L&C AGM to go ahead via video conference

The L&C has confirmed that the pre-planned AGM will still go ahead, but via video link. This latest update also contains important information about the future of cup competitions for 2019/20, as well as important information when planning training or friendlies.

  1. The 2020 AGM was already planned for 4th June, and with uncertainty as to when we will be able to hold any conventional meetings, we will hold the event over video conference.
  2. From a list of potential software to deliver this we have two new shortlisted possibilities : Zoom and Microsoft Teams. It would obviously make sense to use the one which more clubs are familiar with. Could you let me know which you have experienced, if either? Both require software to be downloaded. Another possible solution is the FA Webex system.
  3. The deadline we set for a decision on whether we play the season 19/20 cups to conclusion was set at 31st May for two reasons – teams will need time to prepare, and we would not want to impact on the main family holiday season. Also we think that if any team feel unable to play (when it is deemed safe by government and FA) we would scrap that cup for all. We will defer the decision until the end of this month as we are no clearer now than in March.
  4. Any training or plans for friendlies must be provisional pending FA clearance.
  5. Information has been issued for possible funding streams available – take advantage whilst they are available.

Clubs may qualify for “Small Business Grant”

It has come to our attention that football clubs may be eligible for a water payment holiday or “small business grant.”

If you pay business rates and at the beginning of March were claiming Small Business Rates Relief,  you can apply for a “Small Business Grant” of £10,000.  This is non-refundable and the application is a very simple process. You will need your business rates reference and go on to your local authority website, enter this reference number and the club’s bank details. The Grant is then paid direct.

If your club pays water bills, an application can be made by filling in a short form on the supplier’s website.

Any queries please contact Treasurer Phil Faulkner. His direct mobile is 07957 883165, and email is treasurer@landc.org.uk

Spurley Hey awarded ‘game-changing’ grant

SPURLEY Hey FC have been proud and supportive members of the Lancashire and Cheshire AFL since they joined in 2001 and have fielded up to three open age teams with varying degrees of success over the years.

They are also a very successful junior club and one of their long-term aims has been to develop their own facility at Warth Meadow to a much higher standard.

Their secretary Dave Jameson, who is a Past President of the L&C has a great announcement to make following the successful application for a grant from the Football Foundation.

Dave said: “We are delighted to share the news that Spurley Hey FC have secured a total grant of £20,160 from the Football Foundation for a long-term maintenance programme to improve the pitch facilities at Warth Meadow.

“To secure this investment the club has also committed a total of £10,000 over a ten-year period toward the project.

”This will mean that over the next ten years the club will invest an average spend of £3,000 per year on much-needed pitch improvements at the home of Spurley Hey,”


Club Chairman Lee Preston described the grant as a ‘game-changer’: “The club would like to thank the Football Foundation for its investment into the Warth Meadow investment project, which will breathe a new lease of life into the facility.

“It’s a real reward for the dedicated club volunteers who put in countless hours trying to improve the pitches which at times can be a thankless task.

“This will also help provide a significant improvement to the pitch quality which I know will bring a huge sigh of relief to our teams and coaches who play at Warth Meadow.

“This season’s weather has been one of the worst for many years and for much of the season Warth Meadow has been unplayable, causing a huge frustration for players, parents and coached alike.

“This grant is a real game-changer for the club and sets us on the way to deliver the huge ambitions we have to turn Warth Meadow into a vibrant community football facility for the residents of Stockport. “I would also like to thank the club’s amazing volunteers who have stayed with us through this difficult season and with this investment we can look forward to a brighter future for the club.”

Planning for 2020/21 season underway

With the 2019/2020 season cancelled, the L&C has turned its attention to the 2020/2021 football season and have set out the following guidance for all club secretaries.

We are now ready to receive information from you on your intentions for your club. Anyone leaving should have informed us by 31st March, so if you have not already please let us know now.  If any first teams leave us it is likely to be from the premier division, this will create an uplift throughout all divisions to fill the gaps above.

If the number of teams you wish to run is different to 19-20, let us know.

With the possibility of teams leaving, and four new clubs joining us, it is inevitable there will be restructuring of the divisions, which has become a yearly event.

If you have a request for a particular division, please let us know. We do our best to accommodate requests, however with the general request being downward, it is not always possible to.

