THE SUNDAY LEAGUE TEAM WHO ARE 'FAMOUS'
FOR HAVING ALL THEIR MATCHES CAPTURED ON VIDEO

Site Designed & Maintained by Laurence Hughes (Club Secretary, Chairman & Cameraman !) e-mail: laurence_hughes@yahoo.co.uk  © 2017  Laurence Hughes ARCHIVE OF PREVIOUS SEASONS SEASON 2015-2016

APPEARANCES

CHAIRMANSBLOG

MATCH REPORTS

ORC SPORTS WALTHAM (SUNDAY) FOOTBALL LEAGUE

FINAL DIVISION ONE TABLE

APPEARANCES & GOALSCORERS SEASON 2015-2016 (INCLUDES PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES) MATCH REPORTS SEASON 2015-2016 CHAIRMAN’S BLOGS SEASON 2015-2016

NAME

APPEARANCES

GOALS

NAME

APPEARANCES

GOALS

Tem ADIL

18

1

Anees IKRAMULLAH

1


Chris AKINRELE

11

2

Simon JACKSON (GK)

6


Grant BAKER (GK)

11


Rafiel JOHNSON

7

1

Jack BANGS

17

7

Martin LOVEDAY (GK)

1


Alan BARNARD

17

1

Gavin MARDELL

16


Steve BARTLEY

1


Leon McKENZIE-McKAY

16

6

Ivan BASS

15


Terry MOORE

19


Ryan BATES

7


Haluk OZKAN

1

1

Sam BENJAMIN

1


Tyronne PETRIE

11


Leon BERNARD

3


Nicky RICHARDS

1


Daniel CASCOE

12

2

Stephen ROUSSETY (GK)

4


Martin CRUICKSHANK

19

1

Bruce SCOTT

2

1

Daniel DALEY

16

6

Stephen SHELLARD

2


Stuart DORWARD

1


George STAHLMANN

3


Danny HAGAN

4

2

Huseyin TASAN

1


Lexton HARRISON

17

1

Ben TAYLOR

1

2

Eric IBEKWEM

10

2




CLICK ON THE OPPONENTS' NAME TO VIEW A MATCH REPORT & THE YOU TUBE LINK TO VIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Date of Match

Opponents

 

Competition

Result

You Tube

Sunday 16th August

BROXBOURNE RANGERS OLD BOYS

Home

Pre-Season Friendly

Won 3-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 23rd August

SUMNERS ATHLETIC

Home

Pre-Season Friendly

Won 5-0

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 30th August

FLAMSTEAD END

Home

Pre-Season Friendly

Lost 2-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 6th September

BBFC

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 3-0

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 13th September

SPORTING ENFIELD

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 20th September

CHESHUNT TOWN

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 2-1

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 27th September

CLUB LIXUS

Home

London FA Sunday Junior Cup First Round

Won 3-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 4th October

EVOLUTION

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 2-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 11th October

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 18th October

SPORTING ENFIELD

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Drew 1-1

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 25th October

GOFFS ATHLETIC

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 3-5

 PRIVATE ONLY

Sunday 1st November

OLD POND ATHLETIC

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-4

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 8th November

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 15th November

BIRKBECK ORIENT

Home

London FA Sunday Junior Cup Second Round

Lost 1-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 22nd November

OLD POND ATHLETIC

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 29th November

OLD POND ATHLETIC

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One (Third Match)

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 6th December

THE SHEAF

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 2-0

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 13th December

PERCIVAL

Home

Waltham Sunday League Challenge Cup Second Round

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 20th December

EVOLUTION

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-4

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 27th December

NO MATCH ARRANGED (Xmas Break)

Sunday 3rd January

THE SHEAF

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 10th January

GOFFS ATHLETIC

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 17th January

PERCIVAL

Home

Waltham Sunday League Challenge Cup Second Round

POSTPONED (Snow & Frost)

Sunday 24th January

EVOLUTION

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One (Third Match)

Lost 1-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 31st January

CHESHUNT TOWN

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 7th February

PERCIVAL

Home

Waltham Sunday League Challenge Cup Second Round

Lost 1-5

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 14th February

NO MATCH ARRANGED (Released due to player unavailability)

Sunday 21st February

CHESHUNT TOWN

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One (Third Match)

Drew 4-4

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 28th February

CHESHUNT TOWN

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 2-8

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 6th March

OLD POND ATHLETIC

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One (Third Match)

Lost 1-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 13th March

CHESHUNT TOWN

Home

Waltham Sunday League Intermediate Cup Semi-Final

Lost 2-4

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Sunday 19th June 2016

At the time of my last Chairman's Blog on Saturday 12th March, we were just about to play a Waltham Sunday League Intermediate Cup Semi-Final against Cheshunt Town, while we still had two Division One matches remaining, both against Goffs Athletic, who were one of three teams in contention for the Division One Title. Although the withdrawal from the division of five teams had left only five others remaining (including Goffs Athletic) and resultantly no League matches left for us in April or May, we were at least hoping to reach that Cup Final for the second successive season albeit after conveniently being given a Bye to the Semi-Finals on both occasions due to teams dropping out, while we were also looking forward to putting a dent in Goffs Athletic's title ambitions after a 'stormy' first match against them earlier in the season where the verbals and wind-ups between the players were so bad that the highlights were unable to be made publicly viewable on You Tube. However, we then ended up losing that Semi-Final because of some shocking defensive blunders, while Goffs Athletic withdrew from the League due to player suspensions and internal disciplinary problems before we had a chance to play them. Our season was therefore finished ridiculously early on the 13th March, and it was so much of a farce that thanks to The Sheaf having their two remaining matches awarded to us as they had already played 75% of their fixtures when they themselves decided to withdraw, we actually ended up finishing third in the table...our highest League position in Division One for 12 years...despite only having one win (on the field of play) in our final 14 League & Cup matches !

Although a lot of people may disagree, the withdrawal of six of the ten teams who started the season in Division One was not necessarily the Waltham Sunday League's fault. The demise of those particular clubs were primarily because of Team Managers and/or Club Secretaries not wanting to do their jobs any more due to family commitments, disillusionment with their better players making themselves unavailable, and in some cases because they themselves were funding their clubs in order to attract Semi-Pro players but then ran out of money as they were not charging their players 'subs' to pay for the pitch fees. Unfortunately though, the remaining four teams (including our own players) together with a large number of clubs in the other two divisions, didn't see it that way and simply blamed the League for being 'too strict with fines' and not using some of it's '£35,000 in the bank' to help subsidise pitch fees for 'struggling' clubs, thereby starting off a snowball effect of announcing their resignations for Season 2016-2017 at the League Full Council 'Pre-AGM' Meeting held on Thursday 14th April, with many having already applied to join the Waltham League's closest rivals, the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League, which now has five divisions with eleven teams in each already confirmed for next season as a result.

Chairing that Pre-AGM Meeting on the 14th April was Tony Sharples, who was the Waltham Sunday League's General Secretary back in its heyday from when we first joined in 1988 up until the start of Season 2002-2003 when he resigned to eventually become Chairman of the London Football Association. At the start of that 2002-2003 Season when Tony left, the League had seven divisions and was rightly acknowledged as being the strongest Sunday League in the South-East of England for the standard of football being played. Ian Andrews then took over as the League's General Secretary and held that post until the end of Season 2008-2009 when he left to become Secretary of the Amateur Football Combination in Saturday football, with Denis Coventry then becoming the Waltham Sunday League's General Secretary for Season 2009-2010, remaining in that post ever since. Previously to that, Denis had been on the Committee in a number of roles going way back to when we first joined the League, while also being the League's top Referee on a number of occasions (based on the marks given by clubs and the end-of-season awards). At the start of Season 2009-2010, the Waltham Sunday League had five divisions with 12 teams in each, while the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League only had two divisions with a total of 15 clubs. This was at a time when a lot of adult Sunday Leagues started folding due to the changes in player lifestyles in having to work on Sundays or being able to drink in nightclubs all night, so the Waltham Sunday League was still a big and highly-respected League compared to others.

At the Pre-AGM Meeting on the 14th April, with the future of the League clearly in jeopardy from so many teams having folded during the current 2015-2016 season, Tony Sharples started off by asking each League Officer individually for a 'Yes' or a 'No' as to whether they would be staying in their positions for Season 2016-2017, followed by each club as to whether they intended to stay. He started by asking Denis Coventry, who said 'Yes', followed by League Treasurer Malcolm Miller, who also said 'Yes'. He then asked me (as League Website Secretary) and I said 'No'. The League Chairman Fred Beer also confirmed he was a 'No', having announced his retirement at a League Management Committee Meeting a week earlier, as had the League Fixture Secretary Dave Smith, who did not bother to attend the Pre-AGM. The only other Officer in attendance (League Assistant Treasurer David Butler) said 'Yes', then it was the turn of the clubs to be asked. Only eleven said 'Yes', with three others saying they were 'undecided'. The rest (which included our club) had already said 'No'. Denis Coventry then said that he had not received any applications from new clubs and blamed that and the League's demise on 'people not wanting to play men's Sunday League football any more'. Not surprisingly, during the weeks following that Pre-AGM Meeting, a number of the eleven clubs who had said 'Yes', plus the three who were 'undecided' then announced they were also leaving to join (mainly) the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League or would just be folding up completely, and at the League AGM on Thursday 26th May (which I was unable to attend due to work commitments), the League was officially 'suspended' for Season 2016-2017 with a view to it re-starting for Season 2017-2018 once Denis Coventry had found enough new clubs to form at least one division. Although no Minutes from that League AGM have been circulated yet, he apparently told the meeting that he is convinced that the clubs who have left for other Leagues will soon want to come back when they realise that those other Leagues are not as well-run as the Waltham Sunday League is/was. Well, the saying 'living in cloud cuckoo land' certainly springs to mind there ! Also at that Waltham League AGM, one of the few remaining Club Secretaries evidently asked for a working group to be set up to see where things went wrong. I'm not sure exactly who he thinks should form that working group, but maybe he needs to look at himself as one of the causes of the League's demise by unscrupulously forwarding one of my e-mails on to Denis Coventry to let him know that I had an issue with being re-appointed as League Website Secretary in terms of having to correct the embarrassing spelling and grammatical mistakes that had appeared in official League documents on the League's Full-Time site during my enforced five-year absence from that Website Secretary's role. The forwarding of that e-mail caused such a huge argument in subsequent e-mails between Denis, myself and the clubs...and particularly on the League's Facebook Group page..., that some clubs undoubtedly decided they had had enough of the bickering and denials and therefore left the League for that reason. Indeed that may well have happened in previous seasons as well, because the under-hand forwarding by certain individuals of e-mail arguments between myself and Denis that implicated one or two clubs had been going on ever since he became the League General Secretary. Was the demise of the Waltham Sunday League all my fault for criticising Denis in private e-mails to Club Secretaries, other Officers and publicly on here in these Chairman's Blogs though ? If some clubs think so, fair enough and I will hold my hands up, although as far as the strength of the League and standard of football was concerned, I was forever publicising that on this website and on various Forums and social media, particularly all 29 pages of this one during the last six years. However, let's look at it from my point of view. I am a self-employed businessman, and as such, I know full well that if you have a company website, you are not going to be successful if that website is full of embarrassing 'typos'. Customers will think that trader is incompetent and they will look elsewhere. Both my Hughes Video Services website and this one are done properly, and that has earnt me great respect, consequently keeping both my business and Edmonton Rovers Football Club alive. In agreeing to do the Waltham Sunday League website in the first place (using the same design) and then again when Denis (in apparent desperation) asked me to resurrect it half-way through the season in an effort to save the League, he (and everybody else) should have known that there was no way I could just put information supplied by him (and indeed other League Officers) on there without it being re-worded using the correct spelling and grammar. If anybody wants examples of what I am getting at, they only need to look at the League's Full-Time website which Denis refused to give me a login to so that he could do everything himself during the five-year period between 2011 & 2016 when my League Website was scrapped. Texts and e-mails sent to clubs by Denis also caused problems which may well have resulted in teams leaving the League. As Club Secretaries could not understand what he was trying to say, they had no option but to phone him to find out what he meant. He would often get annoyed because of that (and for calling him at an 'inappropriate' time) and on some occasions he would slam the phone down on them. I have lost count of the number of Club Secretaries I have spoken to over the years who have complained about him doing that or 'biting their heads off' whenever they have tried to query something. There is no doubt whatsoever that Denis worked tirelessly for the League and did a very competent and efficient job as the League's Records, Fines and Registration Secretary, even though he was criticised by many clubs for being too strict with handing out fines and not accepting passport photos unless they were 'perfect'. The problem with being rude to people on the phone though is that the word soon gets around, and amongst the football community in the Cheshunt area, and particularly for potential new clubs, the 'friendliness' of the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League was a much better option. Due to my contacts in Sunday League football in general, I knew this had been happening and that nothing was ever going to change unless Denis resigned as League General Secretary. That was why I said 'No' when Tony Sharples asked the 'Yes or No for staying' question at the Pre-AGM while I then informed the meeting that our club would be playing in the Barnet Sunday League next season, which was what our players had requested. If Denis had said he was resigning, then I would have said 'Yes', as myself and a number of other current, former and prospective new Officers had already got together to form a new Committee subject to enough clubs staying if Denis (and the other two Officers present) had resigned. However, it had already become clear at that point that the League would be folding anyway, so there was no point in asking for proposals and a vote.
Denis surely has to accept at least some responsibility for the League's demise, but to my knowledge he is yet to do so, and quite frankly I find it disgraceful that he is trying to put the blame on 'people not wanting to play Sunday football any more' when the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League (and indeed several other Sunday Leagues in the Home Counties) have shown that it is not the case at all. Incredibly, Denis actually had no idea that the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League had been playing with four divisions last season and with 13 teams in each (apart from the Premier Division which finished with nine). He didn't realise there was a Links page on my League website to every other Sunday League in Hertfordshire, London, Middlesex and West Essex from which he could have seen that other Leagues were thriving. There are many other factors in the Waltham League's demise though. Other clubs have chosen to pin the blame on League Treasurer Malcolm Miller for hoarding a ridiculous amount of money instead of spending it on subsidising pitch fees for clubs, while also refusing to give them refunds for waterlogged pitches. This has not really affected us in our 28 years in the League because we always booked our previous ground at Hazelwood directly from Enfield Council, who then gave us a free pitch for Pre-Season Friendlies as a replacement for postponements the previous season. However, when clubs book their pitches directly from the League, they have to pay a lump sum twice yearly which was made non-refundable by the League Treasurer because Enfield and Broxbourne Councils operate different policies in giving refunds. The clubs rightly felt that the £35,000 in the bank should have been used to help them, and they have a point when the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League only charge their clubs on a monthly basis and only when a pitch is actually used. The fact that the remaining money in the bank (which is now £28,000) goes to the Herts FA’s ‘Benevolent Fund’ if the League does not re-form in the next two years is another huge bone of contention when Malcolm Miller is also the Treasurer of the Herts FA. Another argument that contributed to clubs folding or leaving was the refusal of the League to give the Home Team the money from the imposed £50 fine for an Away Team non-fulfilling a match (instead of it going into the League's coffers), while another legitimate complaint was Referees still having to be paid their £35.00 match fee when a game was called off by a club on a Saturday because of a lack of players. Clubs were outraged by that rule, as players who could have arranged to have gone to work also lost out on earning money as well, so why should only Referees be re-imbursed ? Similarly when a game is called off from a team non-fulfilling once the Referee has arrived at the ground. Why should he still be paid £35.00 when the players themselves who had turned up could have gone to work instead ?
Other reasons being given for the Waltham League having to fold is that there were no easy matches for teams, even in Division Two, because every club was well-run and invariably had current or former Semi-Pros playing for them. Other Leagues have bottom divisions where there are a large number of slow unfit players with beer guts or ungainly players who never grew up playing football as kids, but that sort of thing has always been rare in the Waltham League. As soon as clubs started losing most of their matches, they would fold or join the East Herts Corinthian League the following season to get an easier game. That is certainly a valid argument, as is another one that one or two clubs have made about a certain club being allowed to get away with a disciplinary issue last season because of 'who they are', although don't blame the League for that one. Those powers of suspension or expulsion were taken away from the Waltham League by the F.A. about five seasons ago (because the League were directly affiliated to the F.A. instead of to a County F.A.), so they are the ones to blame for 'doing nothing'. It certainly isn't the F.A.'s fault that the Waltham League has folded though, which was a suggestion tweeted recently by ex-League General Secretary Ian Andrews. I agree with Ian's tweet that the F.A. 'do not do enough for grassroots football', but like Denis Coventry, he obviously doesn't realise that the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League are now up to five divisions for next season, as are another previously-struggling League, the Essex Sunday Corinthian. And there are plenty more who are stable and in no danger whatsoever, admittedly after mergers with other Leagues in some cases, but if they can do it, why couldn't the Waltham League ? Yes, other adult Sunday Leagues in the Home Counties are folding this Summer as well, but in most cases that is because they do not have suitable candidates to become League Officers and replace the older generation who are unable to grasp the modern technology that is now required, particularly with the F.A.'s Full-Time system now apparently becoming mandatory next season.

