On Tuesday 23rd August 2022, Cheshire FA welcomed a variety of special guests to our annual Awards Evening; to celebrate the successes and achievements of some very special members of our grassroots community.
The evening marked the successful 2021-22 Season, with our McDonald’s Grassroots Football Award winners and the Cheshire FA Changing Lives Through Football Winners joining us.
Grassroots Youth Coach of the Year: Wayne Dowling (Princes Villa)
Wayne was nominated by members of his club, Princes Villa Colts and is said to be a very positive leader of his team who encourages the children he coaches to have fun and enjoy their football with a smile on their face. Parents of players within Wayne’s team have spoken of how he has had a positive influence on their behaviour and attitude both at football, but also away from the pitch.
Grassroots Match Official of the Year: Ruby Sykes
Ruby has impressed with her ambition to be the best she can be and grab every opportunity to develop her refereeing skills. Her progression is nothing short of remarkable. At 18 she is about to gain promotion to Level 5 on the Male Pathway.
She started the season operating as an Assistant on the Womens National League - Tier 3 - and has gone on the Referee at that level and also Women's Super League U21 games.
Grassroots Grounds Team of the Year: Ken Monty (Shaftesbury Youth)
Ken was nominated having taken over the role of groundsman in 2017 for his club. He has transformed the grounds with his dedication and passion to make them one of the best on the Wirral. The transformation includes taking over 8 acres of local authority land with one full size operational pitch. There are now 5 pitches of varying sizes, after taking advice from the Regional Pitch Advisor. The quality of pitches prepared is often the subject of compliments from visiting clubs.
Grassroots Club of the Year: Altrincham Juniors FC
Our winners this year have been providing facilities and opportunities for young children to play football since 1971; and provide both boys and girls with a pathway from the age of 4 through to their Senior Teams.
The ethos of the club is one that we are very proud of as a County FA – where the emphasis is on fun & enjoyment - providing football for any children of all ages, regardless of their ability.
Grassroots League of the Year: Chester & Wirral Football League
Across their 13 divisions which includes Open Age, Veterans and Flexi Football, they have provided football for over 2100 players across the region. The League Management Committee have been heavily involved with facility development within the region by sitting on local steering groups and lobbying local authority to improve facilities and venues in the region.
Without incredible volunteers such as the ones involved with this league, the County would not have the impact we do across Cheshire.
Grassroots Volunteer of the Year: Grace Dodd (Cheshire Blades)
Grace is Cheshire Blades Club Secretary, Manager of 4 boys’ teams within the club & has 3 secretarial roles within the league for fixtures, discipline and registrations - all whilst working full time as an apprentice. Grace is described as “the backbone of both club and league” and has played a leading role in organising some fantastic events for teams and clubs within the local area.
Rising Star of the Year: Dougie Ferguson-Davis
This youngster works very hard as his club’s goalkeeper, taking extra coaching almost every night of the week to improve his game. He doesn't let the score affect him, encouraging the team from his box. He gives 100% on everything no matter if that is training, warm up or in a game. He is improving week on week, making some spectacular saves which even the opposition can't believe. He is a great keeper, great captain and great lad.
Grassroots Project of the Year: KGV Project Chester FC (Jim Green)
This particular project has been superb to watch from a distance come to life. This has been led by the CEO of their Community Trust who is described as “a man who is passionate about football and making sure everyone is included in football no matter what”. During lock down, they provided support to local the council and churches delivering food parcels to the vulnerable and also supporting care homes with care packages.
Spirit of Grassroots Football Award: Zac Wilmer (AFC Tima)
Our winner has had a great impact on a lot of people as he openly shares his own personal journey of battling bereavement, anxiety, & depression and that grassroots football involvement can help contribute towards providing peer support for a sustainable recovery.
Brian Fletcher: We want to thank the incredible BRIAN FLETCHER of the Timperley & District Junior Football League. For over 40 years, Brian has supported grassroots football – the incredible amount of dedication and time Brian has put in is testament to his love of the game.
Janice Monty: Janice has led an incredible fundraising initiative to support the creation of a brand new facility for Shaftesbury Youth Club – this has seen the successful application for funding with building due to start very soon. Janice is tireless in her efforts across the club and the impact of a new facility really will be Changing Lives Through Football.
