Friday 10th May 2019.
Our footballers on route to Manchester United FC for the ground tour 💚⚽💚
Manchester United overload 💚⚽💚
Saturday 13th April 2019.
Social Eyes And Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC Delighted With New ‘Tie-Up’
Another big step in the journey for Social Eyes FC, who have just completed their first season in the five-a-side, South Yorkshire Ability Counts League – ‘breaking news’ they are now affiliating under the umbrella of Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC for future seasons.
Both sides are absolutely delighted to have taken this step, which will be formally announced at the Rawmarsh St Josephs end-of-season awards night at the New York Stadium on Saturday 13th April 2019. The Social Eyes squad, comprising of adults with moderate learning difficulties, including autism, were affiliated with Northern Counties East League club Parkgate FC for last season, but will now become part of the Rawmarsh St Josephs ‘family’ going forward; but the first contact came quite by accident, writes Margaret Gregory.
Scot Black, Chairman of Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC, takes up the story. “A recent ‘chance meeting’ with Rawmarsh St Josephs Secretary, Bob Cooper, started the conversation between the two clubs about a collective approach. Claire Hobson, Social Eyes Co-owner and Director of Football at Social Eyes explained her ambitions and objectives in Disability Football to Bob, and how she was looking for a ‘host club’ to run from.”
Scot continued, “Our executive committee members, and the Managers and Coaches of Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC were thrilled that Social Eyes chose to be members of our club. During my first meeting at Social Eyes I was introduced to the team and was overwhelmed by how friendly they were, even though it was the first time I had met them. I felt part of the team instantly thanks to the warmth they showed me, and I came away with a great buzz and I was racing away with ideas to engage with them.”
Scot was also delighted when he witnessed a training session. “I did not expect the impressive level of football I saw. I was very impressed by the standard of football displayed, and it was a breath of fresh air to see how engaged our soon-to-be new players were with the coaches.” “Having watched this session I have to say that the ‘volunteers’ who acted as goalkeepers, provided us with another entertaining story.”
“Our committee members and Managers were extremely impressed by my feedback, and when I received the phone call from Claire to tell me that Social Eyes would be delighted to become a member of Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC, I was ecstatic,” Scot revealed. “For me personally, this is a massive part of what I would like to achieve for our club. Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC aims to be an important part of the Rawmarsh community and the surrounding areas. First and foremost, though, we are a junior football club that provides an enjoyable and safe environment in which to play and train.”
“We also promote a sense of team spirit and the opportunity to develop our players as kind and considerate young people,” Scot added. “As a club we will do our utmost to support the Social Eyes team and their parents, carers and supporters. I look forward to what the future holds for this new venture involving Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC and Social Eyes.”
“As ‘we’ say the future’s bright, the future’s green and white!!”
Claire, a former player at St Joseph’s, is delighted with her club’s new home. “It gives everyone at Social Eyes a sense of pride and excitement that we have been given this great opportunity with Rawmarsh St Josephs JFC. I feel very positive about this vision and we are already looking forward to the new season starting. I would also like to acknowledge that we have felt overwhelmed by the pieces of training equipment and kit we have received from the club – Social Eyes FC playing kit for season 2019/2020 and training footballs, bibs, stirrup pump, flat markers.”
“The interest shown by Scot and Bob has been fantastic,” Claire added. “With the amazing support Social Eyes receives from its many supporters and volunteers; I feel that we are at the start of something very special.”
“Sincere thanks to all; going forward we at Social Eyes think we are a very fortunate group.”
http://www.socialeyesrotherham.co.uk & http://www.rawmarshstjosephsjfc.co.uk
Saturday 30th March 2019.
The Social eyes massive take the proud journey to Derby County v Rotherham United, with our guys leading the pre MATCH entertainment and flag waving. We will do Rotherham proud. 💚💚⚽⚽💚💚
Proud at Pride Park is all I can say about our guys today RUFC v DCFC .
Sunday 17th March 2019.
Journey’s End-For Now….