Going back to that Club Secretary's request for a working group to look at where things went wrong though, well if he wants my opinion in addition to what others think (above), here are some other factors...

- The scrapping of my League website back in 2011 and the League then calling itself the 'Waltham Football League' on Full-Time instead of   the 'Waltham Sunday League' (because cheques were being made out to the 'Waltham Sunday League' which the League's bank did not   accept). This made prospective new clubs think the Waltham League was a Saturday League instead of a Sunday League, so they started   joining the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League instead.

- Once the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League had caught up in terms of number of clubs and divisions (at the start of Season 2013-2014),   there was no way that any new clubs from the Cheshunt area were going to join the Waltham League. The main reason for that was travel.   Why go down to play in Palmers Green (Hazelwood) or even Enfield Playing Fields every other week when all other teams in the East Herts   Corinthian League play north of the M25 where you can do 70mph or more in getting to Away games in double quick time ?

- The friendliness of the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League General Secretary (Graham Martin...an ex-Waltham Sunday League player).   'Allo mate. Great to speak to you. Come and have a pint down the pub and we'll accept you into our League'. That is the sort of thing that   the predominantly White English traditional 'old school' Pub teams from the Waltham League's Enfield & Cheshunt catchment area want to   hear. So offthey went.

And there you go really. Just one League Secretary being clued up on what teams want and the other wielding the big stick and trying to do jobs himself (e.g. Website, Full-Time & Minutes) when he did not have the necessary communication skills to do so.

Like many other Club Secretaries whose teams have played in the Waltham League for many years, I am gutted that the League has ended up folding, and in such a short space of time. It should never have been allowed to happen...and it might not have done if others had had the bottle to propose changes at League AGM's by putting themselves forward as candidates to replace certain senior League Officers once it was clear that the League was in danger of being overtaken in stature by its nearest rivals. In a way, we as Club Secretaries can take some of the blame as well for keeping quiet at League meetings for fear of seeing Officers resign with nobody to replace them, particularly for the League General Secretary's role. After all, whoever takes on that most senior of positions is there to be shot at, as they are essentially the figurehead of the League. I include myself in that historical reluctance to rock the boat by proposing changes, but then being Secretary of Edmonton Rovers will always be more important to me, and I was not prepared to give that up to become a senior League Officer (which by FA rules and regulations is either Chairman, General/League Secretary, Treasurer, Registrations and/or Fixtures...as far as I know, although it has been known for the latter two roles to be undertaken by Club Secretaries in the past). The East Herts Corinthian Sunday League should have been forced into a position of having to fold back in 2009-2010 or in the three or four seasons thereafter when it had less teams and less divisions, thereby allowing the Waltham League to continue being the dominant force in the area with the majority of its clubs continuing to be from the Cheshunt/Broxbourne/Hoddesdon/Ware areas as it was when we first joined back in 1988. I can remember our very first match in the Waltham League back in September 1988 and it was a real eye-opener for all the best reasons. Previously we had only played Away games in the Borough of Enfield or in 'dodgy' inner-city places such as Lordship Rec in Tottenham, Weavers Fields in Bethnal Green and Hackney Marshes (which had cowsheds and horse troughs for changing rooms & showers in those days). Some of us had never even driven north of Bullsmoor Lane before, but our first match Away to Eleanor Cross (in Senior Division Three) was at Wormley Playing Fields, a place that was 'right out in the sticks' as far as we were concerned. Of course there were no Sat-Navs and mobile phones in those days, so it took us a while to find the ground, but when we got there we found flat pitches, good facilities and opponents who were so much better-organised defensively and who wanted to play football instead of fight and have verbals. As is still the case nowadays, we had a completely multi-racial team for that first match with five black players (Leo Ayre, John & Stafford Dyer and Huw & Gareth John), a Swiss goalkeeper (Sergio Carraro), an Italian sweeper (Francesco Apicella), an Irish Captain (Tony O'Driscoll), plus Dave Ashton (Scottish), Aaron Dart (Jewish) and Karl Christodoulou (Half Greek-Cypriot/Half Irish). We drew the match 0-0 and it was a hugely enjoyable game because of the 'pleasant' surroundings, the standard of football and the sportsmanship of our opponents. In the 28 years that followed, we have never once wanted to leave the League because the large majority of our matches have been played at similar venues and to a similar standard that you just do not get with a lot of other Sunday Leagues, particularly the ones we had previously been in. Presdales in Ware was another venue where we had some great Waltham League matches over the years. Similarly Pound Close in Hoddesdon, Grundy Park in Cheshunt, Flamstead End Playing Fields and one or two school/college pitches in Turnford. All of these places are now either used by teams in the East Herts Corinthian League or are no longer used for football at all. However, we will now look forward to a new era in the Barnet Sunday League and hopefully find some new venues at which we can produce some more memorable performances.

We had already made the decision to join the Barnet Sunday League for next season before the Waltham League's AGM. Indeed I completed the application form as soon as I got home from the Waltham League Pre-AGM meeting on the 14th April, and I suspect a number of other clubs did likewise in joining the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League as soon as they could after that meeting. Continental and Churchbury will be joining us in the Barnet Sunday League, but as far as I am aware, no Waltham League clubs are joining the Edmonton Sunday League instead. Traditionally, teams have always gone the other way and left that League to join the Waltham League, so whether any Edmonton Sunday League clubs now join the Barnet League remains to be seen. The main reason we decided not to re-join the Edmonton Sunday League after an absence of 32 years was the lack of car parking at the three venues that League uses for all their clubs, Firs Farm, Church Street Rec and the Barrass Stadium Surround. Back in the late-70's and early-80's that was never a problem, but it certainly is nowadays. Also, filming the matches would be extremely difficult at Firs Farm where the pitches are only a yard apart with no room on the touchlines, while the likely street parking places are too far away to carry my ladder-platform and stepladders if I wanted to use those to gain a vantage point.

On Sunday 15th May I filmed a Barnet Sunday League Cup Final at Wingate & Finchley FC, highlights of which can be seen here, and then as a result of receiving my completed application form, on Monday 30th May I met the Barnet Sunday League General Secretary Richard Martin for an official chat alongside Churchbury Secretary Paul Hunt. Like the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League, this was done over a pint in the pub and the meeting was very friendly. None of this 'stern-faced three senior Officers sitting at a table opposite'-lark that the Waltham League would always do...whereby they would then turn away clubs who didn't have a club bank account, at least a grand in the bank and 'evidence' of already having enough players and equipment, hence that League ending up with no newly-formed teams at all year after year ! Of course both ourselves and Churchbury were formed in 1976 and were the two oldest clubs in the Waltham League, so we were never going to be questioned like that anyway, but what I did find out from our meeting with Richard Martin (and my conversations with other Barnet Sunday League Officers at the Cup Final I filmed) was a large number of different rules and regulations to what we had been used to with the Waltham Sunday League. Mainly good, some bad, but mostly acceptable and nothing particularly worse than most other Sunday Leagues are doing. These are as follows...
- Club Linesmen only used if Referees think both clubs have somebody suitable...and no fine if they don't. GOOD
-
Roll-On, Roll-Off Subs with five different players named as subs and all allowed to come on. GOOD

- 3G Pitches Allowed. GOOD

- Online Payments for League Fees instead of writing out cheques. GOOD

- 10.00.am Kick-Off then a 12.00.pm Kick-Off on the same pitch allowed when there is a shortage of pitches. FAIR ENOUGH

- No more printed Passport Photos required for Player Registrations. GOOD Still need signatures though. BAD
- It appears as if Registration Forms can be scanned & e-mailed instead of being posted though. GOOD

- Result Cards have to be signed by each player before the Kick-Off (to stop teams playing ringers). This is what we had to do 35 years ago in   the Edmonton Sunday League. FAIR ENOUGH, but it can be a problem if it is raining and nobody can find a pen that works ! They then   have to be posted off though. BAD

- They use Mitoo instead of Full-Time as their League Website. Prefer Full-Time but FAIR ENOUGH

- New clubs are charged £5.00 for each player they register ! BAD The Waltham League only charged £1.00 per player. (Myself and Paul Hunt   both spluttered and nearly dropped our drinks when Richard Martin told us that one !)

We were also given a League handbook from the season just ended and the list of fines in it are astronomical and up to three times more expensive than the Waltham League. I suspect they are only handed out if clubs fail to heed warnings though, but we rarely incur fines anyway, so it shouldn't matter to us.

There are only two other new clubs joining the Barnet League at the moment apart from ourselves, Churchbury and Continental, and we have all been asked to attend the League AGM on Tuesday 28th June at Danny Hagan's old haunt, Crouch End Vampires FC, which is where all their meetings are held. Apparently there have been a number of rule changes proposed, so hopefully some of them will tidy up the above.

While I was doing my usual job of filming numerous Cup Finals for different adult Sunday Leagues in and around London and surrounding counties during the past three months, the demise of the Waltham League, the increasing success of the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League and our switch to the Barnet Sunday League all helped to focus my mind on how these other Leagues operate, and it was fascinating to see that a lot of them do things very differently in an effort to keep themselves alive. Interestingly though, they ALL use Roll On Roll-Off Subs with five different players allowed to come on, they ALL only use Club Linesmen if the Referee deems them suitable, and they ALL allow 3G pitches to be played on, which therefore greatly reduces postponements from waterlogged pitches. The Waltham League allowed none of that, and I have no doubt whatsoever that this could well have been another big factor in the League's demise, as players have gone and joined teams in other Leagues in recent seasons because of it. We ourselves know full well that they do NOT want to stand on the line as an unused sub, they do NOT want to be roped into running the line instead of being able to talk to their mates, and they do NOT want to turn up and find their pitch called off waterlogged or frozen at the last minute when they could have gone to work instead. Although those three improvements are a common factor in how Sunday Leagues operate nowadays, some League have vastly different ideas regarding the use of modern technology and how effective that can be. The East Herts Corinthian Sunday League use Full-Time and get their teams to login to it to input their player appearances and goalscorers, but that's it in terms of being more advanced than the Waltham Sunday League. They have no custom League website, they do not use Facebook or Twitter, and they have even gone as far as scrapping any sort of Presentation Night for their League Title winners/'Secretary Of The Year'/'Top Referee'/'Fair Play Award', etc. which the Waltham League would never think of doing. Instead they just turn up to each divisional title winner's last match and give them the trophy on the final whistle...which is actually not a bad idea. I'm sure the players would all rather sing 'Championies' together there and then instead of just the Club Captain and the Secretary doing it at the League AGM or a formal dinner. From what I can remember, Graham Martin (and Paul Carter, the Referees Secretary who helps him run that League...seemingly on their own up until now !?) also told me they don't give out any other awards (including a medal for each individual player ?) because it is a waste of money and the likely recipients are not bothered anyway. They also have a point there, as our Waltham Sunday League L.L.Stevens Chairman's Trophy for Admin & Discipline that we won back in Season 1999-2000 has been gathering dust ever since and is not exactly the most prized possession in my Rovers trophy cabinet. I would much rather we had actually won something on the field of play in our 28 years with the League...which we failed miserably to do of course. The East Herts Corinthian Sunday League also only do a folded sheet of A4 paper for their Cup Final programmes and the trophy presentations for each one are done without any sort of speech from a League Officer. All deliberately low-key because the clubs are apparently not bothered. The Essex Sunday Corinthian League (which Waltham Sunday League Premier Division Champions Upshire have now joined) and its 'sister' Saturday parks League, the Essex Alliance though, which are both run by Rob Parker in terms of Websites, publicity and assisting the senior officers, do things completely the opposite. The websites are far more creative and functional than mine and Rob really uses Facebook, Twitter and e-mailed newsletters 'to the max'. They produce lavish programmes for their Cup Finals and really milk the occasion for the teams with 'We are the Champions' and 'Simply The Best' being blared out for the trophy presentations...which means my You Tube channel gets a 'strike' if I am filming it, but that's another matter. The clubs love it and teams and players really interact with each other on the League's social media platforms. Both of Rob's Leagues have had enormous success in attracting newly-formed clubs because of this publicity, but the Waltham League's attempts to keep Facebook and Twitter updated were not as detailed and not as regular because the man in the know regarding League news was Denis Coventry, who was unable to use Twitter and unwilling to post on Facebook himself. The Waltham League's use of social media also came too late. The damage had already been done when the East Herts Corinthian became a bigger League before both Twitter, Facebook (and the return of my League website) were introduced. Both the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League and the Essex Sunday Corinthian League's vastly different methods in attracting and retaining clubs are effective, but the common denominator is undoubtedly the friendliness of the League Officers and their willingness to help their member clubs instead of punishing them and forcing them to look elsewhere. My first impressions of the Barnet Sunday League Officers are the same as that of Graham Martin, Paul Carter and Rob Parker and a number of people have told me that they are indeed of the same ilk. Richard Martin (the Barnet League Secretary) did admit that he is in his 70's, but he certainly didn't come across as an 'old fart' and he wasn't wearing a blazer', which was a generalisation I made in my previous Chairman's Blog and is of course part and parcel of football in general when League and F.A. Committees are talked about. He seemed very receptive to the ideas I gave him regarding modern technology as a result of my job in seeing what other Leagues do while I am filming their Cup Finals. I do think the Barnet Sunday League will need to publicise itself more than it is at the moment because it is competing with too many other Leagues in the Barnet and Enfield areas, whereas the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League is not having to do that now that the Waltham League (and the Welwyn-Hatfield and Stevenage Sunday Leagues) have all folded. The East Herts Corinthian League are actually now telling new clubs that they are already full up for next season and they are directing them to the Barnet Sunday League instead, so hopefully we will end up with at least 10 teams in our division because of that, and our players will not get bored and leave like they have done over the past two seasons in the Waltham League because of other teams dropping out.
As for other League Cup Finals I have filmed recently, the Orpington & Bromley Sunday League was an interesting one as their Chairman is the ex-Premier League Referee Steve Bennett, so consequently they used a podium for the Referee to pluck the match ball from as he came out of the tunnel (at Bromley FC) to lead the players onto the pitch. They also had numerous removable sponsors banners on display and each Officer (of which there were plenty) wore a smart League-embroidered polo shirt on the day. It all looked very impressive compared to other Sunday Leagues and it is well-known that the League only allow their Senior Division clubs to play at private grounds and that all matches in the Senior and Premier Divisions have official Assistant Referees appointed. These are invariably up-and-coming young Referees who have progressed from Youth Leagues, almost certainly with Steve Bennett as a mentor for that to happen. That was never allowed in the Waltham Sunday League. Young Referees from the Mid-Herts Rural Minors League were only ever allowed (by the Herts FA ?) to progress straight into Saturday football.
Other ideas I have seen in other Sunday Leagues recently is the scrapping of Extra-Time in all Cup matches, including Finals. In fact the London FA actually brought that in last season for their Sunday Cup competitions, but I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing really and I do not know what the purpose is of that rule. Another idea that adult Sunday Leagues could look at is liaising with the local Sunday morning Youth Leagues to get them to start all their matches at 10.00.am. so that the fathers can drop their kids off first and then go to play in their own adult game kicking-off at say 11.00.am. It would still require somebody to look after the kid(s) or take them home from their game while the father is still playing, but if that is possible, it would allow a lot more players to continue playing instead of teams (and Leagues) having to fold. It is invariably because the mother has a Sunday 10-4 job and cannot take the kid to football herself, and our own Lexton Harrison was in exactly that situation last season and has now been forced to retire because of it.

