Active Girton: Football
Football is certainly well and kicking vigorously in Girton - as anybody visiting the Recreation Ground any weekend during the season can vouch. The village has several clubs playing regularly, and the MUGA is much used by footballers throughout the week. The premier club is Girton United, the Girton Colts are the village junior teams, while women's football is represented by the Cambridge Rangers.
The history of Girton United Football Club dates back to 1907, when it joined the Cambridgeshire County Football Association, to which it still belongs. Vic Watson, the England international and West Ham star of the 1923 Cup Final started as a Girton United player. Its glory days were in the 1950s, especially the 1956-57 season when the club won five competitions including the County Premier League and the County Cup. The captain was Brian Adams who with other team members still lives in the village. The president was renowned Girton resident Freddie Barrett, also president of the County Association and a force in the national Football Association (FA). Girton was a pioneer among amateur local clubs in 1954 having built and installed floodlights at the Recreation Ground through the efforts of player-members, notably Ray Hankin (inside forward and plumber) and Norman West (goalkeeper and instrument maker).
A less distinguished period followed, but in 1988 Paul Clare, himself a Girton lad born and bred and just out of IVC, took over (at the age of 19) as manager and secretary, and built up a village team which swept back in four successive seasons to the County Premier League, and came within a whisker of winning it outright in 1998. Paul subsequently moved away in 2001, but returned to his home village in 2008, taking over as Chairman and trying to help rebuild the club's fortunes, while insisting that it remains a village club in its ethos, players and management.
Two teams are now fielded in the Cambridgeshire County Football Association leagues. The first team is in the Senior A league (second tier) and the reserves are in Division 2. Both teams have realistic ambitions to progress higher, and enjoy the support of capable officials, managers and trainers. The President is Lew Smith, who has some 58 years of history with the club having joined as secretary in 1954 and still lives in Woody Green. Paul Clare has now been Chairman for four years, and is dedicated to recreating a team that is truly representative and worthy of our village. The Vice-Chairmen are Chris Tippett (still playing) and Dave Archer (a former player), the club secretary is Glenda Mee, and Matt Mee (another former player) is the energetic and inspirational first team manager. All home matches are played at the Recreation Ground on the high-quality pitch expertly maintained by Chris Wilson. The club's commercial sponsor is Cambridge firm Panther Taxis, and financial support for purchase of kit has also been received from the Girton Town Charity. Further sponsorship is actively sought from local firms - help promote the Girton name.
Team training takes place at the Recreation Ground on Mondays and Thursdays at 6.30 pm, while in the winter months, sessions are on Wednesdays on the full-size astroturf pitch at Cottenham Village College at 8.00 pm. Match fees and signing on fees are both modest, and the club is fully affiliated to the County Association, and its officials are all fully qualified and accredited. The committee is building up a programme of social and fund-raising events, notably a mammoth football management competition during the Christmas break involving large numbers of members' playstations.
New playing members (male and over 16, to conform with national FA rules) are always welcome - come along to the training sessions or make contact by telephone or email below. And supporters are always needed at home matches - it's free (even the parking) and a great atmosphere, as well as doing your bit for Girton.
Girton's junior club is the Girton Colts Football Club, founded in 1980 which also plays at the Recreation Ground, but independently of the senior club. In 2011-12 six teams were fielded with 81 playing members, a decline from 2006-07 when a peak of ten teams and 160 players was reached. The age range of teams is from the under 8s to the under 16s, and players (girls are allowed in mixed teams by FA rules only up to the age of 14) can progress through the sequence of teams and be assured of careful development and help through the years.
Girton Colts teams play in the Cambridge Mini Soccer League that caters for the under 8s up to the under 12s, in the Cambridge under 11s 9 X 9 League, and in the Cambridge Colts League for the under 13s up to the under 17s. In addition they play with success in numerous cup competitions, and last season the under 13s triumphed in the Frank Mowden Memorial Cup, beating Fulbourn Institute 1 - 0 in the final at Trumpington Stadium. For the coming season, teams will be entered in the under 9s, under 10s (two teams), under 14s and under 16s age groups.
The Girton Colts are an FA Charter Standard club, ensuring that the conduct, training, welfare, child protection and administration all attain high criteria. The club takes pride in being noted as a fair club with expert coaching and management and for its concern in the development and progress of its players. The Welfare Officer Lee Taylor monitors this aspect, acting as an advocate for individuals and helping to ensure high standards of conduct on and off the field. Players are from the village in the main, and others from outside are attracted by the club's sporting reputation and the excellent quality of the Girton pitch. All coaches are FA qualified and all adults connected with the club are CRB checked. Former players have moved on to noted clubs, especially Ipswich Town and Cambridge United.