Parkgate Social Eyes brought their phenomenal first competitive season on the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League to a stunning close this afternoon with two wins, a draw and two narrow defeats in the Championship Five-a-side Divisional Tournament at Goals Sheffield – and roared on by the Social Eyes Barmy Army, the guys deservedly collected their medals with the other six sides who have competed so keenly throughout the campaign with the Rawmarsh side, writes Margaret Gregory for the Social Eyes FC Website and the Bootiful Game.
There had been worrying rumours about the fitness of key members of the squad in the run–up to the “Round-Robin” tournament, and the fans worst fears were confirmed when defensive mainstay Claire and pacey wingback Martin were ruled out with ankle and hand injuries respectively. Two visits to A and E had been a worrying start for new coach – and Sheffield United supporter, which explains a fair bit – Jack, who admitted to some nervousness ahead of kick-off amid widespread controversy about his training methods. Anxious to get to the heart of the matter, we asked Claire about the injury.
“There was no-one around me,” she revealed, “but my ankle gave way.” Claire’s rehabilitation programme seemed comprehensive (rest and elevation) although, she seemed a little hesitant to reveal exactly what she was taking with the ice – with vodka mentioned at least twice, although she did commit to Social Eyes for next season. It also became apparent that Martin had been playing through the pain barrier in the last round of fixtures, having suffered a hand injury at Goals Doncaster. Warriors all!
Coach Melissa seemed confident. She was definitely talking the talk. “These guys have been fighting for their shirts all season,” she insisted as she named a starting five of Kenny the Cat, David, Joseph, Tom and Josh for the first game against Derek Dooley Blue. The supporters weren’t convinced – but soon would be, and the “Melissa Out” banners remained furled.
No 1 fan Rachel was in positive mood as the game got under way – just a ten-minute blast per game. The first encounter brought an unwelcome reunion with Derek Dooley’s lethal striker though, who fired four superb finishes to clinch a 4-1 win despite an expertly-converted penalty from Josh. Kenny was magnificent in goal.
Undeterred, Melissa made just the one change from game two, bringing in Connor for David at the back for the clash with Club Doncaster Titans Black. It was a ding-dong, end-to-end encounter, with Trudy entering the fray in her trademark crocheted pink hat, looking comfortable at the base of the diamond in midfield, and looking just like Graeme Souness might have done in his hey-day – if he’d worn a pink hat. Connor, too had a fine game, going close from distance, and Kenny was again agile and sure-handed between the posts. Titans struck early, and there were worrying moments for the Social Eyes faithful when Trudy went down with no-one round her; after a few seconds, though she got to her feet and left the arena, waving to her adoring faithful. With the clock running down like a Brexit negotiation, and with Titans’ keeper Paul in outstanding form, Josh struck from close range to level the contest up at 1-1. A point gained, we all reflected, as oddly, Melissa thumbed through her passport.
The squad donned their Asset-Alliance sponsored track suit tops and munched on their highly-nutritious custard cream half-time snack as they contemplated the third game and a re-match with Bradford Diamond on Pitch Five. Trudy repositioned her pink hat and issued a rallying call to her teammates.
It was a magnificent contest. Josh – who else – struck early for Social Eyes with a really cool side-footed finish, and but for the absolutely wonderful Gemma Fletcher between the posts for Bradford, could have established an even bigger lead; but Diamond came back into the contest, and forced Kenny into several fine stops. Tom and Joseph grabbed back control of their third of the pitch though, and Josh clinched a fine win with a second from distance in a really competitive match-up.
We’ve always wondered where the Social Eyes Barmy Army disappeared to between games. It turns out that there’s a direct correlation between the bar takings at Goals Sheffield and Doncaster Goals when our supporters have been in town, and today was no exception, as they disappeared again ahead of Game Four, and a tough looking assignment with Doncaster College. They were back for kick-off, although one or two were visibly staggering, and it wasn’t long before the referee was blowing for a free kick to Social Eyes as Josh went down under a heavy challenge. Up he got to deliver a stunning free kick past the keeper’s left hand to put Social Eyes in front. Doncaster College, though, are a brilliant side, with two of the best strikers in the Division, and despite the heroics of Connor, excellent substitute James and Tom, the mobile No5 and No8 combined to fantastic effect on more than one occasion as the goals flowed. 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3 and then 2-4 as the Doncaster team showed their class in a fine performance. No complaints from Melissa and Claire, seemingly distracted by airline tickets.