Although we are still continuing (despite the Waltham Sunday League's demise) when other clubs have simply given up and decided to fold instead of joining another League, we are still looking for a new Team Manager for next season, and as I suspected would happen, the only ones who are interested are current players who fancy being a Player-Manager. I have been advertising for several weeks, and a couple of weeks ago I e-mailed the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) in trying to get them to help (which they promise to do on their website). I have had no reply from whoever their Secretary is of course, and I don't think there is any doubt whatsoever that they still treat adult men's Sunday football as a joke and will have 'binned' my request. I hope I am wrong, but I suspect I will have to follow other leads. We need to have somebody in place by the time we have our AGM on Friday 8th July, otherwise we will struggle to attract new players for next season.

Finally, as usual at this time of year I have been filming Cup Finals, corporate matches and Tournaments at various Premier League grounds in recent weeks, namely West Ham, Southampton (St. Mary's Stadium) and Crystal Palace. The gantries (or alternative vantage points) I am given are excellent and it is so much easier filming matches from those positions. One of my freelance cameramen was fortunate enough to film the League Two Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium recently for his team AFC Wimbledon, despite Sky covering the match live. He was actually given a better half-way line vantage point (in an Upper Tier) than Sky because at Wembley, TV companies all decide to cover the matches from a ridiculously low angle at the top of the lowest tier (as they now do at White Hart Lane) so that the advertisers hoardings can be seen in the background all the time. It's all to do with money as opposed to what the viewer would prefer to see. For those of us who play, coach, manage (and in my case analyse) the game, we would much rather watch the match from just one camera from a higher angle down onto the pitch so that we can see what is happening tactically instead of having to view multiple different camera angles every few seconds while the ball is in play. I thought I read somewhere a while ago that TV companies were actually going to offer a red button interactive service where you can watch the match from one camera only. It is basically what I do for every match I film, and who knows, some people may actually prefer it. If any TV companies are reading this then, give me a shout and I will do that for you !

0

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Saturday 12th March 2016

At the time of my last Chairman's Blog in January, our division in the Waltham Sunday League had just gone down to six teams following the withdrawal of two more clubs to add to the two who pulled out before a ball was even kicked this season. With all the remaining teams in the division having to play each other three times in order to compensate for the lack of fixtures, boredom soon set in for a number of players, and combined with an increasing number of postponements from waterlogged pitches, many players (including quite a few of ours) decided to work on Sundays instead, resulting in every club in our division apart from us either failing to fulfil at least one fixture during the first two months of 2016 or being highly fortunate that they did not have a match arranged. In some cases the lack of matches was because teams had not paid fines or pitch fees before a certain deadline, and indeed another team, The Sheaf, have now suddenly folded because of a lack of both players and money, leaving Division One down to just five teams for the rest of the season ! In fact there may well be even more non-fulfilments yet from those remaining five teams, although we ourselves have been lucky so far in managing to field a bare eleven players on three occasions and at least one substitute in all the others when every season for the past four years we have had at least one match where we could only field 10 men or less. We still have two more Division One matches left to play in which that could happen though...if our opponents Goffs Athletic do not cry off themselves, which is quite possible even though they are actually in contention to win the Division One title ! They lost their last match 4-0 after turning up with only nine men and they have a number of players suspended at the time of writing. Our next match is the League Intermediate Cup Semi-Final in which we got a Bye straight through to play in that fixture for the second season running due to teams dropping out. Our Semi-Final opponents this time are Cheshunt Town, who have already conceded three matches this season due to a lack of players, the latest being their most recent fixture ! That's how embarrassing the division is getting, and although there are still 10 teams in the Premier Division and 9 teams in Division Two, there are teams in those divisions who have been struggling to field a side as well because of player apathy and have therefore also had to concede some of their fixtures. We ourselves are doing amazingly well to keep going considering we have now only won once in our last 13 matches in all competitions, which is mainly because any team in our division that starts losing matches or is a weaker side than us then immediately drops out before we get a chance to play them, leaving us with ridiculously tough matches week after week. We were also really unlucky to draw quality sides such as Percival, Club Lixus and Birkbeck Orient (who are now through to the London FA Sunday Junior Cup Semi-Final) for all three of our Cup matches played so far this season,  but the main problem recently is that we have too many players who are too old, not fit enough, and playing as if they are in retirement mode already. (We have at least four who will be doing just that at the end of this season). We have also had problems in the goalkeeping department with first-choice keeper Grant Baker having to work on Sundays most of the time so far this season, although thankfully that does seem to have been temporarily resolved, and we may even be able to reach a Cup Final again with Grant far less likely to make the sort of silly mistakes that our numerous other goalkeeping incumbents have made this season. In addition to that, we have since signed up three new younger players recently in Bruce Scott, Hal Ozkan and Anees Ikramullah to give us plenty of extra fitness and ability in the attacking midfield positions, and with more younger players lined up to join next season we should be fine for the future, especially if we find the right candidate to take over the currently vacant Manager's job. There will be more about that in my next Chairman's Blog, but for the time being, the injured Eric Ibekwem has volunteered to help out as Caretaker Player-Manager for our remaining matches so that we have somebody on the touchline organising substitutions, but with Terry Moore and myself still having an input in terms of squad/team selection as we see the season out. At least we already know that we are not going to finish bottom of the Division One table this season thanks to The Sheaf dropping out...because we still had to play them twice and have therefore been awarded the three points from both of those matches as their playing record cannot be wiped out thanks to them having already completed 75% of their fixtures ! At the same time, we will be finishing in our highest League position in Division One for 12 years...5th !

The main thing we need to think about right now though is what League we are going to play in next season, as all the withdrawals from Division One and the increasing number of non-fulfilments this season has resulted in several teams starting to confirm (or hint) that they will either be folding up during the Summer or will be leaving to join the much bigger and seemingly better-run East Herts Corinthian Sunday League for several reasons which I have mentioned in previous Chairman's Blogs, but primarily due to the 'A10 traffic congestion in Enfield' factor and teams from Cheshunt and Broxbourne wanting an easier journey to their matches. That has now put the Waltham Sunday League in jeopardy and a decision is going to have to be made soon as to whether enough current member clubs are still interested so that two divisions can be filled next season with a start of at least nine teams in each, and then hoping that another three or four new clubs will join (or even re-join...which is probably somewhat far-fetched !). The Waltham League have already started asking each Club Secretary for an honest answer, but for most clubs at the moment, and especially ourselves, it is very difficult to give one. The predicament we are faced with is that committing ourselves to the Waltham Sunday League for next season is a huge risk, because if they start with a nine-team division and then two or three of those teams drop out as soon as the season starts, there is no question that we will lose players through boredom (again) and next time it may well be fatal. As the League Website Secretary, I have been instructed to start advertising already for new clubs to join the League next season, but I am refusing to do so because the way things stand at the moment, that will be leading them up a blind alley. Imagine if four new clubs buy a load of equipment and commit themselves to the Waltham League for next season before the current (and new) 1st June deadline, then all of a sudden in September they are left playing in a six-team division with no way out into another League ? How cruel is that ?
There is no question that the Waltham League will have to go down to two divisions next season anyway, but in my opinion they need to start the season with 12 teams in the Premier Division and 13 in Division One in order to cope with all the teams who are inevitably going to fold at some stage during the season if recent history is anything to go by. If by some miracle hardly any teams do fold up, who cares if there are Double-Headers and midweek matches at the end of the season ? Surely that is better than not having a game every other week ? The East Herts Corinthian Sunday League did exactly that by starting the season with 12 teams in their Premier Division and 13 teams in each of their other three divisions, and although they have been fortunate that only two teams have dropped out during the season...one in the Premier and one in Division One...they still have plenty of teams left in each division and consequently less of a problem with teams failing to fulfil their fixtures because the players are kept more interested by facing different opponents every week and something worthwhile to play for at the end of the season instead of a League Title won on points being awarded or a passage straight through to a Cup Final from a load of Byes. I don't know the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League's rules and regulations as they do not have a downloadable handbook on their Full-Time website, but from speaking to one or two people who have played for or managed teams in that League, those rules and regulations are apparently very relaxed and teams are not fined for the same misdemeanours that they are in the Waltham Sunday League. Club Secretaries are also evidently greeted in a warm and friendly manner by the League Chairman/Secretary whereas a phone call to the Waltham Sunday League 'at the wrong time' can see Secretaries being treated the same way as a cold-caller trying to sell P.P.I. in the middle of Eastenders. (That is not my experience by the way as I always send an e-mail...which invariably causes even more problems !). It all creates a bad impression for potential new clubs though, and many people I have spoken to think that is the main reason why so many newly-formed clubs from Cheshunt and Broxbourne have joined the East Herts Corinthian League in preference to the Waltham League over the past five years or so. Maybe the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League do not insist on new clubs having their own bank account and evidence of the necessary kit and equipment having been purchased in advance either, which is what the Waltham League have always insisted on...in April ! Most people do not decide to start a club until July though. Then they contact a League. Then they find a sponsor to buy the kit and necessary equipment, which is quite often the Team Manager, and he pays for everything out of his own pocket. Even pitch fees if he can. No club bank account. Not at this level !

The Waltham League have certainly been trying to be less forceful with their rules in recent months in response to this threat of having to fold, but it may well be too late now. The League already has a reputation of being too strict. One example is where teams give up too easily and are not prepared to play if they have only got 10 men. The League have to fine them for that though, because if they didn't, teams would cry off every time they had key players missing and their opponents would then suffer from having a lack of income from players subs for playing in the match. The League do not re-imburse clubs for unused pitches resulting from a non-fulfilment (as far as I know), although it has been talked about. The problem here though is that the League fine clubs £50.00 if they have cried off on a Sunday morning due to only 10 players turning up, then that club ends up folding anyway because of the size of the fine. Teams non-fulfilling or dropping out is also killing clubs who pay the League their pitch fees in advance and don't get a refund for postponements, as would have happened to us had we still been hiring Hazelwood Sports Ground from Enfield Council. Although no teams have cried off against us on the morning of the match...where we would have still been charged by the Edmonton Sports & Social Club, we have still been lucky this season that we only pay when we use the pitch and if we know earlier in the week that we don't have a game, Norsemen Youth can then use the pitch instead.
The biggest problem the Waltham League faces in finding new clubs though, is that thanks to the increasing dominance of the East Herts Corinthian League, the catchment area it is left with now is the London Borough of Enfield instead of Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Waltham Abbey, but the Borough of Enfield already has four other adult mens' Sunday Leagues in the Edmonton Sunday League, the Barnet Sunday League (in which a lot of teams from the Borough of Enfield play), and the two Community Leagues, the Turkish Community Football Federation (based mainly at Pymmes Park in Upper Edmonton) and the Cypriot (KOPA) League, who use the available 3G artificial pitches in the Borough for a lot of their matches. There is a lot of choice for potential new Sunday League teams in the Borough of Enfield, particularly if you are of Greek Cypriot or Turkish origin, as many people are. The Waltham League have therefore considered asking 'other Leagues' if they would like to merge, so let's look at the problems with that then....
Firstly, that cannot be done with the Community Leagues because the purpose of those Leagues is to give priority to their own nationalities whereby only two (or three ?) non-Cypriot or non-Turkish players can be on the field of play for a team at any one time. Merging with the East Herts Corinthian League would mean that all the Waltham League's London, Essex & Middlesex-affiliated clubs would have to be kicked out unless they became Herts F.A.-affiliated and moved to play in Cheshunt or anywhere North of there, although in Youth football, the resident Sunday League club at our Home venue of the Edmonton Sports & Social Club, Norsemen Youth, have the majority of their teams all playing in the Mid-Herts Rural Minors League which covers the same area as the East Herts Corinthian League, so in theory, if that (Youth) League accepts teams from London, why can't the equivalent adult League ? However, Youth teams and their parents are more committed into travelling long distances to play because it's the whole family going up there to places like Buntingford and Stevenage. In adults football, the players need to get home quickly to see their families in the afternoons, so adult Sunday Leagues covering huge areas like that is never going to happen. Although some of our players might be happy to do it, there will be plenty of teams from Hertford and surrounding areas who will not want to come down to Edmonton. Similarly, a merger with the London FA-affiliated Edmonton Sunday League could result in all the Waltham League's Herts, Essex & Middlesex-affiliated clubs having to affiliate to the London FA instead...depending on which League ends up holding the most power from the merger. And there's the main problem. The Waltham League will undoubtedly want to invite the East Herts Corinthian, the Barnet and/or Edmonton Sunday Leagues to merge with them, but with our League's current senior officers still in charge ! No way will that ever happen though. Every League's senior officers will surely want to hang on to power. Although they have been rapidly losing teams as well and will probably only have two divisions each themselves next season (unless new clubs join during the Summer), the Barnet and Edmonton Leagues are not in as much danger of folding as the Waltham League is, so they will carry on and therefore get all the London & Middlesex-affiliated teams from the Waltham League when it folds because of desertions to the East Herts Corinthian League this Summer. That will then keep the Barnet & Edmonton Leagues with three divisions each.

In an ideal world we would like to stay in the Waltham League because the Away grounds we play at in that League are quite convenient for most of our players. The League also uses the FA's Full-Time technology which the Barnet and Edmonton Leagues do not, and there is no question that Full-Time is very useful when it is used properly. At the moment though, team line-ups and goalscorers from result cards are not being put on Full-Time until a Wednesday whereas the East Herts Corinthian League get that information online on a Sunday evening. The Waltham League are also prepared to use the online player registration form for next season that I recently created and tested on the League website for them. It all worked perfectly, including the 'selfie' passport-style photo. However, the League Registration Secretary then informed me that he doesn't have the software (or know-how to use such software if he had it) that can shrink the file size of the selfie photo enough to print it out as passport size on an A4 sheet of paper...and even if he did that, it would use up too much ink when he prints the sheet out to put in his A4 folder that he brings to matches in order to check for teams playing ringers. He therefore still needs proper printed passport photos to be supplied by players because he can then continue to stick them down on his blank A4 sheets Panini sticker-style and put them in his folder. The more logical way of doing player photo identifications in this day and age of course is to use software to crop the selfies to size, then create a table in a Word Document to enter each player's photo into (as one team per A4 page), save the Document as a PDF, load it into your smartphone or (preferably) a tablet and use that to identify players at matches by widening each image on the screen with your fingers. Apparently that is 'too fiddly' and would take longer though. Never mind how convenient it could be for the clubs. We then have another League Officer insisting that the F.A. still require players signatures, therefore making the online registration form & uploaded selfie photo unusable. So what they are going to do now (if the League survives into next season) is use the online form to get the player's details...even up to 10:29 on the day of a match, but then the player has to post a proper passport photo to the League Registration Secretary within 7 days with his printed name, club name and signature all written on the back otherwise his team will lose the points and be fined £50.00 for that match he played in where he turned up at the last minute to register for a team who would have only been fielding 10 men otherwise. Of course the player will need extremely minuscule handwriting to fit all that on the back of his photo, and even then, the League Registration Secretary may not be able to read that handwriting. Consequently even more teams will leave the League (if it is still in existence) because of the continuing difficulties in getting players registered and the hefty fines if they don't. That (and the late uploading of the result cards on Full-Time) is not the only grumble we as a club are going to have if we stay in the Waltham League next season though. At the last League Management Committee Meeting, I presented a proposed rule change on behalf of the club where we asked for the Club Linesman rule to be altered so that Referees could decide whether they wanted to use them or not rather than being forced into using them whereby clubs are currently fined £5.00 if they do not comply. The Committee voted against the rule amendment but agreed to scrap the £5.00 fine, so that now means Referees who want Club Linesmen will leave the League because clubs will ignore the rule, while Referees who don't want Club Linesmen won't join because of the rule...leaving the League with no Referees ! Half of them have apparently already walked out in recent weeks anyway because they don't want the hassle of doing the paperwork from having to send players off from all the abuse they have been getting this season ...which is mainly because they keep over-ruling or ignoring Club Linesmen when they see them 'cheating' and/or having a fag and looking at their mobile phones. As it happens, our ex-Manager and legal expert Trevor Hughes has since looked at Rule 20 in the League handbook which says if you propose a rule amendment by the 1st March (as we did), the League Secretary must then send it to all clubs by the 15th March for amendments to be made by 31st March. It is then circulated with the Notice of AGM to be voted on by the clubs. As far as Trevor is concerned, the Management Committee had no right to put it to the vote at their meeting and throw the proposal out themselves. There is also still the problem of the League refusing to use online payments and insisting that cheques are still written out and posted. How inconvenient is that for Club Secretaries in this day and age, not to mention the ridiculous rising cost of stamps !? ...and I still have no idea why a Cup Rule 12 teamsheet has to be manually completed (including Date Of Births) for all Cup Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals when all the necessary information is on Full-Time using a couple of mouse clicks or finger taps. (See picture right).

