MORPETH’S junior football club has made great strides over the last couple of years as it aims to get increasing numbers of young people involved in the game.
Officials have made decent progress since the merger of Morpeth Town Juniors and FC Morpeth in 2009 and there are currently about 340 players across 23 different teams.
And moves are under way to make Morpeth Sporting Club’s provision even better, although some of the projects are dependent on the support of the county council and other organisations.
In the previous 12 months, it has invested in new equipment, such as appropriate sized goalposts for certain teams, and it regained its Charter Standard status from the FA.
Successful teams include the U9 Wildcats, which went unbeaten to win the Pin Point Recruitment Northumberland Mini Soccer League U9s Serie A title, and the U11 Girls squad, which won eight matches and drew four to lift the Northumberland Girls U11s Championship.
The U12 Galaxy team got off to a slow start in their league, but the confidence gained from an excellent cup run – including a 4-1 home win over Ryton & Crawcrook Albion – saw the team gain confidence.
Further victories over eventual champions Red House Farm and Wideopen saw the team clinch second place and promotion on the final day.
More volunteers are coming on board and three welfare officers have recently been appointed – Anne Henderson, Jill Palmer and Louise Gourley.
Morpeth Sporting Club Chairman Gary Munday said: “The merger has been the best thing that has happened to junior football in Morpeth, as pooling our resources gave the town one identity for the youth game.
“We have continued to grow since then and we have invested money and a lot of time to make sure our coaches and volunteers are fully trained.
“We’re delighted with the success of some of our teams this season, but our mission statement is about providing football for all children so we’re even more pleased that we’re now approaching 350 players.
“I’m extremely proud of our three girls’ teams. They have all done very well this season and their rate of development has been amazing.
“It’s also good to see teams carrying on to U17 and U18 levels.
“I’ve finished coaching a particular team this season and this will allow me to be more hands on with more teams and managers next season and I’ll be available more to parents and children. We now have a stronger support network with the new welfare officers.
“There is a link to an online coaching guide on our website – with a range of drills covering all age groups – and we also have a Level Two coach (John Boynton) in place who is not attached to a particular team. He is available to give advice to our managers and take a few training sessions as a fresh face to our squads.
“We have an excellent relationship with The Three Rivers Learning Trust (academy). The schools are doing all they can to improve their sporting facilities.
“Some of our teams play on the pitches at Pegswood Welfare and we’re extremely grateful to the parish council for its support. The facilities at the new pavilion are excellent.”
The club is looking for potential venues for indoor training as the Riverside Leisure Centre is over-subscribed. It does have access to the rubberised indoor surface at Netherton Park for the time being.
Officials are calling on the county council to improve changing-room facilities, particularly at Morpeth Common, and some of the football pitches it maintains.
Mr Munday added: “I’m optimistic about the future of the club as we continue to raise our profile in the town.
“Hopefully, we can get the support we need to have everything in place to develop our junior footballers.”
The club is looking for a volunteer to take on the role of secretary. This person will be its official contact with the FA and league officials and an important link between managers and players.
Full training, expenses and support will be provided. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The club’s AGM will take place on Sunday, June 2, in Shambles Bar, Bridge Street, from 7pm.
A presentation day for ages 12 and under is being held on Sunday, June 30, from 10am at the Riverside Lodge in High Stanners.
• Morpeth Sporting Club is launching its Morpeth Minis section for boys and girls in current school years Reception and Year 1.
The non-competitive sessions are taking place on Sundays between 10.30am and 11.30am at Chantry Middle School. There is a free tee-shirt for all who attend.
Interest is welcome from parents who would like to get involved with coaching the youngsters.
For more information, telephone Dave Hunt on 07970 777295.
New players are welcome for all age groups at the club. More details about individual teams and managers are available at www.morpethsportingclub.com
The website includes a section explaining how you can raise money for the club by visiting certain online directories.