Signol ready to celebrate 40 years

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.

undefined

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.

undefined

“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. 

undefined

“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.”

undefined

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.

undefined

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.

undefined

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.

undefined

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.

Moston Brook at 50: playing opportunities ‘from cradle to the grave’

L&C AFL caught up with Mike Melia, Chairman of Moston Brook, after the club celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Originally formed in Newton Heath as an old boy’s club, Moston Brook has a rich history of giving game time to people of all ages.

Because of the origins, teams were made up of teachers, former pupils, older pupils, and those of school age who eventually advanced from youth teams to those competing in the L&C.

Though the old school which was responsible for the conveyor belt of players was demolished two decades ago, the burgeoning and vibrant youth setup, comprising of 10 youth teams and a training group, provide ample opportunities for players to go on and compete for one of the four adult teams.

Moston Brook reached its half century in September 2019 and celebrated the occasion a month later with a party that was attended by almost 150 current and former members of the adult teams.

Mike reflected on the enduring legacy of the club. Although its first team is in a relegation battle in Division One this season, Moston Brook has a storied history of success.

The first team is competing in Division One for the third successive season, having finished a respectable sixth last season and as high as fifth in the 2013-14 campaign.

The club tasted championship success in that division in 2008, a golden year for Moston Brook which saw one of the other sides finish top of Division B.

undefined

Moston Brook has also won the Whitehead Cup on two occasions and successfully defended the Hellawell Shield.

But despite this roll-call of honours, Mike’s pride is in the club’s longevity, and the preparation of a production line that means people “could play for life for Moston Brook.”

He said: “From a personal point of view, I am not too bothered about that (honours) and club members might not like me saying it, but it’s a question of keeping people playing football.

“The pleasing aspect really is the longevity of the club and what pleases me most is I go down to training sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. To see the pitch full of kids running around – loads of activity, loads of children and coaches – that pleases me because there are kids enjoying themselves and we are responsible for it.”

Arguably, given the challenges currently facing the amateur game in terms of participation, this is a greater achievement than any honour.

Just this season, the L&C has seen seven teams drop out of its various competitions – some of which have a longer history than Moston Brook.

It highlights how precarious the situation can be.

But Moston Brook cater for players of all ages; sides exist at under-7, under-8, under-9, under-10, under-11, under-12, under-13, and under-14 level, as well as the training group.

undefined

There have been football teams for girls and women, walking football teams, meaning there is an attraction to play, no matter what level you’re at.

undefined

Another innovation that widens the net of talent is the use of one of the four senior teams as a veteran’s team, for players of over 35 years of age, as well as three between the ages of 30-35.

Mike said: “That has attracted players back. Some who played in our first team 12 years ago play for the third team – probably the most successful this season.”

Indeed, the third team have a real chance of putting the icing on the celebration cake by securing a promotion.

Allied to these opportunities is a ferocious work ethic from senior team managers to recruit, youth teams that recruit on the basis of willingness to play the beautiful game, and the “excellent job” of the Treasurer, Charlie MacMillan.

Lifelong friends, Mike and Charlie have played integral roles at Moston Brook since its second year of existence; both are legendary figures at the club for their contributions at all levels of the organisation – a legacy that will endure.

Mike added: “Having four teams isn’t easy, but if I’m looking at why we exist more than others, it’s the fact Charlie does an excellent job and makes life fairly comfortable, with a modest £6 weekly fee for training and the game. “

This ethic, commitment, and openness of adhering to the Moston Brook playing principle of “from the cradle to the grave,” is why its history is enshrined into 50 years, with many chapters yet to write. 

Two teams drop out of L&C AFL

Sad news to report this week, as it’s been confirmed that two of our sides have folded and will no longer participate in the league. For more on this, and further information, please check this week’s update.

