Friday, October 23, 2009

Football youngsters go solo

Source: This is Staffordshire

FOLLOWING in the footsteps of newly-born sides such as FC United of Manchester and AFC Wimbledon, a group of teenagers in Werrington have kick-started their own football club.

AFC Werrington made its inaugural bow in the North Staffs Junior Youth League under-15s division earlier this season after a group of school friends worked hard during the summer months to create the brand new side.

All 14 members of the squad attend Moorside High School on Cellarhead Road and came up with the idea to start their own football club during the summer break.

Joe Ratcliffe, aged 15, who was elected as captain by his team-mates, said: "It's good being in a team with all your mates.

"We used to watch football on television and were a bit fed up as we wanted to play.

"We have all played in teams before but this is better and we can play with our mates now."

Central midfielder Dylan Peers, aged 14, said: "For a while we were all talking about what it would be like to get a team together with your mates and start playing.

"It's really enjoyable because we know each other really well and you don't mind when your mates tell you what mistakes you are making."

The team's manager Craig Ratcliffe agreed to help run the side after being approached by son Joe.

Craig, aged 33, of Ash Bank Road, said: "It was during the summer holidays and Joe came in and asked me if I would manage a football team if him and his mates set one up.

"I told him I would, but he needed to do things like find a sponsor, get some kit, and find somewhere to play. Thirty minutes later he came back to me and said the sponsor was sorted."

The side haven't enjoyed the best of starts losing all of their first four games – 4-1, 14-1, 4-0 and 6-0.

Craig, a former trainee goalkeeper with both Crewe Alex and Stoke City, added: "I'm enjoying managing them and the lads seem to enjoy playing."

Joint owner of Bucknall-based coach firm Scragg's, Wayne Scragg, shelled out £500 to purchase full kits for the players.

Wayne, aged 40, whose 14-year-old son Thomas plays for the side, said: "I knew they wanted to get a side going so I told them if they could get it all sorted I would pay for it.

"The lads have done well to get it all sorted. It helps they are all from the same community and are friends anyway."

Mark Peers, aged 46, of Ash Bank, has assisted with the running of the side.

Mark, whose son Dylan plays for the team, said: "I think it's been good for the lads as it gives them something to do. All the parents are pitching in to help."

Werrington Parish Council member Nigel Meakin found the side a pitch on Meir Road in the village, along with securing a set of goalposts and organising lines to be painted on the plot.

He said: "We just want the youngsters round here to be enjoying themselves."