So that's the problems with the Waltham League then, but what about the Barnet Sunday League and the Edmonton Sunday League ? Well the Barnet Sunday League (and the Edmonton Sunday League as far as I know) evidently do not use Club Linesmen, so that's good, and we would therefore not have to worry about Rule 20 in the Waltham League handbook if we joined one of those Leagues instead. The Barnet League also allow clubs to enter County Cups and there will be no problem with us being London FA-affiliated and playing in Edmonton. Some of their member clubs do play in Mill Hill, but our East London-based players have so far said that they are willing to make the 45-minute journey on the way there and probable 90-minute journey on the way back. However, the Barnet Sunday League merged with both the North London & South Herts Sunday League and the Hendon Sunday League about 5 years ago and have still rapidly lost clubs and divisions, so that is a worrying sign. I have heard that their ageing Committee embrace modern technology even less than the Waltham League do, and the Edmonton Sunday League are the same. It's still cheques, postage, and manual filling in of registration forms I'm afraid, amongst other things. Also, neither League uses Full-Time and they also have massive problems with waterlogged pitches. The Edmonton Sunday League will apparently allow us to play at the Edmonton Sports & Social Club and enter the London FA Sunday Junior Cup, but if we do so, we will not be able to play in their Supplementary Cups, which is a competition they run to make sure every team has a game every week and something I recommended to the Waltham League for implementation for Season 2016-2017. That sounds fair enough to me though. The Edmonton Sunday League Secretary nowadays is John Mills, an old friend of myself and Trevor's from when we used to regularly play against his team Crescent in our previous spell as an Edmonton Sunday League club between 1977 to 1984. I'm sure he would be delighted to see us return, but not so the League Treasurer Ken Martin, as it was he (in his previous role as League Secretary) who expelled our Reserve Team from the League in 1984 and banned Trevor and the late Glenn Weaver for 'life', thereby resulting in me pulling the First Team out in protest. I am not banned though, and as the Edmonton Sunday League were a pirate non-affiliated League in those days, that ban is not recognised by the F.A. anyway, so he cannot really stop us re-joining. With the Edmonton Sunday League (or indeed any Sunday League with teams from the rougher parts of the Boroughs of Enfield & Haringey) there is always going to be a fear of violence from players who are 'nu-skool postcode gangtas' of course, but that is no different from the 'old school pub gangsters' we used to encounter playing in that League back in the 70's and early-80's. I very much doubt if anything nowadays is worse than what we encountered in the now long-defunct Haringey & Tottenham Sunday League back in the mid/late-1980's. Now that really was brutal !

Another option we have looked at is various Sunday Leagues in East London and Essex and also the Camden Sunday League, which strangely has every team playing 'miles away' at Hackney Marshes' North Marsh....and no team is allowed to play anywhere else ! The Hackney & Leyton Sunday League also have the same rule, while all the other Leagues in that area do not accept teams like ourselves who play to the west of the River Lea. So, for next season it's either the Waltham League, the Barnet League or the Edmonton League for us, and we have got until the 31st March to make our mind up. At the moment it is one heck of a difficult decision.

Adults Sunday League football is certainly going through a bit of a strange period at the moment. Just this week the F.A. have announced that they will be funding a 'Four-Year Pitch Improvement Programme' to help local Councils cut the grass and improve drainage on parks 11-a-side pitches. They also have some sort of offer of giving £1,500 to any new 11-a-side team that wants to start up and join a League, thereby paying for their initial kit, nets, balls & pitch fees amongst other things. Most of those prospective new teams in our area will probably try to find a pitch in Cheshunt so that they can join the East Herts Corinthian League of course, and the Waltham, Barnet & Edmonton Leagues probably won't get anybody (for the reasons I have already given in this blog). At the same time though, the F.A. have also announced a new idea (to start in September) called 'Flexible Football' where they are encouraging players to form new 11-a-side teams where they only have to play when they want to because of work and family commitments. Obviously in the current climate of numerous players being unable to play for teams like us every week, that idea is going to appeal massively, and there is no doubt whatsoever in my opinion that if it takes off, it will cause the demise of the Waltham League and quite possibly one or both of the Barnet and Edmonton Leagues as well. The plan is to play all the matches on 3G pitches at any time and any day or evening, including during the Summer, but still on a League basis, albeit very informal with no Home & Away matches and only 5 or 6 games a 'season'...with a season just being a three-month period. The next 'season' then starts the following week with different teams who are all matched on ability and the days and times they would prefer to play. They will use qualified Referees (but no Club Linesmen), roll-on, roll-off subs, and the F.A. will provide each team with numbered bibs to wear instead of proper kit. Unlike our League and the others run by 'old farts in blazers' in their 70's, all administration will be done online, very much like Powerleague is for 5-a-side. The only catch that might put some players off is that the matches are only of 60 minutes duration instead of 90...which suggests no offsides ? If this 'Flexible Football' has a rule whereby players cannot register to play in it if they are already registered with a proper team like ourselves who play in a competitive 90-minute League, then clearly that is going to be disastrous for us, as players who have frequent work and family commitments will choose to play 'Flexible Football' instead. Our only hope is that it is more expensive to play in than our current £7.00 per match.
One final thing to note for our players who were asking 'what happens to the £33,000 the Waltham Sunday League has in the bank if the League folds ?', well it's apparently only £28,000 now, but it all goes into the FA's Benevolent Fund for retired ex-professionals who have fallen on hard times. We will not get a penny I'm afraid.

0

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Sunday 10th January 2016

At the time of my last Chairman's Blog in November there were eight teams in our Division in the Waltham Sunday League, but that has since gone down to six following the withdrawal of both Sporting Enfield (due to a lack of money) and BBFC (due to player injuries), while another team is currently suspended (at the time of writing) because they have not paid the League their pitch fees. On top of that, another team turned up with only 10 men for their last match and then failed to field a side the following week, while we ourselves have only just managed to scrape up a bare eleven for our last three matches played. Even second-placed Old Pond Athletic conceded their last match because they felt their pitch was unplayable but the Referee and the groundsman didn't ! Teams in Division One are already having to play each other three times in order to ensure they have enough fixtures this season, and when Sporting Enfield and BBFC both dropped out, the League then asked the remaining six Division One clubs if they wanted to play each other four times. We were one of four teams who said no because we felt that would be boring, and instead I suggested to the League that they look at introducing a Supplementary Cup competition whereby any team who did not have a game on a particular Sunday played a team from a different division, thereby giving them the chance to play teams they had quite likely never played before. At the end of the season, the team finishing top of the Supplementary Cup 'Mini-League' on a percentage record would win a trophy as long as they had played a minimum of three matches. It was a system that worked well for the Edmonton Sunday League when we were in that League back in the 1970's and early-80's, although they did have the advantage of pitch availability every week because they block-book whole venues such as Firs Farm, Church Street Rec and the Barrass Surround for the whole season and teams are 'not allowed' to play anywhere else. That is not the case for the Waltham League due to Broxbourne and Enfield Councils giving them different pitches every other Sunday instead of the same pitch every week, this being the main reason that every team has at least three weeks per season on average without a match being arranged. The way it currently works (and has done for years) is that one week the League have 7 or 8 Council pitches available for only 5 matches that require them, then the following week they only have 2 or 3 Council pitches available for another 5 matches that require them...and so it goes on like that all season. Teams like ourselves who use private pitches on an alternate week basis with teams from other Leagues also come into the equation when they are all booked in at their venues to play at Home on the same alternate weeks throughout the season. There is little that can be done about that. It's just sod's law and it's a nightmare for the League Fixture Secretary. However, one idea to get round that pitch availability problem and give teams a game when their divisions have been reduced to just six teams is to have an Inter-League 'Supplementary Cup/Mini-League' with other local Leagues who have also had teams dropping out once the season has started. The Hackney & Leyton Sunday League have already been doing this for the past three seasons in conjunction with three other Inner London Sunday Leagues whereby specific teams from each League who have a shortage of fixtures once it gets to November are allowed to enter. However, I suspect it would be unlikely that our League would be able to liaise with the East Herts Corinthian, Barnet, Edmonton, KOPA and Turkish Community League Committees in order to arrange something like that. That has always been one of the problems with adults Sunday League football where Leagues are very suspicious of one another because they think they are trying to poach each others' clubs. Officers from those Leagues and ours never speak to each other. They all want to be secretive and exclusive in the way their Leagues are run. They would view an Inter-League 'Supplementary Cup' as some sort of merger and there would be all sorts of arguments about which League actually does the administration of the competition. Of course the main consideration should be helping clubs to actually survive by giving them fixtures and keeping players interested, but unfortunately I suspect a 'power struggle' between those Leagues and ours will prevent that from happening.

As a result of my suggestions though, the League have now decided that they need my input back on the Committee (as the League Website Secretary) despite my resignation from doing that job some five years ago following criticism I received back then from the other Officers that I was only doing the website to enhance my own business profile and 'make money out of the League'. Issues had also arisen back then from me receiving the minutes of League meetings and having to correct the grammatical and spelling errors before putting certain items on the website, thereby leading to accusations of me having my own agenda and 'trying to take over the League' because I had altered the original wording. When the League's current Minutes Secretary Gemma Hanlon resigned at the end of the December after encountering similar criticism for allegedly 're-wording' the minutes, I was extremely reluctant to come back on board and face the same problems again myself, but with the League now in a perilous position where teams are folding (or joining the East Herts Corinthian League) in their droves and very few new teams are interested in joining, I realised I was faced with no choice because Edmonton Rovers will more than likely have no League to play in if the Waltham Sunday League folds. We cannot go in the East Herts Corinthian League because we play in London, we cannot re-join the Edmonton Sunday League because we were expelled from that League back in the 1980's and the League Officer responsible is still involved, and there is no real point going in the Barnet Sunday League because they look to be in just as much trouble as the Waltham League is in terms of clubs folding. I have been given assurances by the other Waltham League Officers that this time they will have no objections to me inadvertently 'making money out of the League' because one of the many suggestions I made at the League Management Committee meeting I attended on the 8th January was for local colleges to be approached with a view to their media students undertaking a 'Waltham Sunday League TV' project as part of their coursework whereby they would film matches (in addition to myself of course) and do interviews and features on certain aspects of the League for a specially-created League You Tube channel. This would all be done at no cost to the League and it would advertise both the College's course and the League at the same time. It is very much the 'in-thing' now for Non-League clubs to have such a setup, so why can't it be done for an actual League ? It would surely have far more of an impact in attracting new clubs to the League than the originally-intended (and costly) printed newspaper adverts idea that was mentioned at the meeting, which was something myself (and one or two other Club Secretaries who were present) quickly dismissed as a total waste of time. Making use of numerous local Community Facebook pages such as Love Your Doorstep TV (and others) to advertise the League is far more beneficial in this day and age when most people aged between 18-35 read the 'news' on the internet rather than in a printed paper. Indeed more use of the League's own Facebook page is badly needed because it is seriously lacking in content at the moment. The KOPA League actually send a photographer/reporter out to every game in their League. They take team photos, action shots and file a brief report of what happened in the match and then post it on their Facebook page. Why can't our League do something similar every Sunday to keep clubs interested and encourage new clubs to join ? Just featuring one team a week is good enough. I find it incredible that the League has not properly publicised the fact that well-known ex-professionals such as Fitz Hall and Patrick Agyemang are currently playing in our League. Surely it would encourage more players to play in the knowledge that they could face players of that calibre rather than the 'pot-bellied glory hunters' that are typically portrayed as Sunday morning footballers. When we first started playing at Hazelwood Sports Ground in our Haringey League days back in 1985 we were on Pitch Two. Two teams from the Brooke Waltham League (as it was then known) used Pitch One, as those were the days when the League had 10 divisions and covered a much wider area stretching right down into Wood Green and Muswell Hill. The late Ralph Coates (ex-Spurs midfielder from the 1970's) was playing for one of the Away teams on one occasion at Hazelwood. I don't know who that team were, but that wasn't publicised either, albeit only because there was no internet back then and you had to drive up to Cheshunt to buy a copy of the Cheshunt & Waltham Mercury in order to find out. Nobody in Enfield sold the paper. The late Roy Bailey (the League Chairman at the time) worked for the Mercury and did a whole page on the League every Thursday/Friday with each result printed separately with the goalscorers underneath together with a brief report on EVERY match...pretty much like the KOPA League do now on their Facebook page, but our League now do nothing of the sort, mainly because most clubs can't be arsed to write/send in their own reports and they get little encouragement to do so. Not that the Mercury (or any other media) are allowed to print much anyway, as a heck of a lot of what goes on in our League is 'top secret', especially when a match is abandoned or postponed. There have been 3 or 4 abandonments already this season with no explanation on Full-Time as to why, and also a lot of postponements where it just says 'result pending' on Full-Time, then all of a sudden a month later, one of the teams ends up gaining three points in the League Table without anybody being informed publicly as to why that has happened.  Up until 5 years ago, the League were allowed to throw clubs out for causing abandonments or failing to fulfil their fixtures more than twice during the course of a season, but the FA (as opposed to a County FA because the Waltham League is directly FA-affiliated) then changed the rules to stop that happening...only they never throw clubs out themselves. My idea with the Waltham League TV You Tube channel would be to at least ask some questions of what is going on. Surely the necessary Officer(s) could then at least give some explanations to nip any nasty rumours in the bud, while also publicising the League at the same time ? When BBFC were on the verge of folding up due to a lack of players, Waltham League TV would have publicised that fact and helped them to attract new players to keep the club going.
Another idea of mine that the Officers finally agreed upon at the January meeting...no doubt because of panic that the League might fold if they didn't...was in looking to implement an on-the-day-of-the-match online player registration system, thereby falling in line with a number of other Leagues who had introduced such a system during the past couple of seasons. With my League website being brought back, it is now possible to create an online form on there (similar to this booking form on my business website) whereby new players can turn up to a match and then tap in their name, address, date of birth and the club name on their smartphone and attach a selfie photo from that same smartphone, then click on the 'Submit' button before the kick-off to immediately send the form and photo to the League Registration Secretary's e-mail inbox. The 'Submit' button prints the time of the submission on the form, so if it is before 10.30.a.m., then the player is registered to play in the match. If after the match it comes to light that the player is suspended or registered with another club, the match is then awarded to the opposition...and I would suggest the offending club is NOT fined, because in normal circumstances the player would be flagged up by the League Registration Secretary before the match as being ineligible. At least the match has been played, which is the main consideration, as previously it would have been called off as a non-fulfilment from one team not having enough players or from League Officials doing a spot-check before the kick-off and finding a team attempting to play a ringer, both of which currently result in heavy fines which invariably end up contributing to a team's eventual demise. Most clubs in our League encounter a situation during the course of a season where they have eleven or more players available at the time of the League's current registration deadline of 6.00.p.m. on a Friday evening but then end up with having only 10 (or even less) registered players available by the time it gets to 10.00.a.m. on a Sunday morning. If this new idea works and gets implemented it will help us enormously, as we have numerous ex-players who are members of our club Facebook Group but are not currently registered. We would put a message on there for someone to come along and help out as soon as we know we are short, and it will be ideal for them if they knew they didn't have to meet up three days before the match to sign a printed registration form and give me their own printed photo. Danny Green is a perfect example of that. We still haven't got him signed up to play in emergencies for us this season like he has done in the past because he now lives in Hoddesdon and we just don't see him during the week. We would even be able to say to a bloke walking his dog across the pitch (or letting it crap in the 6-yard box and piss on the goalpost) 'Ere mate, d'ya fancy a game ?'...as we did back in 1978, albeit 'illegally' back then, which is where we got 'Overington's Mate' from ! (See the bottom of the All-Time First Team Appearances list). In addition to it being a benefit to the clubs, the League Registration Secretary would no longer have to suffer players knocking on his front door just after pub chucking-out time to give him a printed registration form and/or proper passport-booth printed photo, he won't have to cut the registration form in half himself, and he won't have to guess on the correct spelling of names and addresses where numerous Club Secretaries have even scruffier handwriting than our own Terry Moore ! Having said that, the predictive text function on smartphones is bound to cause a problem when players don't have time to check that before they tap on the submit button at 10.29.a.m., but hopefully we can find a way round that ?! These ideas will more than likely be implemented for the start of next season, but it is possible that the on-the-day-of-the-match online player registration form might be tested before then with Danny Green as a guinea pig. Some of his Norsemen 3rd XI team-mates will probably say he looks like one too !