L&C outline financial assistance available to clubs

The league management committee is now able, following detailed consideration, to issue further information on the financial assistance we can offer to 2019-20 member clubs. In acknowledgement of clubs’ potential financial difficulties, the Committee have been looking at the best ways to help, which are as fair as possible for all clubs/teams, and are now able to announce the following :-

  • League Fees – to be carried over from Season 19/20 to Season 20/21 – a saving to every club of at least £80, more to those with multi-teams.
  • Cup Fees – if the cup competitions for Season 19/20 complete then no action. If the competitions cannot be  completed, then the cup entry fees will also be rolled over to Season 20/21 with a saving of £28 per team.
  • New clubs entering the League for the first time will be charged all fees as normal.
  • Invoices will be issued at the beginning of August as usual and the appropriate credits as  above will be shown. These will also include any outstanding amounts carried over from Season 19/20 in respect of unpaid fines, and the second half of registrations for Season 19/20. However we are pleased to announce these registrations will be at a one-off discounted rate of £2 per player. 
  • Invoices will be asked to be paid by Sept 30th, but any club with issues meeting this date should contact the treasurer direct at the appropriate time.
  • Of course should any club prefer to pay their registrations in advance of August 2020, then please let the treasurer know and an invoice can be issued.

We trust that everyone will be able to see that the League, being a not-for-profit organisation has made a substantial effort to provide assistance. The savings to clubs detailed above will result in a contribution from the League of approximately £7,500.

We hope that you and your families are keeping well, in what is a very difficult time for everyone.

If there are any queries, please contact Philip Faulkner treasurer@landc.org.uk

Amateur football participation: L&C members taking proactive approach

It almost seems a different world away now, but as recently as February, participation numbers in the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL were causing real concern.

The amateur football league, which has been a vital part of the various communities in the region for more than 110 years, has suffered from declining numbers that have resulted in the reduction in number of leagues and in the 2019/20 season, seven teams have been lost – victims of declining participation.

The coronavirus outbreak has put paid to the league season, which has been declared null and void; wiggle room has been left for the cup competitions to reach a conclusion, though that is of course subject to change.

Over the course of a matter of weeks, the narrative has changed; football has rightly taken a back seat to the much more fundamentally important issue of health.

But the L&C is more than just football; the league provides a sense of community, togetherness and belonging – all of which will be important when amateur football is able to resume.

When that happens, the participation question will remain an important one to answer for the future of competition, but football clubs in the league are working hard to find solutions to the falling numbers.

The current league structure consists of seven divisions – Premier Division down to Third Division, followed by Divisions A, B and C.

As recently as 2013, there were 10 divisions but slowly, these have fallen away; that season, Division F was dissolved, followed by Division E three years later, and finally Division D in 2018.

The falling numbers are highlighted by the fall in the number of teams over the past eight years.

In 2012, there were 117 sides competing in the L&C. Five years on, that number was 90 and now, there are 81.

The voided season has seen seven teams unfortunately drop out – Old Ashtonians, Unicorn, Didsbury, Swinton, and Barr Hill have all folded, whilst Chorltonians and Spurley Hey have each lost a team as the battle for player numbers became too much.

It is undoubtedly a pattern that will cause concern, but the league’s remaining clubs remain defiant, and are responding proactively in order to avoid a similar fate to those teams that have gone before them.

Networking and the power of youth

Milton currently run two teams; half a decade ago, this was three, but they too have fallen victim to the changes in grassroots football participation.

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The club’s secretary, Sam Johnson, has highlighted change in work and life circumstances as key drivers in changing player participation; the 28-year-old said the cohort of players who he has played with have grown up together and provided consistent numbers, but are at the stage where life understandably changes and so do commitments.

He said: “I’m 28 now so you’re getting to the stage where people are getting married, have other commitments, are having children, have weddings. This is combined with lower participation in younger children, late teens, people going to university and not getting into playing football.”

But Milton are working hard as a committee to find solutions to these numbers; a common theme has been tapping into youth set-ups, and partnering with these.

The hope is that, by affiliating with under-18s and junior clubs, Milton can encourage a cohort who have played together for years to come through the ranks at the same time, as playing with friends is a vital pull in the grassroots game.