The club owes its origins to Roger Pawley, who organised the meeting around his dinner table that led to the foundation of the club with a nucleus of parents, and who became the first chairman. The club grew rapidly, thanks to the enthusiasm of its committee and coaches. It has become a mainstay of Cambridgeshire youth football across the years. Other notable chairmen have been John Sexton and David Wright, and the club owes a great debt to Chris Smith, treasurer from its inception right through to 2004. Since 2004 Tracy Sparkes has been Secretary and has put an enormous amount of effort into the success of the club, assisted by Wendy Ripley as Treasurer. A committee largely consisting of parents supports them, and the Chairman for 2012-13 is Garth Hanlon.
Teams train most evenings at the Recreation Ground, each with its manager and coaches. A one-off membership fee for the season provides kit and affiliation, and the Girton Parish Council and the Girton Town Charity have given financial support in the past. At present the club has no sponsor - another opportunity for a village business to step forward!
Each year the club holds a presentation evening, when all the teams meet and awards are made for achievement. This year's event took place on the afternoon of 2 June as part of the Diamond Jubilee event, when the club also ran a stall raising funds for the East Anglia Children's Hospices. Awards included Players' Players of the Year Emily Trezise (under 8s), Joel Tutt (under 9s), Callum Macdonald (under 13s), Thomas Leonard (under 15s) and the Manager's Players of the Year Jake Burton (under 8s), Alex Boyle (under 9s), Ben Smethurst (under 13s) and Howard Leek (under 15s).
In order to promote continuing footballing opportunities, the club has established inter-locking committee memberships with Girton United, so players can progress through village teams throughout their playing career. In times when potential players are experiencing increasing demands from study and other sports and diversions, football has to try hard to attract and retain participants even at junior level. The Girton Colts are tackling the challenge with vigour, and contributing to the vitality of our village. Come along at the weekends and support them! Additional players for the under 16s for this season would be most welcome.
The third club, playing at the Recreation Ground on Sunday afternoons, is the Cambridge Rangers Women's Football Club. Founded in 2006, it has now been based at Girton for several years. Although not specifically a village team, it was originally associated with the Cambridge United club. It plays in the S-Tech Cambridgeshire Women's County League which feeds through to the Eastern Counties league. The club's motto is "Football for All" - providing an enjoyable sporting experience as well as building up skill and fitness - while not forgetting the social aspects of the game. But the competitive side is also very much to the fore, since in 2008 the club won the Shield as runners-up in the League Cup. The club is affiliated to the Cambridgeshire County Football Association and is run by Connie De Martino (chairperson) assisted by a committee who are CRB checked including a children's protection officer. Besides the Sunday matches at Girton, training takes place at the Abbey Sports Centre at Coldham's Common each Tuesday from July onwards at 6.30 pm. A modest membership fee covers training and affiliation expenses, and a match fee covers refereeing, pitches, kit, and equipment.
The Rangers are keen to attract new playing members aged 16 or over - whether experienced or new to football - and can offer support, training and development. Coaching staff (as with other clubs) are also actively sought, so if you have experience of the game, now is the time to think about coming back to football, and passing on your knowledge, or even playing again. The club prides itself on its inclusiveness, and is always on the look-out for new players of all abilities and age ranges. So come along to a training session or a match and meet the ladies involved in this friendly and competitive club. You can even have a "taster" before deciding whether you want to commit.
The Cambridge Crusaders (an ex-IVC team) also plays at the Recreation Ground, but they have not wished to be featured in this report. The Girton Eagles, a long-standing Sunday team were considering disbanding this summer, but the latest news is that they are in the process of reforming. Check with the contact at the end of this article.
Nevertheless, the future of football in Girton is assured - perhaps we may even look forward to glory days again. So if you are still passionate about football even after the ordeal of watching the European Cup, why not turn your enthusiasm to practical ends, and support your village teams at the weekend at the Recreation Ground? Or better still, relive your past successes in football by offering to help with training, refereeing or committee work with one of the clubs? You will be investing invaluably in our village future.
For more information:
Girton United Football Club:
Contact either: Matthew Mee (First Team Manager) 07828 911497 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Girton Colts Football Club
Contact: Tracy Sparkes 07876 417205 or email email@example.com
Cambridge Rangers Women's Football Club
Contact: Connie De Martino (chairperson) 07588 465771 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Girton Eagles Football Club
Contact: Tom Miller (former Secretary and Treasurer) 07710 738101