Of course none of the Waltham League Officers read these Chairman's Blogs (as far as I am aware), and I did not have time at the recent Committee meeting to air my views that we are no longer going to get any teams joining from the East Herts Corinthian League or indeed have any more newly-formed clubs from Cheshunt & Broxbourne joining, simply because time is of the essence nowadays and players who live in Cheshunt northwards do not want to get stuck in traffic on their way home from matches in Palmers Green & Edmonton or spend time queuing to get out of the Donkey Lane car park at Enfield Playing Fields. This is also why so many players are giving up playing at Step 4-7 level on a Saturday and playing Sunday morning football instead. They want to be home in 10 minutes after their match, so they play in the League where the majority of matches are  most local to where they live. If the Waltham League had not scrapped my League website and not started calling itself the Waltham Football League instead of the Waltham Sunday League five years ago when the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League only had two divisions with a total of 15 teams, I am convinced that the East Herts Corinthian League would not have survived and the Waltham Sunday League would now have 5 or 6 divisions with something like 90% of the clubs being based in the East Herts area. Players who are now playing in the East Herts Corinthian League would probably accept the odd game in Edmonton, Palmers Green or at Enfield Playing Fields with that ratio, but not with the current ratio of Waltham League matches being almost 50/50 between pitches in the boroughs of Enfield and Broxbourne...or at least it will be next season when even more teams from the Waltham League join the East Herts Corinthian League because the venues used in that League are closer to home for most of their players. The problem the Waltham League has in being left with just the Borough of Enfield as a catchment area though is the continued presence of those four other Leagues that are based in or predominantly include teams from the Borough, namely the Barnet, Edmonton, KOPA and the Turkish Community Leagues. None of those Leagues are going to fold up any time soon, and our League rarely attract any more than one or two teams from the Barnet or Edmonton Leagues per season. That will not be enough to stop our League from going down to just two divisions next season, and the only hope after that is that the on-the-day registrations and the Waltham Sunday League TV ideas have some effect in attracting more teams to the League for the season after that.

As for our own problems since my last Chairman's Blog, our first match following Manager Simon Jackson's resignation and Terry Moore's appointment as Caretaker-Manager for the rest of the season was at Home to Hackney & Leyton Sunday League Division One leaders Birkbeck Orient in the Second Round of the London FA Sunday Junior Cup on the 15th November. We were fortunate to beat a quality side in Club Lixus in the First Round, but we had clearly been given a rough draw in this competition as Birkbeck Orient were another very good side and we went out of the competition with a 3-1 defeat. To be honest, we were lucky it wasn't by a bigger margin as we fielded a seriously depleted side and were no real match for them. Before the game I had created a new page here on the website for all our London F.A. Sunday Cup results since we first entered their competitions back in 1988, with the notable teams we had played being highlighted in yellow. We actually have a very good record of beating or losing narrowly to top Premier Division teams from other Leagues compared to the poor results of most other Waltham League teams against such quality opposition in County Cup competitions...Upshire and Enfield Rangers being the only real exceptions. Teams from our League whose affiliated County make it optional to enter invariably choose not to do so because they don't fancy the travelling and are worried about playing teams from 'dodgy areas', particularly the London F.A.-affiliated teams. We love it though, and we have always enjoyed playing teams from other Leagues as it makes a nice change. We have come up against a lot of Community clubs in our time and it's like playing a mini World Cup or Champions League tournament. We have never encountered any problems against these teams and it's a shame that other teams from our League do not participate.
Due to four of our fixtures being called off for waterlogged pitches together with the usual Christmas break where no games are arranged, we have only played three matches since that London Cup defeat, all in Division One, and we were extremely fortunate that we just about managed to scrape up a bare eleven for all of them. We were fined £5.00 for having nobody available to run the line for one of them (when we lost 3-0 Away to Old Pond Athletic), but thankfully the League Referees Secretary Bob Cleary helped us out for our other two matches by agreeing to run the line for us in order to check on the Referee's performance as part of his job. As I predicted in my last Chairman's Blog, our former Manager Trevor Hughes was indeed left to stand all alone on our touchline with nobody to talk to while he was over here from Cyprus to watch our match against The Sheaf at Enfield Playing Fields on the 6th December, but at least he was treated to an excellent performance as our bare eleven won 2-0 against all the odds with new signing Sam Benjamin having an outstanding debut, while stand-in goalkeeper Alan Barnard also performed heroics. That put us in a good mood for our next match a couple of weeks later Away to Evolution, but we still turned up with just a bare eleven whereas they were fielding a full squad of 14 very good players. We subsequently lost 4-0 and we have probably been fortunate that we have not played since then, as it is becoming very evident that a number of our current players really do not want to play any more. Some of them have admitted that they are only still turning up to help us out until the end of the season as they do not want to see the club fold before then, but others are deciding to work a lot more on Sundays now because they need the money and they are also disillusioned with our poor results, the boredom of playing the same opponents every week, and particularly the frequent postponements due to bad weather.
In addition to that, we have had a large number of players missing because of genuine long-term injuries or not wanting to play because of niggling injuries which they don't want to aggravate. The biggest loss is undoubtedly skipper Danny Hagan, who now needs a knee operation and has been told by his Doctor/physio to give up playing the game completely once he recovers, which will not be until next season anyway. We also have players simply saying 'Sorry. Unavailable', presumably until further notice, and others missing matches just because it is a friend or relative's birthday. Fair enough if that birthday gathering is a long distance to travel and the player needs to set out for that in the morning, but if it's local, why does it have to be all-day ? I always thought the idea of playing Sunday morning football instead of Saturday afternoons was that it enabled players to keep themselves fit by playing in the morning and then having the whole afternoon and evening for family and social commitments ? Missing matches because it is somebody’s birthday certainly NEVER happens in Sunday morning YOUTH football, and I strongly suspect that if we were playing every week and winning every week we would not have a problem.

As for the incessant rain over the past seven weeks, that has clearly caused us a problem at the Edmonton Sports & Social Club, as our pitch has been unplayable over there for our last three scheduled Home games, although we have been extremely unlucky in that every time we have been due to play at Home it has 'chucked it down' on a Saturday afternoon/evening, leaving the groundsman with no option but to call off all the pitches in order to prevent them from being ruined for the rest of the season. Other private grounds used by clubs in our League do not care about their pitches though. They seemingly just want the money and are letting games go ahead on quagmires. At least the Edmonton Sports & Social Club do not charge us if a game is called off due to the pitch being unfit, unlike Enfield Council used to do when we played at Hazelwood Sports Ground. It is interesting to note that nobody has been sharing our old pitch at Hazelwood with St. Mary's this season ...probably due to the cost ?!...as there was actually grass in the Cowshed End goalmouth when I strolled over there recently on one of the mornings when we had a game postponed. The grass was still too long, but the pitch was flat and ironically in much better condition than it was last season. However, the heavy overnight rain had made it very soft, and although Enfield Council had not called it off waterlogged, the pitch would have been churned up badly for the rest of the season had it been played on. That is what frequently happened at Hazelwood during the past 2 or 3 seasons whenever it rained heavily on a Saturday or overnight into Sunday morning, and it was because Enfield Council no longer do weekend pitch inspections and neither do Broxbourne Council. Subsequently all their pitches used by the League at Enfield Playing Fields and Wormley Playing Fields are now getting churned up again because unlike at Hazelwood they are being used every week. The Edmonton Sports & Social Club are at least being more sensible, and that should help us later on in the season by playing Home games on flat pitches.

Our biggest worry at the moment though is whether we are going to have enough players for the rest of this season and whether we can find somebody to be Manager next season. The situation at the moment is that we only currently have nine players available to play more-or-less every week, then another seven who will play when they are not working (which is normally about once every three weeks) or when we have less than eleven. However, Eric Ibekwem and Scott Jenkins are hoping to return from injury at some stage before the season ends and I'm sure we can find maybe one or two new players from somewhere to boost the squad back up to about 12-14 regulars. I am fairly confident that we will be able to see the season through without having to 'non-fulfil' any of our fixtures, and of course we could easily reach the League Intermediate Cup Final again as we only have a Semi-Final to play thanks to teams dropping out.

As for next season though, we most certainly have a big problem as Caretaker-Manager Terry Moore is definitely retiring due to family commitments and a number of other players will be doing likewise for that reason or because of constant injuries. As we will still be based at the Edmonton Sports & Social Club, I would like to think that we won't have a problem in attracting players to play for us. It's the route we go down for Management and Coaching that is going to be a massive decision. Do we try and get an ex-Rovers player to do it ? They would still have to be based locally of course, and I'm sure Garry Cover for one  would jump at the chance to do it, but what a risk that would be ?!!! He would also miss a lot of matches when Spurs are at Home on Sundays though, so that wouldn’t really be any good. I have already tried ex-Rovers players who are currently involved with Youth Teams who are approaching adult football age, but it appears that the trend nowadays is for players who are not on the books of Pro or Semi-Pro clubs to just give up playing 11-a-side completely once they reach 18, so the chances of a Manager coming in with a squad of maybe eleven Under-18's with those of our current players who want to stay next season then integrating with them are very remote, although I have asked a local Youth League to put the word around just in case. We really do need to get back to what we had in the early-1990's when Conor McGovern, the Dorwards, the Beasleys, the Beedens and others all joined when they were in their late teens and we successfully went up the divisions to eventually finish third in the Premier Division. Those players all socialised with each other off the pitch and that had a massive effect. Another option is to appoint an outsider as Manager again, who this time would need to either bring in 80% of his own players or use 80% of our existing players, and not the 50/50 split that was attempted last time which clearly didn't work. If that outsider was a well-known ex-professional, then I think that would be a very good option. Unfortunately though, I suspect the most likely scenario is that I will end up having to be Manager, Secretary, Club Linesman and possibly even Treasurer myself with a squad consisting of just 5 or 6 of our current players plus numerous new players from random sources who will invariably be people who have never played 11-a-side before (because we will have got them from the new Powerleague down the road), people who cannot get a game with other teams because they are not good enough, and ex-Semi-Pros who are too old and unfit to play at that level any more but still expect to play for us without having to pay any subs. I will then not be able to film the matches any more, and although it is quite possible that I might do a better job as Manager than some of the others who have tried recently because the absence of the camera will deflate our opponents, there is no doubt whatsoever that players not paying their subs will be an increasing problem, and that it is more likely the club will fold for that reason at some stage next season bearing in mind I have no money to put into the club myself whereas our past four Managers all either donated equipment or paid money up front to help with pitch fee payments. We will then be like several other clubs in our League who are basically a one-man-band in terms of their Manager also being the Secretary and Treasurer, and who fold up as soon as that person's own money runs out as a result of players only wanting to play for him if they don’t have to pay to play. That’s the way that adults Sunday League football is going at the moment, and it’s one of the main reasons why so many clubs are folding up. A big sponsorship deal would solve all our problems of course. Unfortunately I did not win the ‘record rollover lottery’ last night though.

