Brighter times ahead for Norwich and District Sunday League after ‘nightmare’ season

Riverside Rovers show off their silverware. Picture: Simeon Furness

Riverside Rovers show off their silverware. Picture: Simeon Furness - Credit: Archant

The Norwich & District Sunday League is ready to come back fighting from one of its darkest years yet.

That's the view of the organisation's secretary Ben Casey ahead of tonight's annual general, meeting which will attempt to pave the way forward following 'a nightmare' 12 months.

A massive 33 teams – and two divsions – have been lost since before the start of the 2015/16 season but Casey still feels there's plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

'We don't want to lose teams but it's the way of the world,' said the man who has been involved with the Evening News and Copy IT-backed set up for around 20 years.

'I'm not going to lie. Last season with a nightmare. But I do think there's a cut-off point and hopefully we've reached that. Now we'll have players involved who really do want to play football.

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'Some teams had 40 or 50 players signed on and struggled to get 11. It's just indicitave of the way grassroots football is.

'But we've still got eight divisions and 92 clubs, which isn't that bad is it?

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'If you look up and down the country I don't think you'll find many, if any, Sunday Leagues in a better state than ours.'

There were 21 withdrawals before or during last term – some of which included sides who had only initially expressed a pre-season interest in joining the league, formed in 1958.

Eleven clubs have decided to not re-apply while the merging of Anglian Rovers and Sporting Longdale has caused the loss of one of the duo's original teams.

That disappointment has been watered down by the arrival of 12 new teams and a more balanced proposed constitution that sees each adult (12 teams) and under-19 (10) division now having the same number of sides.

Casey added: 'I'm always positive because people want to play football. I do wonder sometimes why I do it but then I remember that I do it for the people who want to play – and there are a lot.

'Some of the new teams may be recycled old ones from the past and we've been very impressed by two or three teams who are joining up.

'One club even had a prospectus about how they're set up and how they're aiming to raise funds for themselves.'

The AGM begins at 7.30pm at the Open Academy in Salhouse Road (NR7 9DL). Each club must have at least one representative – and a maximum of two.

For a full round-up and photos from this year's end-of-season awards evening, see today's Norwich Evening News.

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