A gap now before the final clash of the season, and the Social Eyes support were treated to an alarming insight into the worrying rewards mechanism already in place. As Coach Jack – off to Ayia Napa, by the way – pointed out, Director of Football Claire and Manager Melissa had managed one win each in the regular season, yet were heading to Las Vegas for a celebratory vacation. Many of the supporters didn’t hear this – they were back in the bar, of course – but as many of the squad contemplated trips to Cleethorpes and Skeggy, it was clearly a case of “For the few, not the many.” Pete had his gamesmanship front and centre, looking for every meteorological advantage and checking the direction of the sun before advising Kenny on which goalmouth to occupy. You could almost feel Brian Clough nodding approvingly.
Melissa though, was indignant; she’s on her on her way to Nevada after all, and insisted that the squad were focused for the final game. “None of them are in flip-flops, and none of them are on the beach,” she insisted somewhat unconvincingly, as Kenny, Connor, Tom, Josh and Joseph trooped out in Speedos and croc shoes for the final clash with City Knights White. Not for them the glamour of Caesar’s Palace mind, or the excitement of Siegfried and Roy and their Tigers; certainly not for the late, lamented Roy, at least, as he was killed by a tiger in 2003. Any road up…
We needn’t have worried. Josh settled the nerves with an early strike, and when City Knights threatened, Kenny, Connor and Man-of-the-Match Joseph kept the opponents at bay as Josh completed a fine hat-trick, the last following a fabulous right-wing run and cross shot to give him NINE goals in five games. His agent could be seen rubbing his hands, lighting another cigar, and checking out flights to Vegas. With Tigers. But no Roy.
A deserved 3-0 win brought the season to a close, and the guys joined the other Championship and Premier League Teams to receive their medals from superb League organisers Mike Stylianou and Darren Warner, watched by the excellent competition referees. Photos were taken, hugs were shared, and Kenny caught the mood of the moment perfectly when he told his team mates that “they had done him proud.” And so say all of us. And so, they had.
The guys also raised £27 for Mike Stylianou’s appeal in support of a replacement minibus for the Special Needs School. If you are interested in supporting the fund, DM us at the Social Eyes or Bootiful Game Websites
So, a memorable season comes to an end for a special group of players in a special team in a special League. None of us can wait until next season.
Seriously, Social Eyes would like to thank Asset Alliance for their sponsorship, the incredible Margaret Gregory for her website work and match reporting, Jack and Jack our coaches, Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA, and the volunteers, supporters, parents and carers of Social Eyes FC.
Friday 8th March 2019.
Happy birthday Colin Muncie
Our football team are an internet hit with their video of Happy Birthday rendition to mark the birthday of Colin who is volunteer, mentor and leader of the Social Eyes Barmy Army, who follow the teams every match. There were at time of printing 3,469 views and still rising.
Sunday 10th February 2019.
Melissa leads Social Eyes FC to an impressive end to their first season…
The guys and girls of Social Eyes FC brought a fantastic first season to a close at Doncaster Goals today with two narrow but thrilling defeats as the goals flew in at both ends during two exciting contests on a sunny but cold Sunday afternoon, write Margaret Gregory and Colin Muncie for the Social Eyes website and The Bootiful Game.
Before the game, word spread of a new, three-year contract for Manager Melissa. The rumours caused some consternation amongst the massive travelling support, with many of the club’s supporters questioning the wisdom of such a long deal so early in the Manager’s tenure. Melissa, however, was defiant in the face of any criticism. “When I took this team over, we were bottom of the table,” she barked. “We’re second bottom now, so if that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.”
Equally controversial was the club’s decision to take a few of the squad on a jolly to Bridlington on the eve of such an important couple of fixtures. Many of the players didn’t get home until after tea-time last night, and with a long journey from Rawmarsh to Doncaster ahead of kick off, one or two of the loyal supporters felt that the preparations were far from ideal. The club’s backroom staff weren’t giving anything away. “What goes on in Bridlington stays in Bridlington,” Karen smiled, coyly.