0

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Tuesday 10th November 2015

At the time of my last Chairman's Blog at the end of September we had won three out of our four competitive matches this season, with the last of those fixtures seeing us beat a very good Club Lixus side in the First Round of the London FA Sunday Junior Cup. We were therefore looking forward to our Home League match against Division One leaders Evolution the following week as we knew that a win against them would put us top of the table ourselves, but despite Evolution turning up with an understrength side, we still managed to lose 3-2 even though we created twice as many chances as them. We did manage to gain a point with a 1-1 draw at Home to Sporting Enfield in our next match, but we then had a bit of a 'meltdown' the following week when we travelled to Wormley Playing Fields to take on newly-promoted Goffs Athletic, who had by then taken over from Evolution at the top of the table. First of all, due to the usual Sunday morning engineering works shutting down 'forward' Leon Bernard and goalkeeper Grant Baker's usual railway line to their regular meeting place with Assistant Manager Terry Moore from their homes in Ilford in order to get a lift up to Wormley, five players (i.e. those three plus two others who needed a lift) turned up just 10 minutes before the kick-off and were still getting changed and were probably not listening properly while Manager Simon Jackson was doing his team-talk...in which he was telling us to play three at the back for the first time under his leadership. With those five players also missing the warm-up, we were just not prepared enough and found ourselves in disarray at the back right from the start with us being lucky to only be one goal behind at the break even though Goffs Athletic had scored from all three of their shots on target. Goalkeeper Baker had already mentioned before the kick-off that he had a hamstring injury though and that he might have to come off at Half-Time and indeed he did, leaving Manager Jacko to go in goal for the Second Half where his even worse lack of fitness saw Goffs Athletic kill the game off within five minutes as they made it 5-2 with simple finishes from Jacko's mistakes. At that stage they had scored five goals from five shots on target ! We did still create plenty of chances with even Alan Barnard scoring a rare goal to make the final score 5-3, but it was a disastrous day and Jacko was most definitely not amused...and neither was I afterwards. That was because Jacko instructed me not to put the highlights on You Tube because of the 'humiliation' of our defeat, which of course included him letting in two 'howlers', but more specifically because of players 'blatantly' ignoring his instructions by getting themselves involved in non-stop verbals and wind-ups with their opponents all match instead of concentrating on their football and to let him deal with any 'complaints' that needed to be made to the Referee... i.e. getting himself sent off from the touchline if necessary rather than us going down to 10 men. Not that our Referee for that match has ever sent off or even booked anybody before in any of the 12 games he has officiated us in over the last four seasons. He just says 'Stop It' and 'Cut It Out' to players if anything gets out of hand...and that's it ! Of course once Jacko had to go in goal for the Second Half, that idea went out of the window anyway and it was our substitutes on the touchline who then had a free-for-all in complaining at the Referee's decisions and hurling abuse at Goffs Athletic's players, their Club Linesmen and their many supporters on the far touchline, who of course all responded in kind. On the video, all you can hear is a cacophony of obscene language that was far worse than anything the legendary Stafford Dyer used to come up with back in the late-1980's and early-90's on our 'Out-Takes' videos, although the verbals were very similar in so much as our players (and especially our substitutes on the touchline) calling theirs 'Cheshunt Chavs' and their players responding likewise with comments about us being a predominantly black team from Edmonton & Tottenham. Admittedly some of it was just 'banter', but it was impossible to edit out of the video as it happened every time a goal was scored. There was no way I could put highlights of this match online for public viewing as we would have been in serious trouble with the Football Association had I done so. What annoyed me about that was the fact that I now get an average of around 400 views for each match where highlights are put on You Tube, and when we are playing a team we have never faced before (as Goffs Athletic were), that figure invariably increases to the 500 mark. Out of those 500 there will be a number of potential new customers for my business in hiring my services to film other matches, particularly Cup Finals. Subsequently I cannot afford to keep making certain match highlights private for Rovers club members only just because we (or Jacko as an individual) have made fools of ourselves by throwing away a match through indiscipline and making silly mistakes because half our players are playing with scrambled brains. The problems in this match all started half-way through the First Half, and as I have argued in these Chairman's Blogs before, it was all because of the Waltham League's rule that Club Linesmen must be used. The Goffs Athletic Linesman on the far side was one of their substitutes who I suspect did not want to do the job, while we had the same situation ourselves with Leon McKenzie-McKay having to run the line for us only because he was the least likely to be used from our four outfield substitutes due to an injury. When the Goffs Athletic Lino 'wrongly' flagged Daniel Daley offside in the 32nd minute, it started off all the usual 'You f***ing cheating c***'-type comments that happen in virtually every Sunday League match where Club Linesmen are used, so of course the Goffs Lino replied back with some choice comments of his own and everything just snowballed from there and went on for the rest of the match. Every time either Leon or their Lino (who appeared to be their Manager in the Second Half when their first one was brought on as a substitute) flagged for an offside or even the ball going out of play, they were challenged by a torrent of abuse from the opposing players and substitutes/supporters on both touchlines. Meanwhile, Jacko was 'stewing' in goal, as he could do nothing about it from there. He then gave Goffs Athletic only 2 out of 10 for Fair Play after the match and I was amazed they didn't give us likewise. They actually awarded us an 8, but maybe that was because they won, so the verbals didn't bother them ?
The following week we were back at Home as we took on Old Pond Athletic, who were actually the First Team for Goffs Athletic last season. However, this time our appointed Referee decided to go against the League's rules and not use Club Linesmen at all because he has the same belief as myself that if they are either the Team Manager or players who have been named as substitutes, they will just automatically be branded as cheats by their opponents and all it does is create hostility. Although matches are played in the AFA Leagues on Saturdays without Linesmen and with the players all respecting the Referee's judgement, Old Pond's players didn't seem to agree with that because their tactics were to play the offside trap against our pacy forwards and of course there were several occasions where the Referee had to guess and then decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the likes of Lexton Harrison, Daniel Daley & Ryan Bates....who then all went on to squander numerous clear-cut chances in a 4-0 defeat that was a total freak result on the balance of play, especially as we had twice as many shots as our opponents and seven corners to their two. I don't know what mark Old Pond must have given the Referee, but I suspect it was a low one whereby they had to 'report him', as the League have since had a Management Committee Meeting where this match was discussed. Despite both ourselves and Old Pond giving each other 10 out of 10 for Fair Play because there were no Club Linesmen to verbally abuse, the League clearly did not take that into account because the minutes from that meeting are strictly ordering all clubs to comply with the League rule whereby Club Linesmen must be provided and clubs who do not comply will be fined. The reason for the League's stance on this is because the new League Referees Secretary Bob Cleary is a qualified Referee who ran the line regularly for his (now defunct) club Oakwood United for many years, so obviously he is going to be offended if Club Linesmen are branded as potential cheats and done away with. I can see where he is coming from here, but he was not Oakwood United's Manager (as far as I am aware) and he ran the line wearing a qualified Assistant Referee's jacket, so he immediately gained the respect of the opposing players because of that. My argument though, as I said in my last Chairman's Blog...and surely the most sensible option, is that it should be left up to the Referee to decide on whether Club Linesmen are used or not. If both teams have a competent and regular non-playing Club Linesman, then clearly it is not a problem and the Referee should use them. However, if one or both teams only have substitutes or supporters on the line who just want to have a chat with their mates, have a fag (or some other substance) and check their mobile phone every other minute...which is normally the case in adults Sunday League football...then we are better off not using them at all and letting the Referee decide on offsides and the ball going out of play. I would much rather be filming an excellent sporting match such as we had against Old Pond than the 'nasty and spiteful' one we had against Goffs Athletic. The scorelines were irrelevant. Ironically, due to the reduction in the number of teams playing adult mens Sunday football in and around the London area in recent years, quite a few Sunday Leagues now have a surplus of Referees so they actually appoint official Assistant Referees to all their Premier Division matches. Our League do have a 100% coverage of Referees to matches this season but they do not have enough to start appointing official Assistant Referees, while there is also the problem of it being an additional cost for the clubs as Assistant Referees are paid £23.00 each (according to the League handbook). For the rest of this season then, because of the Club Linesman rule being enforced, we (and I dare say a number of other clubs) are going to be faced with the same old situation where players are going to drop out on the morning of the match if they have an inkling that they might be a substitute...or alternatively they will deliberately turn up after the kick-off if they know they are going to be a substitute so that somebody else gets lumbered with running the line, while injured players will dare not come along to watch in case they get lumbered with the job. Worse still, on the 29th November and the 6th December our former Manager Trevor Hughes will more than likely be given the Linesman's flag while he is over here from Cyprus when his intention at the moment is just to watch those two games and meet up and have a chat with his ex-players on the touchline...only we probably won't have anybody actually on the touchline apart from myself filming the matches. That's mainly because we have a horrendous injury list at the moment with skipper Danny Hagan, Leon McKenzie-McKay, Lexton Harrison, Chris Akinrele, Eric Ibekwem, Scott Jenkins and recent signing Nicky Richards all crocked as I write this, some of them probably until the New Year. We also have George Stahlmann away doing voluntary work in Africa until Christmas while a number of other players are missing matches here and there due to work and social commitments. However, we did have a bonus during October when Daniel Cascoe was able to make his comeback after 9 months out with a broken and dislocated ankle and he has since played in three full 90-minute matches with no ill-effects. We have also been able to field at least two substitutes in every match so far this season, and we know that when we get some of our key players back we will have a squad as strong as any we have fielded since we finished third in the Premier Division back in the 2002-2003 Season.

The only problem with that though is our Manager has just resigned ! Yes, Jacko decided to call it a day straight after our 4-0 Home defeat to Old Pond Athletic, leaving a message on our Facebook Group page simply stating 'Numerous issues have led up to this, basically it's me believing that I cannot take the club any further with the current team and attitude.' Jacko had been in charge for just under a year after taking over from James Hatchett, who left in very similar circumstances, and although he had to take a month off for personal reasons back in April, he did a good job as far as I was concerned and I certainly didn't hear any complaints from the players during his time in charge. Although that statement is all Jacko will say for now, I do know that amongst the 'numerous issues' he is referring to (in no particular order) were the following:

a) Players having their own private conversations behind his back while he was trying to do his team-talks.

b) Players turning up after 10.00.a.m. when he had asked them to be there at 9.30.

c) Players shouting at the Referee (and risking a sending-off) instead of letting him do that.

d) Players not hitting long early balls over the top as requested (Stoke/Pulis-style) when we are playing two up front and instead, taking too many touches then playing 'eye-of-the-needle' balls along the ground that get intercepted.

e) Players not hanging free-kicks and corners up in the air onto the opposing keeper (as requested) for Lexton and/or Ryan Bates to run in and test them out (Stoke/Pulis-style).

f) Being forced to go in goal (where he cannot see the whole game) instead of being Manager on the touchline because our two other goalkeepers are either unavailable or want to come off at Half-Time for reasons best known to themselves.

g) Having to listen to players 'unnecessarily' ranting and raving about things on the touchline after matches where it was other problems that caused our failure to win, and...

h) Players not replying to Jacko's texts, Facebook and WhatsApp messages enquiring as to their availability for training and matches.

I also suspect Jacko didn't take kindly to me (and a Referee) telling him not to swear so loudly on the touchline in one of our earlier matches this season because of the highlights going on You Tube (my complaint) and 'women & children' being in the vicinity (which was the Referee's complaint) when Jacko has always revelled in his notoriety in that respect. His catchphrase of 'finger me' was often bellowed in jest around the grounds we played at, but there was no way he could get away with some of the other stuff he had been shouting in increasingly higher decibels since the season started. For me though, point h) is probably the key to everything here and although I agreed 100% with all of Jacko's above policies (a-h), including the Stoke/Pulis ones if he as Manager believes that is the best way for us to play, maybe in hindsight he was trying to be too strict and expected too much from our players. In this day and age, players work such odd hours that as a Manager it is impossible to know when would be the best time to try and contact them so that they could reply straight away. For example, Jacko was sending out group texts and WhatsApp messages early on a Monday morning asking for all players to confirm their availability for training and/or the following Sunday's match when roughly half of our players are in jobs where they will probably be in team meetings at that time and will have been ordered to put their phones on silent and certainly not reply to any messages they receive. In a lot of cases, those players will have been told not to use their phones until their lunch break or even until they have finished work completely...which is at about 7.00.-7.30.p.m. if non-attendance at our Wednesday night training sessions is anything to go by. What happens then is that friends and relatives also send players about 50-100 texts or WhatsApp messages while they are working and the text/WhatsApp message Jacko sent earlier then gets 'well lost' in a sea of 'Luv U Babe' texts and Man United/Arsenal wind-ups or porno images. Invariably our players totally forget to reply to Jacko's message if they have briefly been able to view it, or they do not even realise that he sent it. Since Jacko resigned, I have had the same problem. It doesn't matter what time you send a text or particularly a WhatsApp message, there will be a number of players who will not reply because they simply cannot reply at that time. I very much doubt that any of our players are ignoring the messages deliberately. From now on, I don't think we have any option but to just deal with players who do not reply to text and WhatsApp messages by assuming they will either get in touch of their own accord at some stage or will just let us know at training on a Wednesday night. For example, say we have six players who reply on WhatsApp on a Monday to say they are available for our next match, then at training we have another five turn up saying they are also available. We then name those eleven players as the squad in a WhatsApp Group message and on our Facebook Group page and add that if any other players are available, please let us know before the morning of the match and they will be added to the squad as well until we have got 14. If players want to leave it as late as the morning of the match, then that's their fault if we have already got a squad of 14 and they do not get a game. When everybody is back from injury or from their travels abroad, we will have a squad of 22 quality players with no weak links at all and we will be able to leave out anybody without having a fear of losing. Non-payment of subs will also come into the equation and so will turning up late to matches, especially if we have already got eleven players at the venue by 10.00.a.m.and players then turn up after that time. They will then have to be named as substitutes instead. Jacko was not prepared to do that as he was more concerned with winning matches, and that was fine by me. We now have a situation where Terry Moore is likely to be Caretaker Player-Manager for the rest of the season, although he would prefer it if somebody else volunteers from our current squad of players. We will discuss that with the players in due course, but I certainly do not want to bring in anybody from outside the club again (who will want to bring in some of their own players) as that experiment didn't really work last time and we already have the squad of players that we need...injuries permitting. If Terry is Manager for the rest of the season, his policy (which I also agree with) is most definitely to make sure that anybody who is a substitute one week is then given a game in the starting line-up the following week...subject to them confirming their availability, turning up on time and not owing an excessive amount of subs of course. Terry has also said that if somebody misses a match for whatever reason (e.g. work, social commitments, illness or injury), they will only be put back in the squad for the next match if players who have been in the squad the previous week are not available or they owe too much subs. He wants to reward loyalty and I think that's a good thing. We are far more likely to go on a winning run if we are fielding a settled squad of 14 every week. Whether that policy would still apply for the goalkeeping position and for a Cup Semi-Final or Final I don't know, but I certainly agree with Terry that it should be done for all of our remaining League matches.

As for the rest of Jacko's complaints, I think we now know that we are not going to be able to stop players having their own conversations during team-talks, we are not going to stop players...one in particular... 'going frantic' and panicking too much after a defeat, and we are not going to be able to stop a number of our players complaining non-stop to Referees instead of getting on with the game even when they know that a decision that has been made against us is actually correct. That's just the way they are and we need to get used to it. The reason some of our players like the 'pressurising of the Referee' idea is because they have previously played Semi-Pro on Saturdays where it is all done quite deliberately in an effort to make the Referee give a decision in our favour next time. Those players in question all told me after the 4-0 defeat to Old Pond Athletic that they think every single one of our players should be doing that whenever a refereeing decision goes against us and that we are too quiet as a team, but again, we have at least six or seven players playing for us where 'trying to influence' the Referee in that manner is just not in their nature. Whether Terry Moore agrees with that idea remains to be seen, but there is no reason why we cannot pick up some good results under Terry's Management as we did when he was in charge for four matches last season. We had a much weaker side then than we have now.

As for next season though, we do have a problem as Terry is intending to retire due to family commitments. If none of our other current players wishes to do the job, then the only way the club can survive is if I stop filming the matches and become Manager myself, or if we can persuade one of two ex-Rovers players who are currently running Under-18 teams locally to join as Manager, but if they do so, that would have to be with those current Under-18's players being given priority and our current players then filling in the gaps. It's a difficult situation as we will probably end up with too many players for running just one team and not enough to run two teams, as we know that Terry is not the only one of our current players who will be retiring at the end of this season. We are going to have a lot of thinking to do as this season goes on, that's for sure.
Another possibility is Jacko giving it another go next season, but I suspect that would only happen if the players he felt were letting him down left the club at the end of this season. I have no idea who those players are though. It could be anyone, and it could even be myself or Terry who upset him by querying or changing his tactics...which had to be done in Jacko's final match with him being stuck in goal. Jacko did donate a lot of equipment to the club during his time in charge though and he has left all that to us, which is a terrific gesture that shows he has the club at heart. He is still registered as a player of course and has said he will still play in goal this season if both Grant Baker & Martin Loveday are not available. Although he left the club's Facebook Group as soon as he resigned as Manager, that may have only been because he was the Group Admin. I have now taken over that role, so hopefully he will rejoin the group as a normal member at some stage. After all, the main purpose of it was to get all current players, ex-players and 'supporters' together, and it has been excellent for that so far.

Our next match is another tough game in the London FA Sunday Junior Cup, but if Grant Baker plays a full match in goal this time and we can find a full squad of 14, we know we are capable of beating any team as long as our players show just a bit more commitment and concentration than they did in our last two matches, as it was unquestionably what happened in those two games that finally made Jacko decide to quit. He wanted Semi-Pro standards for certain things, as did I, but he set his standards too high and didn't get them.

0

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Saturday 3rd October 2015

Back in late August after completing our three Pre-Season Friendlies with two wins and one narrow defeat, we were quite pleased with how things were shaping up in terms of new players wanting to join us (or re-join us in some cases), and for our first Division One match Away to newly-promoted BBFC we fielded a squad of 14 which was much stronger than what we had previously fielded on the opening day in recent seasons. That saw us gain a 3-0 victory in which all three goals were already Goal Of The Season contenders, and with BBFC fielding a strong side, we were really 'buzzing' after that one. We assumed that BBFC would then show their worth the following week, but instead they turned up against newcomers Evolution with all their best players missing, losing 8-1 in the process, then they failed to field a team against Goffs Athletic the following week. Whether that was because of the 'shame' of losing to us and having it shown on You Tube I don't know, but they have not played a game since that Evolution match and they are now desperately advertising for new players as I write this. The division had already been reduced to just seven teams with Broxbourne Athletic dropping out, and although a new team (The Sheaf) have since been admitted into the League to take their place, there is still a danger of Division One going back down to seven again unless BBFC can somehow scrape a team up for their forthcoming League Challenge Cup match this coming Sunday (4th October).

We then faced another new team to the League in Sporting Enfield for our second match of the season, but while they were fielding a much stronger side than the one they had put out in their first match (which they lost 4-1 to Goffs Athletic), we were most certainly not doing so ourselves as we had numerous players missing because of injuries and work & family commitments, while knee injuries for skipper Danny Hagan and goalkeeper Grant Baker just before half-time saw us collapse in the Second Half to suffer a 3-0 defeat. However, we bounced back the following week with a 2-1 win Away to Cheshunt Town where a change in formation paid off after we had made a dodgy start, and with every team in the division having lost a match already, everything is wide open and we can actually go top of the table if we beat Evolution this coming Sunday (4th October).

