A Tribute to Jim Edmundson

A Tribute to Jim Edmondson

By Keith Marsden

In the 1980’s we were frequently short of referees and so Jim, who was the League’s Referees Secretary, would often call on me to fill in at my club Bedians. The phone would go on Saturday morning, my daughter would answer it and then shout “It’s for you, Dad. It’s that man with the laugh” and I knew it was Jim. A very appropriate description of a lovely man.

His work as Referees Secretary was nothing short of amazing as there was no software to help him, no Internet, no email. He and his wife Margaret used to spend lots of hours on a Sunday assigning referees to matches and then handwriting postcards to all the referees and clubs informing them of the next Saturday’s appointments. His phone line was extremely busy too but there was never anything other than a cheerful answer, no matter what problem he was confronted with. Jim also kept huge ledgers recording the details of all the appointments and the marks awarded to referees for every game. These are now stored with the League’s historical records in Stockport Heritage Library.

Jim was my predecessor as League Chairman and once told me that he would be glad when I took over as he regarded himself as a “backroom boy”. That is a complete understatement and Stoconians know only too well of his immense contribution over so many years. His pots of tea at Hillcrest Road were legendary and he was a regular attendee at the Annual Dinner well into his nineties.  “The man with the laugh” will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Well known by all the current league committee and many club officials, Jim was an outstanding, dedicated servant to both club and league, and his legacy are the many successors following him to keep this wonderful game thriving.

Stoconians Announcement

We have posted this announcement this evening. The details have been made public in the Stockport Express today.

Jim Edmondson – R.I.P.

Stoconians FC are sad to announce the death of our Life President Jim Edmondson who passed away peacefully on 27th September 2020 aged 97.

Jim, affectionally known as “Mr Stoconian” has been involved with the club as a player, Secretary, Chairman, President and our first ever Life President. Jim is renowned for his famous after match cup of tea until his “retirement” at 90 years young.

Jim was involved with the L&C Committee as League President 1975-76, Vice Chairman 1990-95, Chairman 1995-97 and served around 20 seasons as Referee’s Secretary.

Jim’s funeral will be held at St Paul’s Church, Heaton Moor at 2.00pm on 12th October 2020 and is by invitation only. The family have asked for donations in Jim’s memory to The Alzheimer’s Society via https://www.memorygiving.com/jamesedmondson

The club wish to express our condolences to the family.

Rest In Peace Jim

Mark Cavanagh, Chairman, Stoconians FC

New club profile: Sale Amateurs

The reigning champions of the Altrincham & District Amateur Football League (ADAFL) will make their bow in the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL this season.

Sale Amateurs are moving to pastures new in search of a new challenge after this ‘band of brothers’ enjoyed an immensely fruitful time over the last three years in particular, which have yielded league and cup triumphs.

This coincides with the stewardship of Dan Creely, whose reign as secretary has seen significant changes – including the move to the L&C – while also retaining a link to the club’s beginnings.

The passion for the club runs in the family, as Dave Creely, Dan’s Grandfather, set up Sale Amateurs back in 1987. His dad and uncles also appeared for the club, a tradition his involvement has continued.

Now, Dan enjoys the valued support of Mike Gleave, Sale’s manager, and both have input into the team’s on-field fortunes. Sam Nolan is the Chairman and in another link to Sale teams of years gone by, Scott Bowden is the Treasurer and, just as significantly, is one of three players who still turn out for Sale Amateurs and also did so for Dave Creely.

It has been key in fostering what is a “special” bond felt within the squad, evident with the achievements since 2017.

The tide for the club’s on-field fortunes changed after an “epic” night in the Altrincham Senior Cup in 2018.

Dan explains: “I took over in the middle of 2017, and before that it was Sam Nolan, who is one of our Chairmen. Myself and Mike Gleave, the manager, stepped up.