When she wasn’t contemplating the impact of her new salary, Melissa had been sweating on the fitness of defensive rock Claire Sykes, who had been struggling with a knee injury. Happily, however, Claire passed a late fitness test and took her place alongside Martin at the heart of the Social Eyes defence. However, Kenny was celebrating a significant birthday, so hadn’t travelled to Brid – which was probably just as well – and wasn’t available today either.
First up for Social Eyes at 2pm was the reverse fixture with Bradford City DFC Diamond, against whom the guys had notched their maiden win prior to Christmas. Both teams had clearly improved since the last meeting, and the guys from West Yorkshire were out to prove a point, establishing an early lead with some lovely football. Just as the first murmurings of, ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning,’ were being hurled in Melissa’s direction from the all-ticket away support, Josh took centre stage with a quick-fire hat trick to pull the Rawmarsh team back into the contest. The third was a sublime half-volley which gave the excellent Bradford keeper no chance, as Josh fell to his knees in celebration with the Golden Boot firmly in his sights. Trudy came on – without her pink hat – for a five-minute cameo at the base of the midfield diamond, and the headband–wearing Connor put in a decent shift in midfield, but on the day Bradford City DFC were just too good for our guys, and as the sides shook hands at the end of a riveting contest the loyal support were asking themselves just what had gone on in Bridlington.
There was, however, no time for recriminations as the players licked their wounds and prepared for the last game of the season, a tough encounter against League Leaders and potential Champions Doncaster Community College White. Melissa went with the same starting five, and almost immediately it was clear why DCC are where they are as they played some lovely early football, with their No. 8 one of the most skilful players we have seen in the Competition this season. The table toppers took the lead, but after an inspired substitution from Melissa, Social Eyes levelled, and then took the lead. The travelling army dared to dream, but as the game wore on Doncaster CC took control despite a series of fantastic saves from Michael, a goal from Martin, and a series of long-range howitzers from Josh, who treated the crowd to a Cruyff turn before one of the goals. In the second half, Melissa introduced David for his debut, alongside the impressive Connor, with Claire – later voted, deservedly, as player of the day – battling through the pain barrier to hold the defence together and Trudy rocking that pink hat as she tried to impose herself on the game.
Fair’s fair though. Doncaster were excellent and fully deserved their win; and as the Social Eyes players trooped off to the acclaim of their supporters, everyone agreed that it had been a wonderful first season for a special group of players.
Congratulations to Claire, Faye, Karen, Ryan, Richard and Melissa and to a terrific group of parents and supporters.
We’ll be back to report on the mini-tournaments between now and the summer, and we’ll bring a summary of the winners in the fantastic SYACL five-a–side League during the week. As a preview, though our guys finished fifth in the table – an incredible achievement.
Just one question remains, though…
…what did go on in Bridlington?
A narrow defeat for @parkgateSEFC against @bcafcdisability in a cracking game!
Goals galore in @parkgateSEFC final game of the season!! The guys and their massive support head home to Rawmarsh after a thrilling afternoon.
Friday 8th February 2019.
On Sunday 10th February its match day 4 of the Five-a-Side Championship in the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League promises another thrilling afternoon of football at Doncaster Goals, with issues still wide open at both ends of the table, writes Margaret Gregory and Colin Muncie for the Social Eyes Website and the Bootiful Game.
Fit-again Director of Football Claire, Team Manager Melissa and the guys and gals from Social Eyes make the half-hour trip on Sunday to face teams around and above them in the table. Melissa and Claire will be looking to Josh and Tom to stay clinical in front of goal, but will want defenders Claire and Martin to be equally efficient at the other end of the pitch.
At 2pm, Social Eyes face Bradford City DFC Diamond, with whom they are level on points in the League, on Pitch 7, and at 3pm they face League Leaders Doncaster Community College White, who enjoy an impressive three-point lead at the summit of the table and who are sure to provide the toughest test yet in a fantastic debut season for the Rawmarsh side. This game takes place on Pitch No.9.
Elsewhere in the table, City Knights White meet Doncaster Community College at 2pm and Derek Dooley Academy Blue, at 3pm, and Club Doncaster Titans Black meet Derek Dooley Blue at 2pm, and Bradford City DFC at 3pm. Second-place Derek Dooley Blue face City Knights White at 3pm.