On Sunday 27th September we then played our first ever match at our new Home ground, the Edmonton Sports & Social Club, after 39 years of playing on Enfield Council pitches. It wasn't on our designated pitch as they were still playing cricket on that part of the ground, but the pitch we used in the 'Grocers' section behind the trees on the right was still a lot better than anything we had played on so far this season (or in Pre-Season) and the ball taking a bad bounce was a rarity even though the pitches are all still dry at this time of the year. It was the First Round of the London FA Sunday Junior Cup and our opponents were Club Lixus from North Kensington who were top of the Premier Division of their League (the Sportsmans Senior Sunday League in South-West London) with a 100% record. Some of our players still underestimated them by going out the night before or making themselves unavailable though, but once again we scored three Goal Of The Season contenders to win 3-2, and in fact we have now scored at least six goals already this season which are arguably better than last season's Goal Of The Season winner ! However, our Man-Of-The-Match was goalkeeper Grant Baker, as he was in our opening League victory against BBFC, and Grant being able to play regularly so far this season has made the main difference to our fortunes when last season our various goalkeepers (who were often outfield players) let in some real shockers that cost us a number of matches. Having an in-form goalkeeper certainly breeds confidence amongst the outfield players and that is helping us win matches at the moment. There is no doubt that the excellent facilities we are now using has motivated our players as well though. In addition to having a much better playing surface for our Home matches where the grass is cut, the pitch is rolled and the lines are marked out properly, we now have the nets already put up for us, our own corner flagpoles just 'plop' into a socket in the ground instead of us having to use brute strength to force them in, and the changing rooms and showers are unbelievably good...and very spacious compared to what we were used to at Hazelwood Sports Ground. They are actually twice the size for each team ! We also used the bar after that first match and having a drink after matches is something we have not done for about three or four seasons, so that all helps to improve the team spirit. We have also been training at the club on Wednesday evenings on the designated floodlit grass area between our ideal time of 7.30-9.00.p.m., and although we have only had 8 or 9 turn up on a couple of occasions due to injuries and other commitments, that number should increase once we start advertising that session on the clubhouse noticeboard. One thing that we do have a slight problem with in playing at our new Home ground is that we cannot use our pitch on random dates like we used to at Hazelwood where we were sharing with another team from our League in St. Mary's. At the Edmonton Sports & Social Club we are sharing the pitches with Norsemen Youth, who thankfully are prepared to be flexible rather than us playing at Home strictly on alternate weeks, but apparently in the Mid-Herts Rural Minors League in which they play, each Home team has to arrange their own fixtures and their own Referees ten days before the date of the match, so Norsemen Youth therefore need to know our fixtures before then. However, our League (the Waltham Sunday) do not announce our fixtures until seven days before a match, leaving Norsemen Youth having to guess whether we will be playing at Home or not. The Waltham League's late fixture announcements are very frustrating for me as a Secretary, but they are not going to change their way of doing things just for us, so that could result in us being left with no game if we are given a Home game with seven days notice when Norsemen Youth have already arranged three days earlier to play at Home on the same pitch. Although there are five full-size pitches at the ground, the Norsemen First XI pitch is protected on Sundays, while Norsemen Youth run a heck of a lot of teams. They would have to make one of their matches a 12.30.p.m. Kick-Off and play it on our pitch as soon as we have finished, which they did on the 27th September after we had played Club Lixus, but they are not going to be able to do that during the winter when the pitches are wet. It is just something we will have to put up with, although I have told the Waltham League Fixture Secretary to arrange our Home matches strictly on alternate weeks if at all possible, so that should help if he agrees.

Regarding our squad at the moment, rather worryingly we seem to have only 13 regular players who can play more-or-less every week from now until Christmas, although we shouldn't have any problem attracting new players to boost the squad if we have to. Ex-Wormley Rovers forward Ryan Bates has already come in and made an impact but it is in the centre of midfield where we are short at the moment  as it looks as if Danny Hagan will probably require an operation on his injured knee that will put him out for the rest of the season, which would be just as big a blow for us as it was last season when we lost Mike Sharman and Daniel Cascoe to serious long-term injuries early on. Cascoe is now back in training but we are not expecting him to play in a competitive match for some while yet, while Scott Jenkins is also yet to play a game this season because of a calf injury and we do not know when he will be back either. We have also lost George Stahlmann until the New Year as he is away travelling the world again, while Tyronne Petrie, Rafiel Johnson and Ivan Bass are all increasingly having to work on Sundays and are only playing occasionally, although we normally have at least one of them available for each match. We have also had one or two players leaving or not bothering to get in touch because they had not been picked for the squad or had been left on the bench when they were, which always happens at this time of year and is perfectly understandable. However, compared to most clubs in our League we are in quite a healthy position at the moment in being able to field a decent squad of 13 or 14 very good players every week.
With several clubs in our League turning up with less than eleven or failing to fulfil fixtures already with only four weeks of the season played, I decided to take a look at the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League's results so far to see if they had the same problems. Like the Waltham League, they also use the Full-Time system whereby result cards are sent in and team line-ups are listed for every match. They of course have four divisions compared to our League's three and 21 more teams in total, but they have only had one non-fulfilment so far (a Reserve Team) and no clubs dropping out or asking for some breathing space to find some new players...as BBFC, Premier Division side FC Alpha and Division Two side Upshire Reserves have been doing in our League. When we played Away to Cheshunt Town up in Hoddesdon recently, myself and Manager Simon Jackson had an interesting conversation with our Referee Steve Parkin before the kick-off where he told us that he tends to Referee more games in the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League nowadays simply because the traffic on the A10 south of Brookfield Farm in Cheshunt on a Sunday is horrendous and it takes too long to get home when he Referees matches in the Waltham Sunday League. He will therefore only referee matches in our League if they are being played north of Cheshunt. It is a very valid point, as it took me 55 minutes to get home to Edmonton after that match in Hoddesdon whereas three years ago it would have taken 35 minutes, five years ago only 30 minutes and ten years ago only 20-25 minutes. Yes, Spurs were at Home on that date (to Crystal Palace), but it was a 1.30.p.m. Kick-Off and I was travelling back down to Edmonton at roughly that time, not an hour or two before it. If Spurs had been kicking-off at 3.00.p.m., that journey back to Edmonton would have taken at least 90 minutes. Steve Parkin claimed that something like 50% of players currently playing in the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League used to play in the Waltham Sunday League but they have left our League in their droves in recent years simply because the travelling to play Away to ourselves and St. Mary's at Hazelwood (in Palmers Green) and even Percival at Bush Hill Park and the various teams who play at Enfield Playing Fields meant they were sitting in traffic for up to an hour after the match and therefore missing the 1.30.p.m. Kick-Off on Sky or the obligatory family commitments that the missus might have arranged for the afternoon. Every match in the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League takes place along the stretch of the A10 between Cheshunt Brookfield and Standon & Puckeridge (just north of Ware) where it is 70mph all the way (or 150mph all the way on a Sunday night, but that's another story) and there are no traffic light junctions whatsoever. What you have now on the A10 at Southbury Road in Enfield on a Sunday lunchtime/early afternoon is a traffic light system introduced about 18 months ago where only 5 or 6 cars are able to get through at a time before the lights change...i.e. some sort of automated traffic management system depending on the number of vehicles queuing up either side, while the retail parks just before those lights and the Jubilee Church gatherings at Cineworld on the A10/Southbury Road corner are absolutely packed in comparison to two or three years ago. Far more people now go shopping at those superstores on a Sunday lunchtime in preference to other times during the week and there are also many more West African Christians living in the Enfield area now who go to that Cineworld Church. Where players who live in Cheshunt and Broxbourne previously played in the Waltham Sunday League, it makes perfect sense that they are no longer going to be willing to do so because of these horrendous traffic problems. In looking through each team's players used so far this season on that East Herts Corinthian Sunday League Full-Time site, I spotted at least 100 who have played against us in the Waltham Sunday League in the past five years and who no longer do so, not to mention a number of Referees. But what can our League do about it ? Absolutely nothing. All we can do now is just accept that we have to target teams based in the Borough of Enfield to come and join us, but with the Edmonton Sunday League still going strong with a new Chairman and a new website and the Barnet Sunday League also unlikely to fold or merge in the near future, I think we will just have to accept that the Waltham Sunday League will go down to two divisions next season whether my League website is being resurrected or not, and thereafter it is just a case of all three Leagues going down to two divisions each and competing for the same clubs unless all three DO decide to merge as one to save adult Sunday League football in both Boroughs (Enfield & Barnet). There may still be the odd team from Cheshunt and Waltham Cross who decide to stay with our League if they play at The Country Club in Cheshunt or St. Mary's School as they would still have to get past two sets of lights to go up and play in the East Herts Corinthian League, but the trend is most certainly very worrying.

Meanwhile, there have been some interesting debates regarding Referees on the Waltham League's Facebook Group since the season started, one of them concerning the marks out of 100 that clubs have to award their Referee after every match. There is a lengthy criteria somewhere online as to how to award those marks which I won't go into here, but basically, the Referee has to be 'reported' if we decide to submit a mark of 60 or less. Our long-serving Manager throughout the 1990's and 2000's Trevor Hughes always used to award those marks going by Sunday League standards...in other words making a 20-point allowance for the Referee being 'old' and unable to keep up with play and not going strictly by the rulebook for things such as sock tape, wrong colour cycling shorts, substitutes only being allowed on once the player coming off has crossed the white line, and players being treated on the pitch having to go off before being allowed back on once play has re-started...and only when the ball is not in their vicinity. Our current Manager Simon Jackson wants higher standards though and he wants to see the same refereeing principles applied in our matches as he sees when watching his beloved Stoke City in the Premier League. Jacko feels that because the clubs in our League have vastly improved in recent years in terms of player fitness, pre-match warm-ups, tactical appreciation and general organisation with more and more ex-Step 4-7 Saturday players joining teams in our League, not to mention Fitz Hall !, then our Referees should improve as well. Jacko has a very valid point and I suspect most other Team Managers in our League agree with him. For Sunday League football, the minimum mark out of 100 before submitting a report needs to be 40, not 60, because clubs are being asked to mark Referees by the same guidelines as for professional football. It is actually unfair on the average Sunday League Referee that he has to keep being 'reported' (or given the 'cop-out' mark of 61) every week because of that. Also, as we professionally film all our matches, I asked the League whether we could submit our Referee's mark each week a day or two after the deadline once I had edited the video, as that would give a much more accurate assessment of the Referee's performance as opposed to the knee-jerk reactions that all Managers in our League are likely to give straight after the match, especially when their team has lost. Unfortunately though, the League will not allow a delayed mark from a video assessment. I don't know why, as nine times out of ten the video shows that the Referee did actually get more of his decisions right than we thought at the time. My videos should be helping Referees in the same way that they do the players. After all, Darren Deadman is now Refereeing in the Championship and he always used to use my video of the match to help him analyse his game when he refereed in the Waltham League in his younger days. There is no doubt that better, younger, fitter Referees officiating in our League will help to attract and keep clubs. We do not have enough of them at the moment.

Another interesting comment regarding Referees on the League's Facebook page recently was from a Club Secretary complaining that his Referee refused to have Club Linesmen making offside decisions and instructed them to only flag for the ball going out of play. It was a new Referee to the League (who I won't name but it was me who recommended our League to him), and he didn't realise it was actually a League rule that clubs MUST supply a Linesman otherwise they will be fined. As he Referees at Step 3-5 level on Saturdays with official Assistant Referees and had previously refereed in the Saturday AFA Leagues in which there actually appears to be a rule where Club Linesmen are NOT allowed, he was hoping that same AFA rule applied in our League. Unfortunately it doesn't, and that is exactly why AFA referees do not generally officiate in our League...or soon leave if they do when they get fed up with Club 'Linos' not concentrating/having a fag/talking on their mobile or supposedly 'cheating'. This is something I have been arguing about for some time. As far as I am concerned, the League rule regarding Club Linesmen MUST be changed so that it reads as follows...'Club Linesmen will be used for matches only if the Referee and both participating teams are in agreement. If only one club is able to provide a Linesman, then Linesmen will not be used at all. When a match takes place using Club Linesmen, it will be the Referee's decision as to whether they flag for offsides and the ball going out of play or for the ball going out of play only'. I will be proposing this (and a few other things) as a rule change for next season, which all Club Secretaries are allowed to do. The procedure then is that it is discussed by the League Management Committee, and if they agree...which is highly unlikely...then it gets voted on at the Pre-AGM Full Council Meeting in April. I have said for many years that having Club Linesmen is the root of all evil in Sunday League football, simply because they are automatically branded as 'cheats', nobody in their right mind wants to do the job...so they don't concentrate, and it puts players off coming to the game if they know they are going to be a substitute and therefore invariably end up as Lino, sometimes on the floor when they have been put there by an opponent's fist. As far as I am concerned, there is no doubt whatsoever that if the fine for failing to provide a Club Linesman is taken away and the Referee is allowed to make the decision on whether they are used or not, less clubs would be in danger of folding from a lack of players or constant 'No Club Linesman' fines and the League will have more chance of surviving.

0

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Saturday 5th September 2015

Since my last Chairman's Blog, we have been busy in Pre-Season as always, and here is what has been happening....

Firstly we had two matches remaining in the Summer 7-a-side League at the Southgate Hockey Centre, both against two of the top three teams. We were of course struggling near the foot of the table as usual. These two matches coincided with Pre-Season Training starting and us advertising for new players, in particular a goalkeeper after almost 8 months of various outfield players (or a seriously overweight and out-of-practice Simon Jackson...our Manager) invariably having to go in goal, both at 11-a-side and for 7-a-side. As goalkeepers for Sunday League teams are like gold-dust, it probably wasn't surprising that the only reply we got was from 17-year-old Jordan Andidorou, whose e-mail seemed to be claiming that he had played for Leyton Orient's Academy. However, once he turned up and played, it was clear that what he actually meant was that he had attended a one-off school half-term 'soccer skills & goalkeeping coaching class for people who had never played organised football before', run by members of Leyton Orient's Academy. Bit of a difference there ! Of course Jordan is not the first player to have asked to join us with those credentials as a background and with the serious underestimation of just how good a standard the Waltham Sunday League (and the Summer 7-a-side League) is...and he won't be the last. In the first of those final two 7-a-side League games he let in 8, then in our final game (with him in goal) we managed to lose 12-1, which was our second-biggest defeat in the 15 years we have been playing in that League. We were actually fielding a very strong side in that last match, including six first-choice 11-a-side players in our squad of 8, but Jordan trod on the ball on his own goal-line after just 30 seconds instead of clearing it downfield, allowing an opposing forward to tackle him and score, then they went 2-0 up after 60 seconds because of another goalkeeping mistake. Although he did make a few routine saves in both matches, he had no physical presence and had no idea of how to call for the ball and command the defenders in front of him...in stark contrast to the many 17-year-old goalkeepers you often see playing at Step 4-7 level in first teams on Saturdays, which is the sort of upbringing our own Grant Baker has and which we need in order to win things at our level.

As for the rest of the match (in that 12-1 defeat), our opponents Emerald Rovers just deliberately sat back deep in their half while we passed the ball about in an area between the half-way line and the edge of their penalty 'arc' until we finally tried a shot in desperation, then as soon as that was blocked or saved, they quickly broke down the other end in numbers and scored another 10 goals from about 13 attempts. We just don't have the discipline, the right players and the 7-a-side know-how to play like that. Even though we lost 12-1, we must have had an astonishing 80% of the possession in that match, mainly as a result of the super-fit Tem Adil dribbling the ball about in midfield and nobody making runs forward for him to play the ball through to earlier. We just cannot play 7-a-side on the break nowadays because none of our players play like Stuart Dorward, who used to sprint from defence or midfield past our lone forward straight away as soon as we re-gained possession. Our control, possession, passing and fitness is actually miles better now than it was when I wrote a previous blog on our failings at 7-a-side some five years ago, but all of our midfielders nowadays want to be either holding players or playmakers. It actually affects our game at 11-a-side as well, but is more noticeable at 7-a-side. We also have very few proper defenders wanting to play 7-a-side and invariably those that do find it harder to play in than 11-a-side because they are getting on in years and are not the most mobile. At 11-a-side they can play offside, be organised and use their experience. Of course the main problem for us at 7-a-side is that we choose to play in that League primarily to maintain our players' fitness levels throughout the Summer, but also to try out new players and give different players a game each week so that we can obtain their signatures for the forthcoming 11-a-side season. This Summer we used 26 different players. Most other teams used no more than 10. Their teamwork is always going to be superior to ours for that reason. The danger with the 7-a-side League is when we bring a quality new player along for his debut and we end up losing 12-1 for the reasons mentioned above, that player then thinks we are as bad as that at 11-a-side as well and then declines our offer for him to sign up. It has happened numerous times over the past 15 years. That is why I personally would prefer it if we no longer entered the 7-a-side League, but we will make the right decision when the time comes.

