Fifty Something Years of Community Football

I was sent a couple of photographs taken of two football teams back in the sixties.

Having been around seven, eight or nine years old at the time, I remember some of the faces, they all worked in a local washing machine manufacturing plant and every Spring / Summer they would play against other teams in an inter-departmental football tournament.

My dad would play, he would go in goal, he was the weak link in the crack elite ‘Engineering’ side. Can always remember him in his white shorts and black polo neck jumper, he was like a cat … sleeping!

There are many things that hit home about these photos.

Firstly that I have been inspired by community football for over fifty years.

Secondly there is a social and economic thread through the teams, back then, the factory was run by Hotpoint, at that time it was the heart and soul of the town, thriving and provided much needed work in the area.

All those pictured will have had their worries, stuff they spoke about between themselves, to one another. The same issues we have today, although we are kinder to ourselves than we were back then by speaking more openly about things.

They will have shared the great times too, all those triumphs we celebrate in life.

They probably didn’t realise at the time what benefits they were receiving from playing, the economic and social aspect, the physical and the mental benefits.

The factory has now long gone, the teams have gone, the community spirit that the factory created in the town has gone, the revenue created in the town by the factory workers has gone and I imagine some of the players to be no longer with us.

Football brings people together, this has not changed, the community spirit created remains the same, the conversation we have with each other has changed, for the better, as it is more open, more accepting of inclusiveness and diversity.

On reflection, I am so proud to still be a part of the community football scene by being a part of the creation of the North Wales Dragons.

It was players like those above, along with my dad and my two boys who have been my inspiration to continue bringing communities together wherever possible.

Who would have thought that kicking a ball could make a difference in the world, no matter how small.

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