The Bickerstaffe Record


Sports report

05.25.11 | Comment?

I am a huge fan of the Skelmersdale Junior Football league*. 

I can’t think of another town in the country, and I know a few, which gets roughly 5% of its total population out on a Sunday morning to play, referee, organise, help at or watch kids’ football.  Viewed simply in those terms, it’s an amazing success.  The people who run the whole thing are unheralded heroes.

So are all the people who run all the teams.  When I last looked, there were 70-0dd teams registered across the age groups, from under 7 to under 15 level.

I’ve been wondering for a while what I might be able to do to help, and it occurred to me recently that the best thing I might do is do what I do on this blog – write stuff down for people to see if they want. 

With this in find, last week I reported on the under 12 semi-final, in which my son happened to doing his goalkeeper stuff for Dynamo Rangers Madrid. I don’t understand much about the game myself (I grew up in rugby league country), but I’ve seen enough, and read enough papers, to get by. 

The ensuing match report is here, though because the formatting’s gone a bit wonky on the club site (to which I don’t have admin rights).

I’ve said I’ll do these match reports from now on, because I think I can quite quickly get the hang of what’s needed: an obvious display of enthusiasm for the game, with appropriate praise and encouraged  for both sides, whatever the result, and enough specific praise for individuals that they and their parents/guardians will want to read it and come back for more.

As ever though, my mind has started to turn to the bigger picture, and I wonder now if I might initiate some bigger project, where lots and lots of each week’s games get a similar kind of commentary. 

This would serve its direct purpose of keeping the children enthusiastic about what they’re part of because their efforts are so clearly valued, but might also serve a more indirect purpose of developing writing and proto-‘citizen journalism’ skills.  There are, of course, a lot of match reports done (for local team sites), but they tend to be fairly brief, and I get the sense that – with costs and staffing squeezed over recent years – there is much less independent coverage in the local press than there was (I’ve not looked at this in any depth, I grant).

So, as an outline proposal to gauge initial interest, I’m proposing:

a) setting up an informal network across the league (and then perhaps other local leagues, including the separately organised girls’ football) of club reporters sending their match reports in for publication on a separate site (perhaps in time integrated with/linked to both club sites and the league’s site)

b) encouraging the local press to carry something like a compendium of the results and a synopsis of the best of the league, perhaps also with a ‘match of the week displayed prominently, which might not be the best match of football, but the best written piece reflecting what the project is about as a whole – generating both interest in the football and developing writing skills amongst young people/parents.

c) At the same time, developing an informal ‘style guide’ for reporting and perhaps hosting meetings for the new local reporters to talk through and develop skills.

d) If demand is clear, developing a hard copy for (low price) sale on Sunday mornings, with proceeds feeding back into both the league and the reporter network (though of course they may become one and the same thing).

learly this is just a starter for ten post, and there’s lots of other angles can be built in (e.g links to schools re: writing prjects etc, some stuff around cameras/video)

But for now…….What’s the interest out there for this kind of thing (come on, you journos, I know you read this blog)?  

If there is interest I’ll push it forward a bit.  If not, I might not bother and just cover my lad’s games for a laugh.


* Please note I’m aware of girls’ football and its importance in West Lancs, and the other sports knocking about.  This is just starting with what I know.


Match report

Skelmersdale Junior League Cup Semi-Final, May 15th 2011

Dynamo Rangers Madrid U12 3 – 2 Ormskirk West End

This was a hard fought semi-final played in a great spirit by both sides. Dynamo scraped through to what will be an exciting final against Old Skem Boys, but West End deserve huge credit for the way they fought back in the second half and put huge pressure on the Dynamo goal in the final minutes.

The early minutes of the game were dominated by midfield tussles as both teams tried to exert an initial dominance. Eventually, Dynamo started to make their pressure count and James M was denied a first goal when a rasping shot from the edge of box rebounded from the foot of the post and away to safety. The defence continued to play a high line, and Oliver stood out particularly for his calm break up of opposition play. One drive out of defence down the line, and a superb threaded ball, reminded one or two of the more elderly fans of a young Franz Beckenbauer.

As the half progressed, the challenges got a little feisty at times; Megan was flattened in midfield, requiring some attention before she continued. This simply seemed to give her more energy, as she put herself about with tackle after tackle. Elliot continued to bring a calm to proceedings, as his team-mates benefited from his control and poise on the ball.

The breakthrough came towards the end of the half when a good move ended with a goal-bound shot by Liam being kept out by the hand of a West End defender. The inevitable yellow card followed, and there was quite a pause before James M took responsibility and stepped up to take what was always going to be a crucial penalty in such a tight game. He drilled it hard and low (a la David Beckham vs Argentina 2002) to give the keeper no chance, and Dynamo were in front.

The second half began with a similar pattern, as Dynamo continued to push forward. Karl in particular started to show what an attacking force he can be, with one drive at the defence only thwarted by a last ditch West End tackle.

Dynamo’s efforts were finally and doubly rewarded when, twice in two minutes, Liam’s goal poaching instincts came to the fore. The first one was a real instinct finish when a shot rebounded off the unlucky West End keeper into his path and he tucked it away from a couple of yards out. Two minutes later he produced a wonderfully calm finish from the left hand side of the area as another loose ball broke to him.

That should really have been that, but West End showed tremendous fighting spirit. With 15 minutes to go some confusion in the hitherto rock solid Dynamo defence allowed West End to get a cross in from the left, and a neat finish at the near post past helpless goalie Max made it 3-1. Game on.

From that point, the game changed, and West End surged forward with renewed belief. The Dynamo defence started to fall back from the high line it had adopted, and Max was called into action a number of times after what had been a quiet first half, making one brave stop at the feet on an onrushing West End forward and receiving a decent kick for his pains. The almost inevitable followed as a corner from the West End left was sent goalwards by a West End forward and the ball took a horrible bobble off the firm, uneven goalmouth surface, over the diving Max into the net.

With three minutes left it was all to play for. Captain Connor stood up to be counted, urging his players on and making sure everyone battled for every ball. Then, in the very last minute, Sam R-W, after his usual sterling tackle-on-sight performance at right back, was penalised for a foul, and West End had one last chance with a free kick just outside the box. The whole team got back to defend; the whole of West End pushed into the box. The ball was swung in hard and low through the crowd of players and Max – vigilant to the last – plunged to his left to get two hands on it and push it away to safety. After a fairly quiet game, it was the save that took Dynamo to the final. The whistle went, and the game was won.

The ref was full of praise for both teams after the hard-fought encounter, ultimately a nail biter for both sets of fans. For Dynamo, he selected Liam as man of the match for his great performance upfront, always ready to surge past the West End defence and a handful for them all afternoon in addition to his two crucial “poacher” goals. Stu and Lee selected James M for manager man of the match, not least for his courage in stepping up to take the crucial first half penalty.

Roll on the final.

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