“At first, I agreed to step in and hopefully the club would get a manager. Mike wasn’t keen either, but we took it on and ended up in a cup final which we won on penalties. It was an epic night with hundreds of people watching and we’ve gone from strength to strength since.”

In the semi-final, Sale Amateurs overcame rivals, Jolly Butcher, described by Dan as a “tough, physical side.” Down to 10 men, the club hung on for a 3-2 win, before seeing off Partington on penalties in the final – “a massive night” for the club which brought the first trophy for Sale in quite some time.

Since then, the quality on the pitch has shone through; in 2018/19, Sale Amateurs finished the season third in the league, just six points behind Partington, and with an attack and defence only bettered by the table-toppers.

Before the 2019/20 season was called to a halt, Sale Amateurs were sitting pretty at the top of the league, four points clear with a game in hand. They hadn’t tasted defeat in the league, and possessed its most potent attack and meanest defence.

Cup success was very much anticipated too, with a semi-final appearance booked in, before the pandemic put paid to that.

It paints a picture of a club ready for a move, looking for greater challenges on the pitch. Dan explained: “Since 1987, the club has played in the ADAFL but the league has shrunk and is now one league when it used to have three, so it was something we needed to address.”

Off the pitch too, the club boasts some of the best facilities amateur football could wish for; under Dan’s watchful eye, Sale have moved from their old Manor Avenue playing facilities to Banky Lane at Mersey Valley Sports Club.

Dan added: “They are the best facilities around by a country mile and are at North West Counties standard. There is a seating area next to the pitch and the whole club has a good setup.”

There will be challenges of course, in terms of playing and the extra demands on travelling to fixtures which, Dan concedes, Sale Amateurs “will have to adjust to.”

To help with this transition, player recruitment is important, as is squad depth; Sale Amateurs are struggling with neither. At the time of writing, 28 players had committed to the club, but through word of mouth, and the power of social media, there is a great reach.

Dan said: “What I find is when lads move into the area and want to play football, they find out through social media. I have had lads turn up who have moved from Stoke, two lads who have moved over from Brazil, one from Australia.”

This is underpinned by superb coaching – something the club’s secretary feels they are blessed with – and a core group of players who have a bond that is “special,” and feels like an extended family.

Dan concluded: “We respect each other and we are a band of brothers. It is very much a family.

“One thing I will definitely say, and I find it quite special, is that within this team, from the squad we’ve pulled together for the last three years, there are people that have absolutely no right to know each other but they turn up on Saturday and all of a sudden are the best of mates.

“We have a 44-year-old centre half who played for my Granddad and he’s still an unbelievable player. All the lads love him.

“He shouldn’t be around! But all these lads love each other and the respect they have is unbelievable.”

Stretford Paddock set to make their mark on the L&C

Stretford Paddock are one of the new teams set to enter the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL this coming season, and they most certainly mean business.

The brainchild of Stephen Howson, the club is joining an amateur league but with a setup that screams professionalism, from trials, and coaching, to marketing and production. The name Stretford Paddock is one that Manchester United fans in particular will know about; the fan channel has more than half a million subscribers on YouTube and almost 300,000 followers on Twitter.

The seeds for the formation of Stretford Paddock were sewn last summer when Stephen – chairman and manager of the club – spoke to his friend Ben Adams – the club’s treasurer – about the possibility of involvement within a non-league club.

But rather than go for a pre-existing team, they both decided Stretford Paddock’s brand should be extended to include a team in the amateur leagues.

Stephen explained: “Because we’d started this fan channel, we thought ‘why don’t we get some kits with the fan channel logo on and enter a team as that’, which we did.

“Loads of people were saying they’d buy a shirt, and that we should put an 11-a-side team together.

“A combination of what Ben had put in my head in August and the response to that, made me go for it.”

Before even playing a game – competitive or otherwise – the club have sold more than 1,000 shirts, and on the playing side, the level of anticipation regarding trials saw 1,000 people sign up. These took place on 2 January, and resulted in 30 players being retained.