All those who play key roles in helping the club function understand the power of networking too, reaching out to friends, work colleagues, friends of family, to offer opportunities.

Denton postpone Centenary celebrations

FOOTBALL has been decimated this year because of the Coronavirus. From internationals to grassroots, the impact has been severe and Denton Town are like many of the grassroots teams whose season is left in ruins.

The committee, players and supporters of Denton Town FC are doubly disappointed because this year was their centenary year and plans for this celebration have been put on hold. They had already arranged a large walking football tournament for May 2020 and talks were in progress for an Old Boys match against a Manchester City Old Boys team and a reunion buffet evening for all the ex players.

This season the club are running four teams and had mixed success until the enforced closure. The senior team under managers Phil Cooper and Darren Green reached the final of the Manchester Saturday Challenge Trophy in its first year entering the competition.

The club was formed in 1920 by the Reverend JT Canton (not Cantona!), the rector of Christ Church, Bradford, Manchester. At the time Bradford was a heavily industrialised area of East Manchester.

During their inaugural season of 1920-1921, Bradford Parish played in the Manchester YMCA League and were fortunate enough to be able to call on the services of two Lancashire Schoolboy players, who had also played at England Schoolboy level.

The team with an average age of just 17 became League Champions and Shield Winners in that first year. All their home games were played at the David Lewis Recreation Ground or Donkey Common as it was known. Most playing surfaces in those days were not grass but shale and cuts and scrapes were common due to the harsh surface.

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The following season 1921-1922, saw the club enter the Openshaw and District League. It is a matter of conjecture as to why the club left the Manchester YMCA League but if it was to find sterner competition they still had some way to go.

The team went undefeated in the league, scoring 76 goals for, conceding just 19. The record of cup goals for and against is not known but by winning the cup they were undefeated during the season. Double winners and undefeated, a great achievement in any level of competition.

The Lancashire & Cheshire League, which the club entered in the 1922-1923 season ran two senior divisions, the 1st Division and the A Division, later renamed the 2nd Division. It was in the A Division that Parish started their long association with the league. Parish won the A Division that season finishing with four more points than their nearest rivals, Union Chapel, another church side.

The team also reached the final of the Rhodes Cup, winning the competition, a feat that has been repeated on a further nine occasions by the club.

An incredible 17 coach loads of supporters travelled to Urmston to watch them defeat West Didsbury in the final. Judging by the number of coaches, there must have been around 800 fans supporting their local team.

It was during this season that Parish, for the first time, ran two teams. The church, or was it the football, was attracting more and more youngsters, this prompted the committee to set up another team. The second team was a junior side and was entered into the Manchester YMCA League which they duly won at their first attempt.

So now it was three seasons, four league titles and three cup wins.

Having won the league and cup in their first season in the L&C League, it must have been the committee’s intention to consolidate in the senior division in the 1923-1924 season. They consolidated by doing the double, winning the 1st Division and for the second season running winning the Rhodes Cup, beating Werneth Amateurs in the final.

The 1935-1936 season was a major turning point in the history of Bradford Parish, they were to leave their controversial Cemetery Road ground and move to a new enclosed ground with better facilities and a good quality playing surface, at the Ashton Moss Athletic Ground. This was achieved with all the hard work of the committee and in particular Alf Cook, the secretary.

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Season 1937-1938 saw the Parish side again win the league and cup double and if WW2 had not taken place the club would have faced a promising future with many experienced and good quality up and coming younger players.

The first season after the War saw another change of ground due to bomb damage at the Ashton Moss venue, when Melland Playing Fields in Gorton, Manchester became the club’s new home.

As it turned out, although many of the pre-war side were past their best in playing terms, the side retained the league championship for the first two seasons after the war.

The most memorable night in the club’s history took place in April 1953 at the Accrington Stanley Peel Park Ground where Parish won the coveted Lancashire Amateur Cup with a 3-1 win over Morecambe GSOB.

The mid-1950’s to mid-1960’s was a glorious time for the club with a trophy haul of 22 titles and cups.

By the clubs high standards a barren period followed with only seven trophies won up to the club’s change of name to Denton Town in 1994 and change of ground to Whittles Park in 1995.

The Denton team carried on the winning tradition with a league and cup double in the season 2005-2006, remaining undefeated throughout.

