Norfolk football ready to restart with Anglian Combination competitions
- Credit: Archant
Excitement is building amongst the Norfolk football community ahead of this weekend’s return to competitive action.
The Anglian Combination kicks off their three Return to Football competitions on Saturday meaning that once again football pitches will look as they should... with 22 players (for the most part) giving their all for their local side.
At one stage it looked like we were going to lose another football season at non elite level but Norfolk FA tried to salvage what they could out of the campaign by canvassing opinion from Anglian Combination sides on whether they would like to enter a cup competition.
Sixty-eight teams responded positively and this weekend will see the group stages start of the Return to #Norfolk Football Premier Cup, Intermediate Cup and Minor Cup in association with the Offside Trust.
Football Services manager at Norfolk FA, Matt Carpenter, admits he can’t wait to see football get going once again in the region.
“Everyone has missed their football and everybody is keen to get back,” he said. “It’s an individual situation and I don’t doubt that in teams there may be some players that have had a particularly rough experience over the last 12 months who may not be quite so keen.
“I know there are some match officials who would rather wait for the next season but there’s another group like the players who can’t wait to get going again and see what we can salvage from what has been an awful season for everyone involved.”
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The competitions have been devised to minimise travel during the group stages whilst also having teams of a comparable level come up against each other.
“We wanted to make sure that as best as we could that there wasn’t too much travelling involved and tried to split it into regions,” added Carpenter.
“We didn’t want to have a situation where a Premier Division team is playing against a Division Four team just because they were near each other as well.
“There’s three competitions so hopefully teams will be playing each other nearby and playing teams at a comparable level.
“We should get a good variety and obviously once we’ve finished the group stages, we then move on to a knockout competition which will be wider spread and conclude with three finals in early June.”
Norfolk FA had looked at whether a competition could be organised for teams at steps 3-6, but with spectators not being allowed to go to matches under the current restrictions, this was a non-starter.
Carpenter told BBC’s Local Report: “One of the key criteria for that was for spectators to be permitted as clubs at this level have higher expenses but the current guidelines prevent this.
“The Senior Cup is still going and some of the clubs are in that and we’ve got a couple of clubs in the (FA) Vase but the extra competition for clubs 3-6, we had to pull the plug on that one sadly.
“But everyone is very much looking forward to it (Return to Football competitions) as much as everybody else. Everybody who works in football, we do it because we love the sport, and it will be great to have it back.”
It won’t be the only competition back on the agenda this weekend with the Norwich Sunday League also restarting.
League secretary Kevin Brown is confident they can finish the 2020/21 season by June.
“Because we only had 10 teams in each division meaning only a maximum of 18 games it has made a big difference to us,” he said. “We decided not to have a cup competition because we knew things could be tight and that’s made it easier.
“We’ve got 49 clubs in total and 41 said they want to play. Because there are a number of teams that can’t carry on we’ve expunged their results so there won’t be any promotion or relegation but with the Sunday League there will be natural movement.
“It could be the case that the teams at the top of the division will naturally move up anyway.
“We will award winners of each league medals as we would do normally as well.”
The Offside Trust Return to #NorfolkFootball Premier Cup
East: Acle United v Norwich United U21s, Caister v Blofield United
South: Easton v Yelverton, Scole United v Harleston Town
West: Heacham v Mundford, UEA v Fakenham Town Res
Central: Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers v Sprowston Athletic, Stalham Town v Thorpe St Andrew
The Offside Trust Return to #NorfolkFootball Intermediate Cup
North: Martham v Buxton, North Walsham v South Walsham
East: AC Mill Lane v Belton, Great Yarmouth Town Res v Hemsby
South: Attleborough Town Res v Earsham, Poringland Wands v Long Stratton Res
West: Swaffham Town Res v Castle Acre Swifts, Wells Town v Holt United
Central: Norwich CEYMS Res v Costessey Sports, Thorpe St Andrew Res v Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Res
The Offside Trust Return to #NorfolkFootball Minor Cup
East: Celt Rangers v Martham Res, Shrublands v AC Mill Lane Res
South: Harleston Town Res v Mulbarton Wands Res, Tacolneston v Mundford Res, Yelverton Res v Poringland Wands Res
West: Holt United Res v Briston, Necton v Wells Town
Central: Blofield United Res v Acle United Res, Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers A v Easton Res, Norwich Eagles v Stalham Town Res