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.

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!”