At least we had some good Pre-Season Training sessions at Enfield Playing Fields on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings during late-July and August though with a decent number of players attending, and that put us in good stead for our three Pre-Season Friendlies against Broxbourne Rangers Old Boys, Sumners Athletic and Flamstead End. All three matches were played at Enfield Playing Fields due to the cricket season taking place at our new home ground, and although we could only scrape up a bare eleven plus one half-injured player for the first of those matches (against Broxbourne Rangers Old Boys), we still managed to win 3-2 against a decent side simply because of our improved fitness levels which saw us score three late goals in the space of eight minutes. We then won the second Friendly 5-0 against a poor Sumners Athletic side who were struggling for players whereas we had a squad of 15 for that one. We also had 15 turn up for our final Pre-Season Friendly against top Premier Division side Flamstead End, but their very useful forwards were a bit too good for us and we were slightly fortunate to escape with only a 3-2 defeat after we had once again scored two very late goals. All in all though it was a good Pre-Season for us and we managed to sign up (or re-sign) a number of very good players such as Chris Akinrele, Eric Ibekwem, Rafiel Johnson, Ben Taylor & Martin Loveday with a couple more new signings also on the horizon in the next couple of weeks or so. We also have Daniel Cascoe hoping to return to training soon, so that will be another bonus if he is fit enough to start playing again at some stage this season. The only down-side is one or two players who have not looked after themselves during the Summer moaning that our green & black Adidas shirts have 'shrunk in the wash'. Well lose some weight then ! The shirts look alright on other players !!!

As for the Waltham Sunday League's current problems with an ever-decreasing number of teams, we have now heard that Broxbourne Athletic have folded up due to a lack of players, therefore leaving Division One (our division) down to just seven teams this season. The 'third match for all teams' idea had already been brought in for the coming season after Lea Valley Royals withdrew from the division shortly after the constitution was announced, but if one more club drop out...and Cheshunt Town certainly seem to be the most likely to do so with only 16 players registered as I write this...then there will only be six teams left in the division and everybody will have to play each other four times ! Obviously that is extremely infuriating and there is a massive danger of players getting disillusioned by that, resulting in non-fulfilments galore as the season goes on. Unfortunately though, the Football Association do not allow the number of divisions to be changed once a constitution has been voted on, and with teams dropping out after the opening fixtures had already been announced, it is now impossible to scrap a division and have the remaining 26 teams left in the League re-arranged as two 13-team divisions anyway. Teams in Division One were actually asked at the recent Pre-Season Full Council Meeting (before Broxbourne Athletic dropped out) if they were happy or not with playing the 'third matches' though and they all said 'Yes', almost certainly because they will now see themselves on our You Tube highlights three times this season instead of twice...and indeed more likely four times the way things are going ! Including Cup matches where this season the League are playing the Intermediate Cup Quarter-Finals as two legs (Home & Away), we could end up playing one team (BBFC) seven times if we end up meeting them in the League Challenge Cup at some stage as well !!! It's a good job they are Herts F.A. affiliated and not London, so we therefore won't have to play them an eighth time in the London F.A. Sunday Junior Cup ! Our own mentality for this season MUST be to just see it through whether the numerous matches against the same opponents are boring or not. I am very confident that the following season will see the Waltham Sunday League start to regain its former glories and we will be competing in a much more enjoyable and better-organised environment. One of the reasons for that is the clubs voting for my League website to return after a four-season absence, and although I will only be re-designing and setting-up the hosting of the website instead of actually being the administrator/League Website Secretary (for reasons which I won't go into on here), it should start attracting new clubs to the League for Season 2016-2017 onwards. Other things the League have now introduced for this season after frequent complaints in these Chairman's Blogs over the last year or so are making more use of Twitter, starting up a Facebook Group (which is now starting to catch on thanks to contributions from some of our players !), and perhaps most importantly, re-naming the League as the Waltham SUNDAY Football League instead of the 'Waltham Football League', thereby making outsiders and potential new clubs aware that we are actually playing in a Sunday League instead of a Saturday League. All that needs to be done now to make the League more attractive to potential new club Secretaries (and existing ones like myself) is allowing clubs to make online payments for League fees instead of having to write out and post cheques, reducing the amount of petty fines for clubs by sending more text reminders...although the website, Twitter & Facebook should help with that, and allowing clubs to register players using an online form on the website where a signature is not required and where a 'selfie' passport-size photo can be attached and sent as a jpeg image. That last one may need permission/advice from the Football Association but it is certainly easy to set up on the website software that I use and it will happen eventually (via the F.A.) anyway, whether the League like it or not. In my opinion online player registrations will make a massive difference to adult Sunday Leagues being able to retain member clubs. One of the reasons why a lot of clubs fold is because there is just too much hassle for Club Secretaries in obtaining signatures and printed photos from players and then having to print and post the forms & photos off several days before a match. A system needs to be in place whereby a new player can turn up just minutes before the kick-off, take a selfie of himself, access the online registration form on the League website on his Smartphone, fill in his name, address, D.O.B., the name of the club he is signing for, the name of any previous club, then attach the selfie picture, click on 'Submit' and 'bingo'...he is then registered to play in the match he has just turned up for and instead of his team non-fulfilling the fixture through a lack of registered players (or trying to play ringers but being caught by a League Officer with his I.D. Cards), the game goes ahead and everyone's a winner, including the opponents, the Referee and the League. However, at least what we have now is a good start and the League will survive this season.

0

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Thursday 30th July 2015

In my last Chairman's Blog two months ago I speculated on the Waltham Sunday League's Constitution for the coming 2015-2016 Season that was due to be announced at their AGM, suggesting it was likely that there would still be three divisions listed with 11 teams in both the Premier Division and Division One, and then 12 teams in Division Two. That was based on the League naively thinking that no teams would drop out once the previous 2014-2015 Season had been completed and that there would be at least 5 or 6 new teams joining the League. I knew full well that the eventual Constitution would be nothing like that, and indeed we now have only 10 teams in the Premier Division and just 9 teams in both Division One and Division Two thanks to a number of teams 'folding' and only two new clubs joining the League, both of them from the Edmonton Sunday League, which has always been a natural progression for teams based in the Borough of Enfield (like ourselves) who want a better standard of football with less of a threat of 'violence'. You only need to look at the regular weekly 'circulars' that the Edmonton Sunday League post on their website to see a number of games being abandoned every season for 'mass brawls', whereas in our League, abandonments are only for injuries or for the occasional Referee not being used to the Semi-Pro-standard banter/'testing out' from players and therefore walking off the pitch as a result. There are still plenty of teams joining the Edmonton Sunday League every season though and they still have more teams and one more division than the Waltham Sunday League. That appears to be because it is the only adult mens' Sunday League which is actually based in the Borough of Enfield, and of course Edmonton has a densely-populated catchment area for players. However, another local mens' League, the Barnet Sunday League, are in exactly the same boat as the Waltham Sunday League in struggling to recruit new teams and they are seeing many of their teams folding up or moving to other Leagues, like Pymmes Brook did when they joined our League from there after being very critical of the way the Barnet League was being run. Like the Waltham League, the Barnet Sunday League also only have three divisions now when they had five only three years ago and they only have 9 teams in their Premier Division, 9 teams in Division One and 8 teams in Division Two for the coming season, although at least they do have a highly successful Veterans League which now has two divisions. Maybe our League should have gone along with that idea !? It was certainly mooted a few seasons ago.

Of course if you believe what you see in the media (and some of my previous Chairman's Blogs), the problems that our League and the Barnet Sunday League are encountering are all because of the national trend of players not wanting to play adult men's Sunday League football any more because of the high cost of using sub-standard facilities and also having to work on Sundays.

Well think again ! The Ware-based East Herts Corinthian Sunday League...the Waltham League's nearest rivals...have recruited 18 newly-formed teams for the coming season from the Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Hoddesdon, Ware & Hertford areas when our League have not recruited any ! They now have four divisions with 12 or 13 teams in each, and one of those new teams (EHFC) looks suspiciously like East Herts, who played in our League last season and then told them they were leaving because they were folding. The sudden desire to play adult men's Sunday League football is even more impressive in the Walthamstow, Leyton, Chingford, Woodford, Loughton & Epping areas of East London and West Essex though...this being a catchment area our League were targeting with some expensive printed newspaper advertising during March & April. The Essex Sunday Corinthian League had been on the verge of folding up after going down to exactly the same number of teams (and divisions) that the Waltham Sunday League have now, but they then appointed Rob Parker (somebody I know well from filming Cup Finals for him) to run and re-design their own League website and introduce Twitter and Facebook pages, and they are now back up to four divisions next season after an astonishing 21 new teams joined them during the Summer ! Other Sunday Leagues in the East London and South-West Essex area such as the Hackney & Leyton Sunday League, the Essex Sunday Football Combination and the Brentwood Sunday League are all thriving, while there has even been a new League (the East London & Essex Border Sunday League) formed for the coming season by disenchanted Club Secretaries who are fed up with how their previous Leagues were run. It appears that League already has three divisions of 10 teams and well over 30 Referees joining them...all because they make extensive use of Twitter. One of the more interesting tweets on their page reads 'We believe that leagues should have younger committee members who have the drive to push forward certain issues that need to be addressed', while another reads 'We are all people that want a league to progress and not stand still and gather dust like most.' Very well said, I must say...even though I am approaching my 60th birthday myself !

Although these Leagues in East London and South-West Essex are bucking the trend by using social media and/or their own customised websites to successfully attract new teams though, how on earth have the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League managed to do it ? Like the Waltham League, they only use Full-Time on its own instead of it being embedded into a customised website (like I do here), and unlike our League they do not use Twitter or Facebook whatsoever !  I therefore thought I would find out by doing a Google Search for 'Adult Mens Sunday Football League Cheshunt'...and what are the first three results that appear ? 1) The ORC Sports Waltham FOOTBALL League, 2) The East Herts Corinthian SUNDAY Football League, then 3) AC Enfield are a football team from the Waltham FOREST Sunday League. (Taken from AC Enfield's Club website). There is no mention whatsoever that the Waltham Football League is a Sunday League, while there is actually no such League as the Forest Sunday League (which no doubt everybody thinks AC Enfield must play in), as that League (from Walthamstow) folded up 10 years ago ! In addition to our League being registered with the FA and Full-Time as the 'Waltham Football League', it also only says 'The Waltham Football League' on our League's Facebook and Twitter pages, as it did in the recent newspaper advertisements. No mention whatsoever that the Waltham Football League is actually a SUNDAY League. What a waste of money that advertising campaign was then !? The bizarre (and some would say brainless) reason for the word 'Sunday' being omitted from the League’s official title is actually because the League's bank apparently refuses to accept cheques made payable to the 'Waltham Sunday League' because the League is registered with the bank (and everywhere else) as the 'Waltham Football League'. When I did the League website a number of seasons ago and publicised it as the 'Waltham Sunday Football League', I was told to take the 'Sunday' part out because too many Club Secretaries were writing out cheques that were unable to be banked. Not that Club Secretaries should HAVE to write out cheques in this day and age. If the County Football Associations can sort out an online payment system (which now works so much better for us when we have to make payments to the London FA), then why can't our League do it ? Because the Waltham League Assistant Treasurer is not on the internet and therefore cannot check the account online, that's why. Well then get an online payments system sorted out, then the League can start publicising itself as a Sunday League again. Simples !
Before the days of the internet and even up until about 6 years ago, most newly-formed teams joined adult men's Sunday Leagues by word-of-mouth, so our League always did well in that respect, although even then, a maximum of 6 or 7 new clubs per season was the norm, not 18 or 21 ! Nowadays, it is all unquestionably done by searching on the internet for the nearest and most suitable League. Having now done that Google Search, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the majority of those 18 teams have joined the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League for the coming season because they had no idea that the Waltham Football League was actually a Sunday League...and if they did, they probably thought it was based in Walthamstow (Waltham Forest) anyway. Maybe it was also because they simply couldn't find a link to the League that AC Enfield think they play in...because there isn't one ! That error on the AC Enfield website has been on the internet for at least the last three years, as has those Full-Time listings of the ORC Sports Waltham Football League and the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League, while it is nearly five years since my League website was scrapped and therefore wiped off the Google Search results. It is no coincidence that during that time, the Waltham League has gone down from six divisions to three, and the East Herts Corinthian League has gone from just two divisions with a total of just 15 teams to four divisions with a total of 48 teams...without even doing anything to publicise themselves !

However, there could also be another worrying reason for newly-formed teams from the Cheshunt & Broxbourne area deciding to join the East Herts Corinthian Sunday League, namely 'because Edmonton Rovers and Edmonton Blades both play in the Waltham League'. Although the son of one of our ex-players, Mark Bascombe, runs Edmonton Blades, we have never played them before so I have no idea why they chose the name 'Blades' and what it is supposed to signify. Like ourselves, they are a well-run club with no history of violence, but I doubt whether that is the perception of the invariably affluent young footballers who are forming new teams in Broxbourne and other parts of East Hertfordshire within the Waltham League's catchment area. Many people now living in that area were originally from Edmonton but fled to East Hertfordshire 15-20 years ago to escape the 'violence and poverty', and they will be very aware that Edmonton is quite commonly known as 'Shanktown' nowadays...and with good reason. They will not know that most of our players (in particular) actually live in Palmers Green, Winchmore Hill, North & West Enfield and Barnet and that they have respectable jobs. Given the choice, players from East Hertfordshire will undoubtedly choose to play in a League in which they will think they will be 'safer' and in which the large majority of the players are of the same 'socio-economic background'.
Even if newly-formed adult men's teams HAVE discovered the Waltham Sunday League and are thinking of joining it despite teams from Edmonton being part of the membership, when they download the League handbook (if they can find it) from the League's Full-Time 'website' they will notice Rule 1(E) in there stating 'New Member Clubs have one year to achieve the Charter Standard club award. The League has the right to refuse membership to a Club if it fails to demonstrate commitment to achieving the award'. What a bizarre rule !!! To become a Charter Standard Club you need to be running x amount of Youth, Ladies & Disability Teams and find numerous volunteers. How on earth is a one-man-band adult men's Sunday 'Pub Team' going to do that in the space of a year ? No wonder hardly any new clubs have joined the League in the past four years...which was when that 'rule' first appeared in the handbook.
We now just have to hope the Waltham Sunday League survives so that our move to our new Home ground at the Edmonton Sports & Social Club becomes worthwhile. Last season it was certainly a bit 'Micky Mouse' when Pymmes Brook won the Division One title thanks to Broxbourne Athletic non-fulfilling their last game of the season against them, not to mention them winning the Intermediate Cup Final against us from a sliced cross after getting a Bye straight through to the Final ! The League really needs to make sure it has enough clubs in each division so that the 'third matches' are not needed again and that every team is at least able to play a Quarter-Final and Semi-Final in the divisional Cups. If that means going down to two divisions before the coming season starts (if yet more clubs drop out, which I suspect they will do), then it will have to be done.

Incredibly, the League have still got £30,000 in the bank, despite making a £4,000 loss during the last financial year (up until the 31st December 2014). If the League did eventually fold (because the damage has already been done in calling itself the Waltham Football League for too long...amongst other things), then as far as I am aware, that money goes to the remaining member clubs. In a perverse way, it might actually encourage more new clubs to join if that was made public. So...Done !

0