Melissa will take a look at the guys in training before deciding on her line-up and tactics for Sunday. “Competition for places is fierce,” Melissa told us. “The guys have looked really sharp in training this week and they’ll definitely be at it from the first whistle.”
The action starts at 2pm on Sunday at Worcester Avenue, Doncaster DN2 4NB, with plenty of free parking; it’ll be another afternoon of goals, fun and industrial scale banter.
See you all there!!
Friday 25th January 2019.
Football, Food & Fun and Team photo 💚⚽🍝💚
Sunday 20th January 2019. 💚⚽👍
Spartans given a scare as Social Eyes County Cup adventure ends….
It was a day of mixed emotions for Social Eyes FC at Sheffield Goals this afternoon, with a win and a defeat in Matchday Three of South Yorkshire Ability Counts League Five-a-side Championship on Pitch 6, and a Cup exit after an enthralling County Cup clash with Spartans on Pitch 4 – but as usual, the lads and lasses from Harding Avenue thrilled and entertained their massive away support, scoring for fun and conceding just as frequently. Newly-Appointed Coach Melissa brought the same attacking philosophy that we have seen from Social Eyes on previous match days, and with Director of Football Claire Hobson and Head of Media Operations Margaret Gregory confined to barracks as they recover from illness, the backroom staff certainly stepped up to the plate in support of our new gaffer, writes Colin Muncie for the Social Eyes website and the Bootiful Game.
Melissa went with the trusted starting five – Michael, Claire, Tom, Martin and Josh for the two o’clock kick off with City Knights White. Social Eyes were at it from the first whistle and established an early lead, with Martin marauding forward at every opportunity, Josh shooting on sight, and Claire marshalling the defence. In truth, the game was won in the first half, but City Knights hit back in the second half. Melissa introduced Kenny who immediately impressed with his passing and movement, and there was a cameo appearance from Trudy at the base of the diamond in midfield. The guys saw off a plucky Knights side through Martin’s hat trick strike, and Josh (3) and Tom also showed the way to goal in a splendid win, as the players left the arena with the acclaim of the Barmy Army ringing in their ears.
Maybe with one eye on the Cup tie to come, Melissa, Karen and Richard rang the changes for the second League game with Derek Dooley Academy Blue, who had put our guys to the sword on Matchday one with some lethal finishing. It was more of the same this afternoon, despite Michael’s heroics in goal, and Derek Dooley established a firm foothold in the game, although Kenny was running his blood to water up front. Although Josh expertly converted a penalty to get Social Eyes back in the game and went close with several of his trademark long distance shots, the opposition was simply too clinical on the day, and fully deserved their win.
Both League games were superbly refereed by Tim Savage.
Tension built before the eagerly-anticipated County Cup tie with Premier Division side Spartans, and although Spartans Manager Mike Stylianou and Social Eyes coach Melissa exchanged smiles and jokes before the start, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, as the two well-supported sides headed for their showdown on Pitch Four.
Who says that the magic of the Cup is dead?
Melissa sprang a surprise by naming Kenny as goalkeeper for the tie, and it turned out be an inspired decision. He was absolutely brilliant, making save after save to deny the Spartans strikers. The opposition were excellent, passing the ball around well and showing excellent control and were not to be denied as they built up a comfortable lead; but Social Eyes began to come to terms with the opposition, with Tom hitting the bar with a penalty and by half-time gaining a strong foothold in the contest. Josh and Tom narrowed the deficit, roared on by Claire from the back, with the David de Gea of Rawmarsh, Kenny, continuing to keep Spartans out with even more outstanding stops. Rachel and her parents led the massive encouragement from the touchline, almost two deep (in places) with Social Eyes followers, and with six players on the park, the comeback looked on. But gradually the experience and ability of Spartans seized back control of the game, and they deservedly progressed to the next round after a cup tie played in fantastic spirit with no little skill.
Social Eyes were deservedly applauded off by their adoring and generally well-behaved supporters, but with the Cup dream over, Melissa can now concentrate on League survival.