It is clear though, that the club is not entering to make up the numbers. The initial intake of players had a “lower threshold for acceptance than we will have moving forward,” according to the manager. Not only is the club determined to be competitive, but the vast social media presence means it’s imperative.

He said: “The social media side is great, we have a good following, but it increases the pressure. If we don’t perform, we will know about it. There’s no hiding from it. There’s a lot of pressure on us but everyone knows about it, is expecting it, and is ready for it. We can’t wait to get going.”

It is apparent from the quality of player on show, and the interest in signing for the club, that standards are high. At a time when amateur sides find it difficult to maintain player participation, Stretford Paddock are thriving. At the start of August, there will be another trial.

At the time of writing, almost 250 players have signed up to attend. But, Stephen said: “We are being really strict. We are only looking for players with academy or North West counties experience.

“I’m probably going to invite 100 people off that list to come and trial. We’ll play our first team and reserves in games against them, and measure their abilities from there.

“I’m hoping to pick 25 for the first team and 25 for the reserves from that trial.”

They will be joining a highly competitive group, if training is anything to go by. L&C representatives visited one of the sessions that took place in Droylsden, and it’s a hive of activity. Players travel from Leeds and Liverpool to take part, and the club has even had a request from a footballer in Canada.

Coaches work with players in different pods, with sessions adapted to adhere to social distancing regulations.

Different groups were practicing different finishing drills, with pure finishing, cutbacks, and pass and move all alternated. One participant was Ronaldo Brown, who started off in Liverpool’s academy, and spent time with Oldham Athletic.

It is clear the standards will be high on the pitch, and this translates to everything off the pitch too. Peter Blake, a lifelong follower of non-league football, will be the club’s secretary.

There are currently 28 members of the backroom staff, all of whom volunteer. But almost all the coaches have studied at the University Campus of Football Business. All of them are Level 1 and 2 qualified, and on the way to gaining the UEFA B coaching Licence.

There is a member of the coaching staff with a sports science degree, who deals with strength and conditioning, and a specialist goalkeeping coach is on the staff.

Away from the game, Stretford Paddock also have somebody recording and making videos, as well as a photographer. The official Twitter account has almost 15,000 followers, and there is even a fan club in Norway.

But, despite this creation of content, Stephen stressed it’s a “football first” attitude.

He said: “It’s football first. We’re trying to be overtly professional in what we do because of the content we make. we want to show the work that goes into football at this level, but also give viewers a peek behind the curtain of the professional game.

“We’re getting GPS trackers for our players. Clearly there’s a performance advantage, but there’s also an audience interest. We’ve all seen players wearing them, but what do they do? We’ll show you that, why they’re used, and the data that comes from them.

“That’s what we’re aiming to do. We love football, we love it so much that we’ve created our own team and we want to show the work that goes in, even at this level, and open this side of the game to people.”

Community is key to the underpinning of any success on the field and content off it. Moving forward, the club is committed to becoming part of the community in Stretford and Urmston, and “cementing roots with a junior team, all the way down to under-6 and under-7 teams,” to ensure Stretford Paddock is a “proper community club.”

Stephen said: “That’s where we want to be, but it starts with competing.”

It will certainly be a journey to watch with interest.

Whilst the club are a member of the Lancashire and Cheshire AFL, they will operate purely as an amateur club, all aspects of professionalism are aspirational at this stage. No player will receive payment.

Hadfield Athletic raising cancer awareness

Hadfield Athletic AFC are underlining the vital part football plays as a pillar of the community by running initiatives that highlight cancer awareness, mental health awareness, raising money for the NHS, and helping its local foodbank.

The club, affiliated with the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL since 2016, played the previous four seasons as Hollingworth AFC and enjoyed a league triumph and four cup finals in that time.

But this season saw change as Hadfield Athletic was born, thanks to the efforts of Stuart Whiteman, club Chairman, Secretary and Assistant Manager Alex Boardman, Treasurer Matt Armstrong, and first team coach, James Elliott.

