As this season’s Morpeth Sunday League comes towards its final stages, there is great concern over its future.
League President Syd Johnson, who has administrated the league over its 53 seasons in addition to being a councillor for the North East Division of the Northumberland FA for 36 years and Vice President of the Northumberland FA for 24 years, is well aware of the current crisis in grassroots football and states that the threat to the Morpeth league is a perfect example of the parlous state of local football, which is also recognised by the FA.
From having four divisions and 44 clubs in 2004, there are only ten clubs left this season. There are several reasons for this state of affairs and most leagues in the county, both Saturday and Sunday orientated, are losing members.
The social side of sport and leisure is changing, sponsorship from local businesses, clubs and public houses is no longer as available as it used to be and the cost of the local authority facilities has increased immensely, although the leagues have worked with them to spread the cost of pitch rental over the season, which has helped.
Morpeth Sunday League has also suffered two body blows this season, with the untimely deaths of long-serving chairman Ken Gray and life member Joe Knox, but the management committee is very determined to continue next season and any club wishing to play will be welcomed and given every assistance. For example, league fees were reduced last year from £100 to £25 and the bond fee was cut from £100 to £50.
For more details, call Mr Johnson on 01670 531224.