Uppermill FC toasts centenary with historic league title

UPPERMILL FC has the ultimate centenary memento – sealing its first ever Manchester League title.

Now for the ‘sleeping giant’ of a football club to move forward on and off the pitch.

A 4-2 win at Hindsford AFC on Saturday, May 18 sealed the Premier Division success, representing a remarkable rise under the stewardship of manager Mark Howard.

But while there has been plenty of celebrating, the focus is very much on the future, with an application to join the North West Counties League and the non-league pyramid on the agenda.

The first step towards that is a likely groundshare at near neighbours Mossley AFC’s Seel Park from next season – a move Mark believes needs to happen.

He said: “We’re trying to move forward and the Mossley move would be a great achievement from where we’ve come from – when chairman Steve Southern and I came into the club, we were second bottom of Division One.

“And it would help us move forward massively. We want to be in the North West Counties League and that was our aim at the start.

“For me, when you look at the club and the structure it has, it’s a bit of a sleeping giant. There’s the potential the club’s got now – all our junior teams are successful and that’s the future.

“For us to hopefully go to the North West Counties League, hopefully as that’s where we’ll pushing towards, we’d have the facility at Mossley and it would be another string to our bow.

“It would make it attractive for players who’d want to play at Seel Park, we’d be able to do things like sponsor days and we’d have a bar facility as Uppermill FC doesn’t even have its own home.

“I think it’s the only club in the local area – cricket, rugby or football – that doesn’t have a clubhouse. Everyone else has their own facility.”

If Uppermill FC play at Mossley, do noy think it would be abandoning Saddleworth. Longer-term plans are being worked on regarding getting a footprint in the area.

For the time being, however, it is celebration after a brilliant season was capped with the title. The only downside is their remaining match is away rather than at Churchill Playing Fields.

And, if anything, an 8-0 loss at Rochdale Sacred Heart roved the catalyst – nine wins in 11 games saw them home.

“I’d have loved it to have been there,” Mark added.

“That win was smashing. It’s been a long season but I’m glad we did it with one game left. I’m happy.

“And I don’t think there were any nerves going to Hindsford. We were positive and the mindset was, ‘We’ve got to go and be the team we can be. Trust ourselves and let it happen.’ It did.

“We had a catastrophic day at Rochdale Sacred Heart, we were awful, and we had a meeting in the week after it, where a few opinions and differences were aired.

“Since then, we’ve kicked on. Having that get together was probably the best thing we did all season.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Steve, he’s worked relentlessly and deserves all the credit. We came in when we were second bottom of Division One, we got out of it but were relegated straight away.

“But we were runners-up last season and were determined to stay at the top. What an achievement in our centenary year.

“It’s the first time we’ve won it. Not a bad way to toast 100 years and we’re very proud as club -= the players have to go out in all weathers and work their socks off. We just point them in the right direction.

“And seven of the squad at Hindsford were lads who’ve come through at the club. Others are local lads who played at higher levels – like Jack Poxon and Luke Heron – but came in and helped guide us. They gave the players that bit of belief.

“Training improved just by having a couple of extra players who’d played at higher levels and expected certain standards.”

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