Football in the Community

An update on the work of Football in the Community from Keith Hicks

Saturday's mascots

Harry Brown will be eleven years old tomorrow so what a nice birthday present to be leading out the teams today, apparently he is celebrating with younger brother who is ten today.

He attends St Edwards Primary School, Castleton and plays for Pennine Juniors as goalkeeper.

Harry has supported Dale for the last four years going to every home match plus many away with his Grandad, favourite players being Josh Lillis and Joe Bunney

Holly and Poppy Hayden, who are nieces of our very own Community Sports Trust Assistant Manager, Siobhan McElhinney, both attend Thornham St James Primary School, Royton.

Both are regulars to Rochdale AFC naming Calvin Andrew as their favourite player.

Holly is the captain of our Rochdale AFC Ladies Under 10’s team that was so successful last season.

Her hobbies are football naturally plus swimming with Poppy electing gymnastics and swimming.

I’m sure both girls will enjoy the fantastic hospitality at the Crown Oil Arena on Saturday


We have invited Littleborough Juniors and Bridge FC under 10’s to provide the half time entertainment so please let’s see that usual loud vocal support for members of these popular local grassroots Clubs.

For the match against Bury, we witnessed a classic encounter between our very own Rochdale AFC Ladies Under 10’s and Corpus ROCS with our girls running out 4-0 winners.


Yes it’s that long ago since the Community Sports Trust or Football in the Community as it was known then was formed as “a bag of balls, cones and markers” operation.

I’m going to use today’s notes to depict the early operation and notes for the Doncaster Rovers match for up to date activities.

The Football in the Community Scheme originated from an idea by Gordon Taylor and Mickey Burns of the Professional Footballers Association with the setting up of six projects in the North West in an attempt to counteract the negativity surrounding football in the late seventies and early eighties especially round violence connected to matches at Football Stadiums.

The intention was to use the facilities at each Club to promote community engagement and use players as role models, especially to youngsters in the local communities.

After an initial successful venture over six months, six Clubs were added with Gary Pierce, ex Huddersfield, Wolves, Barnsley and Blackpool, appointed as supervisor for Bolton Wanderers and Rochdale on 14th September 1987 with myself employed as Manager at Rochdale AFC on 5th October of the same year.

The aims and objectives set out for Rochdale AFC were to encourage more people, especially children, to play football, to encourage more people to support Rochdale AFC by forging closer links between the club and the local community and to promote the issue of social inclusion by offering opportunities to young people who may have been prevented from fully participating in mainstream activities.

These days we have numerous programmes operating including Education, Health, Social Inclusion, Sports Participation providing activities benefiting the many groups in the Rochdale Metropolitan Borough and surrounding areas and have seen countless young and old people being signposted to employment in sport plus recently scholarships in USA, University offers and apprenticeships for our Futsal students.

The typical timetable at that time was:

Day                             Morning (9.00am – 12.00)                  Afternoon (1.00 – 3.30pm)

Monday                       Heapbridge Primary School               St Vincents Primary School

Tuesday                      Staff meeting                                      Marland Hill Primary School

Wednesday                 Norden Primary School                      High Birch School

Thursday                     Radcliffe Technical College - Recreation/Leisure studies

Friday                          Off                                                       Healey Primary School

Early activities included:

Schools Programme-day time coaching only plus match day visits

Senior Citizens Carpet Bowling sessions, day trips and fun activities

Junior Dale including reciprocal match day visits, Junior Dale Christmas Parties & Discos

Match Day Saturday Clubs

Disability sessions including North West Regional Tournaments

Free Soccer Schools-funded by Rochdale Safer Cities/GM Police

Rochdale & District Cubs 5-a-side Tournaments

Youth Clubs coaching sessions

Unemployed coaching sessions

Keith Hicks