The following article is written by Dave, Castlecroft Ranger's Chairman. "It's written from the heart, a little insight into my head. It may not be everyone's cup of tea" says Dave. Whether it is or isn't, that's for you to decide. To leave comments and thoughts, you can email us at our primary contact address (see side-panel) or drop a few words into the comments box, below the article.
Know Your Place And Be Proud!
So what’s this crazy Bill Oddie inspired ramble got to do with football?
Well of course...nothing...on the face of it. Football does have its hierarchy though, the big boys at the top, the little guys in the middle and us the amateur game at the very bottom. Seldom, if ever, does a team rise from the ranks of amateur football any higher that the lower echelons of the EvoStik, of the top of my head I can think of very few beyond Causeway United and AFC Wulfrunians in our local area.
A very good friend and esteemed groundhopper Graham Yapp once described our level of football as "Level 42" and he is exactly right. No way up and no way down! We don’t have crowds really, we have friends, family and the occasional passer-by. Your season ticket holder at the Molineux or the Hawthorns doesn’t really understand us but respects our commitment and passion for the beautiful game.
If you don’t renew your season ticket with the big boys they simply replace you with another body willing to pay the astronomical yearly tariff. Down here at "Level 42" if you stop paying your subs, stop your fundraising efforts and lose interest the club ceases to exist. You are not simply part of the club you are the club, now this is good but also very very BAD.
Any organisation where its employees are also its clients is bound to fail in the long term : what, when we are all too old, too married, too caught up in taking the kids to...? We must look to a sustainable future. There is a model in American Sports although it is not an exact fit. I strongly believe that the future of clubs like ours relies on developing a feeder culture as seen in North American Ice Hockey.
A number of clubs run junior football only. The clubs finish at 18 or 21 and players are simply released many leaving the game altogether. Teams like us without youth set ups should look to teams like this as they have done much of the hard work for us and bring the talent through into the adult game. Likewise as the talent develops and matures we have a duty to give these guys a shot at football at a higher level and so should feed players into the semi-professional ranks and provide game time for those at that level currently not making it onto the park. The seasoned veteran still wanting a game can also find a home with us too and at the same time provide ‘money-couldn’t-buy’ experience for younger players.
We must act soon though, for there is a bigger demon waiting for us all, like the asteroid that did for the dinosaurs. Short sided football on plastic pitches on a weekday night soaks up talent. As it becomes more organised and teams have proper names and kits etc, more will be sucked into this new form of the game.. Players are spared the headache of being away from home over the weekend or can go to the pub with their mates and watch Soccer Saturday and before you know it Amateur Football is no more.
But we are not going to let that happen are we.