Blidworth Welfare FC Elite U15’s dream of playing the beautiful game the right way and giving talented young footballers a second chance was realised in spectacular style this season.
And they may even have Sir Trevor Brooking casting an eye over them next season after he offered his congratulations on their ethos, following his comments that English youngsters can’t pass a ball.
The newly-formed side of players rejected by big club Academies achieved a remarkable feat in their first ever season at grassroots football with an unbeaten and almost perfect league campaign, taking the Chad Mansfield Youth League Division Two title in style, winning 19 and drawing one of their 20 games, scoring 152 and only conceding nine in the process.
Playing a passing game more akin to the Spanish, they also set new records across the board including their final points total of 58 out of 60, goals scored and goals conceded and only one yellow card for the entire season.
In the process, one of the players was picked up by Chesterfield and another by Sheffield United, and the club now face losing half their squad over the summer as Mansfield Town, Notts County and Chesterfield have invited the squad members to trial days for their Academies.
“That means we have achieved what we set out to achieve,” said team boss Christopher Riley. “We did what it said on the tin. It is brilliant, though in a way it will be sad to say goodbye to over half the squad as we are now in Division One and need more players.
“Hopefully people will now bring more lost souls to me and we can galvanise them. There are still many players out there who have got the ability but not been given the chance.”
The playing style brought many accolades from local professional scouts, opposition managers, players, parents and guardians, and even reached as far afield as Sir Trevor Brooking, the English FA director of football development, who replied to Mr Riley’s invitation to the team’s cup final by saying: “No doubt all the players are extremely happy about being part of such a positive club and this goes a long way to maximising their own playing experience and overall ‘feelgood factor’ about football in general”
“Keep up the great work and let me know if you get through to the latter stages next season, with plenty of notice and if I’m up working at St George’s Park then I can try and make it along.”
Riley explained that referees had described Blidworth’s style as TV football and wanted to officiate their games due to the entertainment and good discipline.
“Many people have been taken aback by our standard,” he said. “It is just a case of giving the players their freedom.”
The impending departures mean Riley needs to recruit new players for U16 Division One level and trials will be at the Joseph Whitaker Sports College, Rainworth, on Sunday, 7th July (noon). Contact Chris Riley on 07740 587358 or Roger Parkes 07916 331170.