SEPTEMBER saw 21 Saddleworth 3Ds teams return to action and a touch of normality brought back as players and parents got on with playing and watching while adhering to Covid restrictions.
The only teams to not kick a ball in anger were the open age third team who are waiting for a start date in the Total Manchester Football League and the vets who play Tuesday evenings at Mossley Hollins School which is still closed to the public for non-school operations.
The four new U7s teams have started their football lives and the feedback from all the managers is positive. The East Manchester Football League has now moved divisional placements around after September’s fixtures and the four teams now find themselves in divisions two, four, five and six.
The U8s, U9s, U10s, U11s have also got their seasons under way in the EMJFL.
The U13s are finding their feet at 11-a-side and play their home games at The Woolpack on Sunday mornings. It is a big step up from years of playing five, seven and nine-a-side and playing on grass pitches for the first time.
Carl Hirst and his U15s side also use The Woolpack on Sunday mornings and have started the championship season with a draw against Stalybridge Celtic and a loss against SBFA Blues – Tyler Chalk with two goals and Ethan Fallon have been on the scoresheet.
The U17s are having to play all their games away from home as Kingsway Park is still closed due to Covid. They have found the switch to the Tameside League a tough one and found the net just three times in September through Will Gilbertson, Mohammed Mason and Jack Ollerhead.
The Lancashire Amateur League, division five has seen the reserves get off to a mixed start with an opening day defeat at Wardle, before a win at home to Rochdale St Clements and a narrow defeat on October 3 to Bury Grammar School Old Boys.
The first team have managed to get the three promotion favourites in the opening fixtures and picked up a solitary point at home to AFC Burnley in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Firgrove, a 2-0 defeat away at Oldham Hulmeians followed.
Saturday, October 3 saw a visit from Lymm to Firgrove. Lymm adapted to the torrential downpour and conditions and with a half time lead of 6-1 which didn’t reflect the actual 45 minutes. However, some choice words at half time and the team went out for the second period and outplayed Lymm from start to finish and win the half 2-1 with a host of other chances missed or superbly save by the visiting keeper.
Training venues are proving a problem for the older teams with the U17s, first, second and third teams and vets all having nowhere to train with venues closed due to Covid.
Club chair and first-team manager Steve Laithwaite said: “The club felt the need to ensure all the young players took priority.
“It isn’t really helping the U17s and open age teams not training during this period and it’s hard when results aren’t going your way. Unfortunately this is the situation we are in for the time being.”
The club’s 18 junior teams and both the Mark Aston led football academies are still training on Monday and Wednesday at Saddleworth School.
The club is always looking for new players at all age groups so if you want to be part of the Saddleworth 3Ds family contact the club by email firstname.lastname@example.org