The same group of players who enjoyed success at Hollingworth joined the new venture at Hadfield and before Covid-19 halted the season, the club were red hot favourites to take the Division 2 title in their debut campaign; at the time the season was ended, Hadfield were second in the league, one point behind Dukinfield Athletic AFC who had played five more games. No team had won more or lost fewer, and the club’s goal difference was by far and away the division’s best.

A league and cup double was in the club’s sights.

Yet, although it is bitterly disappointing for the players and management, it almost pales into insignificance when the club’s charitable ventures are considered – very much Hadfield’s most important work.

The colour of the club’s playing shirts this season are bright pink and bright blue. Both were designed specifically to increase awareness of breast cancer and prostate cancer respectively.

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What started as a throwaway remark from the Chairman became something meaningful, and as Stuart said: “I’m sure it has made people more aware. Even the opposition teams we have played have noticed our shirts.”

Such awareness is vital when you consider the official figures. According to Cancer Research UK, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK – it accounted for 15% of new cases in 2017 and in that same year, there were 54,700 new cases recorded. It is the most common form of cancer in females.

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in males, with more than 48,000 new cases recorded in 2017. Between 2005 and 2017, there were more than 130 cases recorded each day on average.

Stuart said: “The kits were my idea because we know a few people who have sadly died of the diseases.”

The initiative has already raised £500 through shirt sales, which will go to a cancer charity, yet to be decided by the committee. And Hadfield are still selling the shirts through their Facebook page. They are priced at £25, complete with any name printed on the back, and the first team will also sign it.

Next season, the club’s charitable endeavours will see players don white shirts to highlight the mental health charity, Mind.

As Stuart said, sport and charity will come hand-in-hand.

“The value is this will be a football club but always with a charity side to it.”

This ethos, and the desire to help others is apparent with the plans to make sure the elderly and vulnerable are part of the sporting community.

This season, the football club established a part venture with Hadfield Cricket Club, sharing clubhouse facilities. There is a neighbouring retirement home and before the season ended, Stuart had planned to give the elderly living there a chance to watch Hadfield Athletic, and spend time with the team afterwards.

This idea was set to become a regular occurrence before the effects of Covid-19 became apparent.

It speaks for the club’s inclusive nature and care for its community that this is set to be a regular event next season. In the process, it will help those who are lonely and give them a regular outing. This is also important for continued good mental health.

Stuart explained: “What we were going to do is take those interested in football to the game. Afterwards, we’d take them back to the local pub, buy them a beer and drop them home, but unfortunately the coronavirus has got in the way.

“It’s something we’ll do next season, offering those who are home alone the chance to join in. It gets them out of the house for a few hours and hopefully gives them something to look forward to.

“it’s an aspect of our values, supporting charities, and making people aware of opportunities, and that they are not alone. There will be somebody out there thinking ‘what am I going to do on Saturday?’ This will be something to look forward to.”

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Fundraising for the local community is a vital part of Hadfield’s work; in the 2019 summer holidays, the club raised £500 to help the local foodbank, Bellies not Bins, stay open during the school holidays. The initiative was led by first team manager, James Elliott, and Stuart Whiteman.

Whilst in lockdown, the club’s players have raised in the region of £400 by shaving their heads, with the money going to the NHS and Hadfield Athletic.

And in the future, the club plans a major fundraising event that will see money donated to the NHS.

The importance of work by frontline NHS workers has never been more apparent, and Hadfield will do their bit by raising money.

Stuart said: “When it is safe to do so, we are going to host a huge fundraiser, invite our football team, all parents, all the cricket lads, and anybody living in the area who wants to come along.

“There will be a bar, barbecue, bouncy castle, face painting, and we’re splitting the money three ways – the football club, cricket club, and the final third will go to the NHS.”

While football comes and goes, the spirit teams like Hadfield create in the areas they serve will endure.

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.

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.

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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.

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“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. 

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“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.”

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.