SPORT LETTER: ‘No solution for decline in grassroots football’

We recently published a case study of the local grassroots scene and showcased some examples of the problems that sides face.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 10th November 2014, 1:39 pm
Grassroots football: fixing the nets
Grassroots football: fixing the nets

The problems experienced by clubs at a local level range from inadequate facilities, a lack of funds and in some cases a dearth of players willing to turn out.

Our article prompted a flurry of feedback from people in the area wanting to express their views on the issue.

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Grassroots football. Blazing Rag v Tideswell. The Rag's changing facilities

Here, High Peak football stalwart Pete Machin gives his opinions on what has caused the national decline and whether there is any solution to the problem.

“The rot had set in long before the Taverners League folded in 2009.

We, on the committee, could see the general running-down of clubs from probably 2005 onwards.

By the time we arrived at 2009, we were left with just six clubs - two of which were from New Mills.

It was at that point that the decision was made, that it would be impractical to try and keep the league going.

The ‘Golden era’ of the Taverners League was arguably between 1990 and 2000, when there was nine teams in two divisions.

Many people have asked me why it all fell apart and I can only give my personal opinion - I don’t expect everyone to agree.

The pivotal reasons for the demise are:

• Poor attitude and unreliability from a generation of players

• Spiralling costs of running a team

• Fewer pubs to finance and support a football team

• Lack of facilities (i.e changing in the back of cars in mid-winter)

• Sky Sports Sunday live football - we have turned into a nation of football viewers, rather than players

• Weekend working schedules

• Family commitments

• The costs of travelling to away games, petrol etc.

Maybe there are more reasons; I’m sure you will have more.

Why would you watch Man United v Liverpool, rather than kick the ball yourself?

According to statistics, 20,000 amateur footballers have ceased to play the game since 2005.

That’s frightening and you do fear for the future of the amateur game.

This is a national problem and there really is no solution.

I myself have briefly tried to generate some interest in resurrecting the Sunday scene, but no-one seems too interested.

You cannot do it without support and a good group around you.

There is a campaign through government to improve the facilities for all grassroots sports, but I can’t see it happening - certainly not in my lifetime.

Back in the day, Sunday morning football was so enjoyable.

You made so many friends (and enemies), but isn’t that what sport is all about?

The only consolation I can think of is that we were there when it was good.

Unfortunately, I cannot see it ever being good again!

I would be interested to hear comments on this - That’s if anyone cares!”

Pete Machin