Steve Parker: Crewe FC have showed an incredible and continued commitment to Inclusion at their club. They have recently organised and delivered the Crewe World Cup for the second consecutive year, celebrating the diverse communities and their love of football within the Crewe area. The event was a huge success and this has been spearheaded by Steve. They are always professional in their delivery and want to provide a fantastic experience for everyone involved. Every community needs an ally like Steve.
Liz Clark: Liz is a huge ally around inclusion and continues to do her very best to make sure Sandbach United is as inclusive as it can possibly be.
Liz has been working with Cheshire Buddies which is a local charity that supports young people with disabilities. She has enabled the group to take part in football sessions at the club and delivered football sessions to the group as part of their weekly sessions. In addition to this she has been part of Cheshire FA’s Class of 22 and FOR ALL Officer programmes as well delivering football sessions for CP Utd, Wildcats and Women’s Rec sessions at the club. Liz has been instrumental in promoting the Women’s Euros at the club and getting everyone to support the team. She is an inspiration for all!
Rakers FC: We are delighted to recognise the incredible work a group of volunteers do from a very special club based in Wallasey – and that club, is RAKERS FC.
Not only do they dedicate an immense amount of time offering football for hundreds if not thousands of children across their local area, many of the club’s volunteers support the running of the Wallasey Junior League too.
In addition to this, Rakers have been keen advocated of a strong anti-knife crime campaign and worked with the local police to hold the tournament alongside other partners, which aimed to deter young people from carrying knives and dangerous weapons. A terrific turnout on the night saw local teenagers compete against different teams, including one comprising of officers from Merseyside Police.
This work not only changes lives of those involved in football, it changes lives for a whole community – and we are very proud of you all. Thank you.
Eastham JFL: We are delighted to recognise the incredible work done by the EASTHAM JUNIOR LEAGUE who offer football to thousands of young people every weekend thanks to the dedication of Keith Maylor and his fellow volunteers running the league. Everyone at Cheshire FA will have spoken with Keith down the years and knows how much effort he puts in to running the Eastham Junior League.
Marcus Hawkins: We are very lucky in Cheshire to have so many hundreds of committed referees across the County. But without having someone to organise them and appoint them to games, it would be very difficult.
This was an opportunity to thank MARCUS HAWKINS for his many years of dedicated service to Cheshire FA, having appointed thousands of fixtures in his time as Referee Appointments Officer for the County FA, from Cup Competitions to supporting local districts, leagues and clubs when required, Marcus has done so with such a high level of commitment, we are all very grateful.
Carla Parker, Gary Carr & The Inspire League: We are very lucky in Cheshire to have 25 well-established leagues; all run by volunteers who give up so much time to enable football to go ahead each week. The INSPIRE LEAGUE is no different. Through the tireless work of Carla Parker and Gary Carr, they have built the Inspire League up to be an incredibly inclusive and supportive league that welcomes players of all abilities to play in a safe, fun environment each month.
They have impacted so many lives, and introduced lots of new players to the beautiful game -so much so, the league keeps growing and growing. They do this whilst also having many other hats across grassroots football including club official roles, coaching and refereeing – where do they find the time?!
Mo Huffi: Here at Cheshire FA, we are keen to ensure football is for ALL. Through our inclusion initiatives over the past year, we have been able to support a number of different communities and individuals to ensure they feel welcome to participate in football within Cheshire.
Thanks to the help of MO HUFFI, we have been able to offer advice, guidance and support around the inclusion of Muslim athletes within football in Cheshire. As part of our commitment to bringing to life the recent signing of the Nujum Muslim Athletes Charter, Mo very kindly offered his time to support the creation of a guidance video, that now sits proudly on our website, as a resource to ensure clubs and leagues do all they can to support those of Muslim faith.
Jake Gouldon: Last weekend saw a heroic act of bravery within Cheshire – on the sidelines of a grassroots football occasion at one of our local clubs, Broadheath Central.
If it was not for the quick action and bravery of one individual in this room, a gentleman may well have lost his life.
JAKE GOULDON, who is with us tonight, stepped forward and offered the gentleman CPR – saving the man’s life. The gentleman is currently in hospital.
It is save to say that this is not changing lives through football, it is Saving Lives Through Football. Jake had recently completed the FA Emergency First Aid Course and showed why it is so important that people do take it – because you never know when it may be required
It was an incredible night, and we hope all of our Award Winners enjoyed the experience.
Good luck for the new season.