Final whistle blows for Sunday league

King's Lynn Sunday League is no more Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Sunday League is no more Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

It used to be the highlight of the weekend as players laced up their boots to do battle on the pitch.

Rackheath Rangers V AG Athletic, Sunday League colour. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Rackheath Rangers V AG Athletic, Sunday League colour. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

But now changing lifestyles and the rise of five-a-side are kicking Sunday league football into touch.

The King's Lynn and District League has announced it is folding after 63 years due to a lack of teams.

Norfolk FA attempted to save the league two years ago via a fund which aimed to ensure teams would pay as little as possible to play.

But this was not enough to stave off the final whistle, with just five sides entering for what would have been the upcoming season.

Club Shouldham FC has found itself league-less as it sits outside the catchment area for leagues in Norwich and Spalding.

Secretary, Richard Davidson said the Spalding-based league had held a vote on it joining which was narrowly defeated, a decision Mr Davidson says he understands due to potential travel times for Lincolnshire sides.

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Mr Davidson said: "It's a sad reflection on men's adult Sunday league football, and its no one's fault."

Norfolk FA CEO, Gavin Lemmon who was at the meeting which decided to call time on the Lynn league, said it had been struggling for a number of years, adding: "Society has changed, people do other stuff at weekends."

Mr Lemmon said that while five-a-side, Saturday leagues and youth football were thriving, Sunday league was declining across the county with the Yarmouth league folding last season leaving the Norwich and District League as the county's last recognised Sunday league.

Plans to reintroduce the Yarmouth league has seen an under-19s league set up in its place, which Norfolk FA hope will transition into a senior league as the players age.

Bernie Hardman, fixture secretary for the Norwich and District League said while the league is still going strong the number of teams playing has plummeted from 117 to 55. Mr Hardman, who has been involved with the league since it was founded in 1958, said the biggest issue Sunday league faced was player loyalty adding that family commitments, five-a-side, and the desire to watch the team they support has seen a match day mass exodus.

"The state of 11-a-side at the moment is unbelievable," he said. "But throughout the whole country the state of Sunday league is not what it used to be."

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