The 2008-2009 season saw a step up in standards when the club were successful in their application to join the Cheshire League. This was a very hard decision for the club to make after being members of the L&C for 86 years.

At this time, three of the club’s committee were also on the league committee (Geoff Gable, Steve Dunn and Jim Brown). A spokesperson said: “We would have liked to have kept or reserve team in the L&C but their rules at the time wouldn’t allow this so we had to leave with all teams.”

In the 2010-2011 season the first team won the Cheshire League Division 2 and were promoted to the 1st Division. The Reserves won the first Cup Final they played in since joining the Cheshire league.

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Now that the L&C have changed their rules this allowed the club to move its Reserves back to join them and they were having a mixed season in Division 3 until the season was prematurely halted. The managers Gary Dixon and Rob Nicholson were having their first experience of open age football having come from running Youth Teams and found the changes interesting to say the least.

Statement from the Lancashire and Cheshire AFL

Following the FA announcement of the 26th March, the management committee have considered the situation and have decided that the league divisional programme 2019-2020 is null and void. There will be no trophies or medals awarded. Furthermore the league presentation dinner which was to be held on 15th May has been cancelled.

We understand there will be concern over finances; with this in mind, do assess your financial position, but do not send to us at this stage. The league committee will meet as soon as the crisis is over and work out a plan to give as much help as possible.

We do have a plan which would allow the League Cup competitions to be completed, if the go ahead to resume football activity is received by the end of May. We are going to discuss the possibility of this with the County FA and will report the outcome.

We hope that you are all safe and well, and look forward to normal life resuming.

A fond look back at a great football venue

THE L&C is now in its 111th season – sadly interrupted – but it gives a chance to look back at some of the highlights etc in its glorious history.

One of the league’s top playing venues for well over 50 years was The Christie Playing Fields in Chorlton on the edge of Princess Road and Barlow Moor Road.

It had, due to superb underlying natural drainage, magnificent pitches probably the best pitches in the league.

Among the clubs from our league who enjoyed playing there for many years from the 1930s to the 1980s were South Manchester, West Didsbury, Rusholme, Mantact and Wythenshawe Amateurs, who all had their own club changing rooms.

West Didsbury stayed there until the 1990s before the fields were taken over to build a business park and residential homes on the beloved soccer site.

West Didsbury moved to their current occupation of Brookburn Road, Chorltonville in 1997 taking over from another historic L&C club East Chorlton who had played there since 1966 and they eventually changed their name to West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC.

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At Brookburn Road the ground was part of the development of Chorltonville in the early 1900s.

The estate, now subject to a conservation order, was to be built for the poor of Hulme with sporting facilities but the finished article did not end up the way the developers intended.

The housing was built in the Arts and Crafts style of William Morris and all properties have distinctive ‘motifs’ on the front gables.

It is the setting of the houses, with grass verges and tree-lined roads which gives Chorltonville its special garden village character.

Isolated from traffic noise it is a quiet area as the roads do not provide an easy through route and it has a resident’s association that was formed to maintain the roads, paths, verges and trees.

However the sports side was provided with tennis courts and the rest of the area occupied by the football pitch which was originally the home of Old Bedians Rugby Club before they moved to Underbank Farm in East Didsbury.

It is great to see that the sporting intention of the original developers has been carried on to this day by the provision of football utilised by the younger generations of the current occupiers of the housing and other people in the area.

After leaving the league in the new millennium, to join the North West Counties FL under the guidance of West legend Rob Turley, who was the L&C President in 2003-4, the club have developed a superb football complex involving the adjoining playing fields on Chorlton Meadows catering for all levels of football, for men, juniors and ladies.

Many of the original committee from the L&C days are still involved in running a very successful and friendly club and have kept up their connections by hosting several cup finals in recent seasons and will continue to do so.

Grassroots football postponed with immediate effect

The FA has confirmed that grassroots football in England has been postponed due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

It comes after the government’s latest update which advises people to avoid social contact and gatherings unless absolutely necessary.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus has increased once again and as such, the health and wellbeing of people is of the utmost priority.

This decision not only includes matches, but training sessions are to cease with immediate effect too.

Until any updates to the contrary, this advice remains the protocol that all clubs must abide by.