Loss of pitches worries Suffolk FA
SOCCER: AN ALARMING loss of pitches and facilities is causing big problems to football in the county, according to secretary Bill Steward.Speaking at the annual meeting of the Suffolk County FA, Mr Steward explained that 15 pitches in the Ipswich area alone had been lost in the past few years, forcing 45 teams to find other grounds or disband.
AN ALARMING loss of pitches and facilities is causing big problems to football in the county, according to secretary Bill Steward.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Suffolk County FA, Mr Steward explained that 15 pitches in the Ipswich area alone had been lost in the past few years, forcing 45 teams to find other grounds or disband.
"This is a worrying trend and we need all the help we can get from local authorities to reverse the decline. The present Government has publicly stated that more young people should participate in sport and we are planning to work jointly with others, such as leagues, to make our voice heard," he said.
Another problem was retaining referees and the secretary explained that each year the county gains about 100 new referees but loses a similar amount. He said: "We rely on a hardcore of dedicated referees and many games are played without a proper official."
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The number of disciplinary cases was 7,274 compared with 7,226 the previous year. Poor administration still causes concern with 579 cases recorded.
On the opposite side of the behaviour record, Mr Steward congratulated the winners of the Suffolk County Fair Play Awards. The Saturday awards were won by Sporting 87 from the Bury League, Claydon from Ipswich, and Crusaders from the Lowestoft League. The Sunday awards went to Westbourne Wanderers, Witnesham Reserves, Taverners and Lowestoft Telecom Social Club. The FA Fair Play Award was won by Sicklesmere United Youth.
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A presentation was made to Ernest Brown who has stood down after many years as president. He first became a council member in 1952, and was made a secretary and treasurer seven years later before becoming a life member in 1908. Gordon Blake is the new president.
Other presentations were made to long-serving referees Ray Wright, 30 years, and Pat Ryan, 25 years. Graham Thacker was due to receive a 20 year award but was not at the meeting.
Mr Steward paid tribute to Vic Rackham who had given 50 years' service to Oulton Broad, ex-county team manager Conrad Henry, referee Nic Zarkos who was also a great worker in mid-Suffolk youth football, and former Whitton United chairman John Watkins who all died during last season.
Treasurer Gordon Blake reported a surplus of £43,000 on the last calendar year with the balance sheet showing £62,000 coming from fines.
Match secretary John Thorndyke stated that the county's two youth teams and the women's team would again be in the East Anglian Championship next season. But the future of the Intermediate section is in doubt and will not be known until the annual meeting of the competition is held.
"The Intermediate team might not have any opposition to play," said Thorndyke. "This will be a huge shame from our point of view. Other counties are having trouble finding enough players prepared to play."
In contrast, the women will have a bigger programme as at least one extra team will be joining their section next season.
Among the rule changes was one that sees Minor Cup matches being increased to 80 minutes' duration in future.
The vote of thanks to the officers was given by John Doward.