  1. All the postponed and delayed fixtures have been re-organised into a new 2nd half of the season fixture schedule starting on the 4th Jan, and released up to 11th January. For all fixture matters contact Malcolm Kershaw fixtures@landc.org.uk.
  2. Unfortunately Swinton and Barr Hill have folded, and their results expunged from the division tables.
  3. For Irlam Tiger please contact Mike Cartwright on 07810517492 instead of Kenneth Cartwright until further notice.
  4. For Hooley Bridge Celtic contact Alec Gill on 07887367160.
  5. The L & C Inter League team played the Lancashire Amateur League on Saturday 21st Dec, 2PM at Hyde United FC, winning 4-3. A report of the 99th meeting of the two leagues has been published and is available at landc.org.uk
  6. I wish all players, club officials, referees and committee members a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Old Stretfordians Proud Defeat

No football team likes to get hammered 12-1 but a defeat of this size is one of the proudest in the 91-year history of Lancashire and Cheshire League stalwarts Old Stretfordians.

The defeat for Old Stretfordians came in 1966 as part of the World Cup preparations for a very useful Bulgaria team.

David Williams set up the game at Manchester University Playing Fields as a practice match for the Bulgarian team against his Old Stretfordians team prior to their opening World Cup fixture against Brazil, who had a certain player called Pele in their ranks.

The undoubted highlight for Old Stretfordians was a stunning goal on three minutes from Frank Hough with a screaming 25-yarder leaving the Bulgarian keeper totally helpless.

But that was the end of the Old Stretfordians glory as Bulgaria went on to score six goals in each half but it is a game that lived for ever in the memory of the fourteen Old Stretfordians players involved in the game and a great feature of the club’s long history in amateur soccer.

Photo – Newspaper cuttings about the match

Great memorabilia for Old Stretfordians

Old Stretfordians – one of L&C AFL’s oldest clubs – have unearthed a piece of club memorabilia belonging to one of English football’s most celebrated and tragic figures: the great Duncan Edwards.

The Flixton Fields-based club, who turned 90 years old this year, have discovered a pair of raffle tickets bought in 1957 to raise money for the club by none other than Edwards.

Edwards was the last of the Busby Babes to perish in the Munich air disaster; the precociously talented 21-year-old’s death is one of the greatest tragedies of English football. Sir Bobby Charlton described the Dudley-born left half as the player who he felt inferior to, such was his footballing ability.

In Busby, the documentary film biopic, Manchester United’s legendary manager said of the Babes, that himself and the coaching team always looked for weaknesses for them to work on, but with Edwards, they could find none.

Because of his untimely death, Edwards has become a mythical figure of English football, an England captain-in-waiting, sadly destined never to be. But this most famous name of the game on these shores is now inextricably linked to Old Strets after club chairman and secretary Malc Kershaw received an unexpected email, resulting in the memorabilia being framed and donated to the club by Martin Haigham of Allegiance Sports Memorabilia Ltd.

It now has pride of place in the Old Strets clubroom.

The raffle tickets were in Duncan’s wallet when he lost his life after the Munich Air Disaster in February 1958, and have been returned to the club by Mrs Gail McCormack, daughter of Duncan’s then-fiancee, Miss Molly Leach.

Molly and Duncan had lived on Gorse Avenue, Stretford at the time, and Molly had brought these tickets with the rest of Duncan’s belongings back from Germany, and had kept them safe for 60 years.

It’s thought that Duncan bought these tickets from a close friend, an Old Strets player named Arthur Warrington.

Arthur and Duncan played tennis every Sunday afternoon, during the summer, at Longford Park.

Several friends from Old Strets would often watch them, including Alan Smith, to whom the club are grateful for the story behind these tickets.

He said: “The email received by Malc read ’My name is Gail McCormack and my Mum’s name was Molly Leach. She was engaged to Duncan Edwards who you will know very sadly died after the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.

“My Mum brought some of Duncan’s possessions back from Munich most of which are going to either Man Utd or are personal and we are keeping. However also amongst the items was his wallet and within that we found five raffle tickets for Old Stretfordians AFC November 1957 Handicap Raffle. They are all in pristine condition and my sister and
myself wondered if you would like them for the club to either auction for funds or keep for prosperity?’”

Malc said: “Since I received the email the club committee and former members decided to set up the memorabilia and we have had great support from so many people in doing this.”

Colin Neeson who wrote the words in the memorabilia concluded: “So with this little piece of our Club’s history we can take heart in knowing, as today we worship and support the greatest players in the world, there was a time when one of the very greatest supported us!”