Heros on & off the field

Article by James W Fletcher

With the footballing season being put on hold and the semi-professional leagues being cancelled because of the global pandemic, many football clubs rely on the gate receipts and sponsorship deals to keep the club running but this has been tougher on the semi professional teams who have been finding different ways to keep their club afloat during this difficult time.

As we see and hear the effect this pandemic has had on the professional players it’s easy to overlook the semi-professional players who, as well as players, are essential workers ranging from teachers right to the supermarket workers keeping the nation fed.

Ross Goodwin is a central midfielder for Stocksbridge Park Steels, a semi-professional team who currently reside in the Northern South East division. Goodwin, who is a teacher when not playing for the club, took time out of his busy schedule to speak to me about what the players and staff were doing to raise money for the club and how he was keeping himself fit for when football does return at some point in the future. As well as volunteering their entire playing wage to the club for the rest of season they have also managed to raise around £700 for the club out of their own pockets to help keep the club going.

These are players who don’t have the same advantages of a professional player, the majority of whom have their own private gyms, the latest footballing equipment or a large space to train in. These are players like you and me, ordinary people with a passion for football who rely on their daily walks, a few weights at home training to the best of their ability while still going out to work in their day jobs, risking their health and possibly their future footballing career to help keep the nation going. The players of Stocksbridge Park Steels are just a handful of the many semi pro players throughout the country working essential jobs and raising money for their respective clubs while finding time to train with limited resources.

So, when football does return remember there are players out there who fought through this difficult time so they could play football again in their respective leagues. They were not at home constantly training in their expensive home gyms or tik toking for your enjoyment, they were on the front lines keeping the nation going and hoping that one day soon they will be able to return to play the game that we as a nation love.

So as a tribute to these footballing heroes, I urge you all as football fans, when football is back up and running and is deemed safe to return to the stadiums, think twice about going to the big money clubs and instead support your local team down the road who have been working tirelessly to keep your community going and who appreciate and need your support and applaud these brave heroes as we have been doing for years for the professional game

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