In the late 1980s several friends created a team to enter some five and seven-a-side tournaments.

It was a successful period for the club winning several league titles and cup competitions.

For 2006-07 it was decided to create an open age team, joining the Rochdale Online League.and the name Santos continued for several more seasons in various seven-a-side leagues.

In their second season, the club applied to join the Lancashire & Cheshire League. The application was successful, so we started season 2008-09 in Division 2 whilst our reserve team entered in Division C. It was a tough baptism as the club struggled near the foot of the division for two seasons, before finishing in third place in our third season.

The first team entered Division 1 in season 2011-12 and for the next three seasons spent life at the bottom end of the division. The following season proved to be disastrous for the club. An early season exodus of players resulted in the reserve team squad stepping up several divisions to complete their season.

Unfortunately they were subjected to several heavy defeats ending the season on zero points. The reserve team were removed from their division as a result.

For season 2015-16, the club went through a restructure and it was decided to stay with just the one team.

There was a complete overhaul of the playing squad. A couple of long serving players returned to the club. After a request to drop down the leagues, the club were placed in Division A.

After a mixed season there was a move up to Division 3 where the club spent the next two campaigns, before another move up followed, after a league restructure.

It was back where we started life in Division 2 for 2018-19 season after another disappointing season for the club. Without a win until February, the club had a heartening finish, however it was too late to prevent finishing bottom.

Gaining a reprieve in the latest season, early results meant that a hopefully productive season was a possibility, unfortunately a mid season slump means that at the time the season was ended, Santos were third from bottom.

After several seasons playing home fixtures around the Middleton area, the club has now found its home in Royton – where the club originates from – at a new facility at The Oldham Academy North since 2014.

This is a nice facility with a 3G pitch. Royton Town from the Manchester League are also based at this facility as well.

Santos, has to compete with several local clubs playing in the Manchester Leagues, and also long established Lancashire & Cheshire clubs. The club has a good squad of players, the majority have now been together for the last five seasons and there is a good spirit between them.

Looking towards the future of the club, Santos formed a Junior section.

A soccer school for class Year 1 was formed. It has now progressed through the years, this season the club has reached U15s level.

There are also teams, all playing in the East Manchester Junior Football League, at U7s, U8s, U12s, U13s and U14s level and the Junior section are always on the look-out for new players.

If anybody is interested in getting involved with Santos, contact ward_ian@msn.com.