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Honorary Secretary's Report 08-09


This report has to start with celebrating the fact that we have two national champions - our County U.18 team and Walbottle Campus School's U.15 team.

Once again Andy Costello and Matty Turner have had a magnificent season with the County U.18s. Their season got off to an inauspicious start with a home draw against Cumbria but the team went from strength to strength and showed that they had on inner steel which meant they never felt they were beaten. This was no more evident than in the game against Durham where they were 4-2 behind with 10 minutes to go. They emerged as 5-4 winners! As they progressed to the later rounds of competitions this self belief led to some really dominant performances. In the national final they were comfortable 4-0 winners against Hampshire, at Luton Town FC, and they followed this with the 5-0 drubbing of Lancashire in the Northern Counties final. Daniel Hindmarsh (Churchill CC) scored hat- tricks in both these finals. It was the forward threat posed by Daniel, Stephen Baptist and Steven Forster (both Tyne Met College) that made this team such an effective one. This was backed up by a very hard-working midfield and a defence held together by Steven Robinson (Tyne Met College).

Matty Turner has decided to resign from his post as Assistant Manager to the U.18 team. We thank him for the excellent support he has given to Andy Costello and hope to welcome him back into county team management in the future.

Walbottle U.15s know what it is like to be national champions because they won the U.13 Minute Maid competition two years ago. They are a skillful side who play very attractive football. Unfortunately there was a catalogue of disputes and appeals when it came to their semi-final - a message to all that it is important to read and understand the rules of competitions that you enter. Eventually common sense prevailed and Walbottle moved on to the final at Bramall Lane where they emerged victorious in a trouble-free game. Many congratulations to them.

We also had national winners in English Colleges Football Association competitions. Both Monkseaton High School and Tyne Met College were winners of prestigious cups and we extend our congratulations to them.

Once again our U.16 County teams progressed to the Northern Counties semi-finals. Our girls travelled to Merseyside - always a tough proposition. We started in great style going into the lead only a few minutes into the game. For long periods the game was evenly contested but gradually the 'Scousers' came to dominate and won 3-1. Interesting to note that Merseyside won the final 5-0 against West Yorkshire who previously had become National Champions! Our thanks go to June Lomax for her continued good work with this team.

Our U.16 boys played host to Lancashire in the semi-finals. Injuries (before and during the game) meant that Malcolm Denham could not set the team up as he would have wished. In fairness the boys did not play to their potential and it was a disappointing defeat after extra time. Also interesting that Lancashire went on to win the final against Greater Manchester who were also National Champions.

After (at least) 14 years service to County U.16 teams Malcolm Denham is stepping down as manager. No longer will we hear at Executive Committee meetings how his cunning substitutions saved the day and how every 1-0 victory should really have been ten! Malcolm has served the County with great distinction. He has always approached the role of manager with great professional pride ensuring that his players are well-informed, looked after properly and well-disciplined both on and off the field. We thank him sincerely for all his excellent work. In recent years he has been supported by Owen Aiston. After a nasty illness we were delighted to see Owen return to the fray. He too has decided to step down and our thanks are extended to him as well.

Graeme Burn is another whose service we will miss. Despite having moved to South Tyneside Graeme continued in his role as Referees' Representative - which was a great  relief to me when it came to making arrangements for County matches. Perhaps it says something about the camaraderie in Northumberland schools' football that he was willing to do this? However he now finds that his role as South Tyneside secretary (and the fact that he also has to do some teaching......) means that he will have to give someone else the pleasure of liaising with referees. Thanks Graeme for all the help and support you have given.

Graeme has not only organised our referees but also given his time to officiate. To him and all of his colleagues we extend a very big 'thank you' and hope that refereeing our games is the pleasure that refereeing should be.

Member schools need to be aware of the amount of work put in by Executive Committee members that supplements that done by local Association officials. Peter Tracey's commitment to both U.19 and girls' football is much appreciated. The success of these two aspects of our association's activities is surely reflected in the success we have been experiencing at inter-County and national levels. Chris Newman does so much more than that is expected of a Treasurer and the efficient running of the association is dependent on his input. Other committee members all do their bit in a variety of ways - the strength of the Association is the way that people pull together to make sure that things get done well. All competitions reached a timely conclusion as their organisers made sure that games were played - though, as ever, their jobs could have been easier if schools made sure they were committed to meeting target deadlines in order to be fair to all concerned. A real success this year have been the U.14 and U.15 County leagues and our thanks are due to Doug Pettit for his organisation of these competitions - we wish him well as he moves to pastures new.

A list of winners is attached - congratulations to them all. Newcastle had an excellent year at inter Association level - achieving a clean sweep of all boys' competitions. There is still concern that so few of these competitions see the leagues properly completed.

ESFA has been pleased to acknowledge the service to schools' football of Owen Alston (Newcastle) - 25 years; Colin McKay (North Tyneside) 25 years; Chris Whitehouse (North Tyneside) - 10 years; and Graeme Sanderson (North Tyneside) - 10 years. We pass on our congratulations too.

Dennis Fulton has joined a small but elite band of those whose outstanding service to Northumberland Schools' football is recognised by them being elected to life membership. He was our secretary for 12 years and our E5FA Council member for 17 years. He still attends Executive Committee meetings where his experience and wisdom are of great benefit to the association. Although we are always keen to welcome new faces into the organising of schools' football, we are also reliant on the experience of those like Dennis who show such loyal support for so many years.

Our relationships with sister organisations remain good. We work closely with the Northumberland FA who are always so cooperative in hosting County matches at their excellent facility at Whitley Park. We have been pleased to welcome Michael Hutchison (Competitions Manager - Northumberland Sport) to Executive Committee meetings.

Schools' football in Northumberland remains healthy but we need to ensure that the product is the best that it con be. Players need regular football that is well-presented and well-organised. Many people do this very well and we thank them for their work. Others sometimes let us down through a lack of attention to detail, some poor communication and a commitment to quality that is less than it should be. There is no doubt that the good things outweigh those that cause concern - a fact we need to celebrate without being complacent.

Thanks are extended to all teachers and other colleagues who strive to make our schools' football an experience to be remembered and enjoyed.

Neil Pont June 2009