Best wishes to Claire and Margaret for a speedy recovery. The guys will be back in League action soon, so follow their fortunes at the Social Eyes website http://www.socialeyesrotherham.co.uk or at http://www.thebootifulgame.co.uk
Friday 4th January 2019.
A fabulous day out @Huddersfield for the footballers of our club. Many thanks to Huddersfield for their hospitality and we look forward to their visit to us in March.
Monday 17th December 2018. Match report for yesterday.
Brilliant Sykes to the fore in splendid day for Social Eyes
A win and a draw for Claire Hobson and her swashbuckling Parkgate Social Eyes 5-a–side disability team saw them off the bottom of the Championship table after another thrilling afternoon of football at Doncaster Goals last Sunday – and the day got better for the Rawmarsh lads and lasses as they stormed into the Quarter Finals of the Sheffield FA Disability Cup after a thrilling win over City Knights White.
Quite an afternoon – and with regular journo Colin Muncie otherwise engaged, it fell to the Bootiful Game’s Deputy Editor, Margaret Gregory to sum up the action.
The afternoon started with a goal fest as Social Eyes went down to runaway League Leaders Doncaster Community College White in a high-scoring encounter in bitterly cold conditions. As usual, the Social Eyes Barmy Army were there in force, causing the stewards a few anxious moments; but in the end, the table–toppers now with a one hundred per cent record were just too good for Claire Hobson’s players, although enforcer Claire Sykes was in immovable form in defence for Social Eyes.
Into League Game two, and another thriller between the Rotherham heroes and Club Doncaster Titans FC Black. The game ebbed and flowed during an enthralling twenty minutes, and when the referee called time, the clubs shared the points after a high-scoring draw. Goalkeeper Michael Gee – the David de Gea of Harding Avenue – was a hero with a stunning penalty save to ensure that precious point for Coach Hobson’s squad, with, as always, strikers Tom and Josh the prime goal scorers at the other end.
With darkness falling and the temperatures dropping, the capacity crowd wondered if the guys had enough left in their tanks for the Junior Disability Cup tie with City Knights White. Coach Hobson got that game face back on, and willed the troops for one last titanic effort, with the inspirational Claire Sykes [who must be black and blue from the number of body-ball hits she took] again driving the weary Social Eyes squad forward.
Tom fired a powerful shot into goal, while taking a heavy tumble. But, was up immediately reassuring the cheering crowd that “no medic needed” as he said afterwards, “no pain, no gain.” Unfortunately, the goal was adjudged as after the final whistle, so was disallowed.
In the end, a tremendous win for Social Eyes, and the players and supporters celebrated the win before wearily boarding the minibus for the trip home.
The players were rewarded with a quarter final tie with Spartans in this afternoon’s draw, the clash scheduled for mid-January.
Current Championship standings are as follows;
1 Doncaster Communication College White 6 6 0 0 6 0 6 18
2 Derek Dooley Academy Blue 6 4 0 2 4 2 2 12
3 Club Doncaster Titans FC Black 6 2 2 2 4 4 0 8
4 Bradford City DFC Diamond 6 2 1 3 3 4 1 7
5 Parkgate Social Eyes FC 6 1 1 4 2 5 3 4
6 City Knights FC White 6 1 0 5 1 5 4 3
Sunday 16th December 2018. It’s football @ Doncaster Goals.
Another great Match day, a loss and draw in the league….. But an excellent win in the Cup, into the next round we go 💚⚽👍
Match 1: Social Eyes 4 – Doncaster Communication College 8
team; Michael, Claire, Martin, Josh, Tom.
Match 2: Social Eyes 5 – Club Doncaster Titans 5
team; Connor, Joseph, Josh S, Trudy, Josh.
Match 3, County Cup: Social Eyes 9 – City Knights 3
team; Michael, Claire, Martin, Tom, Josh.
Referee for all three matches was Sean Wright
Tom & Josh having a fantastic day scoring the goals and a stellar display from Claire and a penalty save from Michael the Cat. ⚽👍⚽👍⚽👍 Well done all the players. ⚽⚽⚽⚽
Friday 23rd November 2018
Our football training sessions have now moved to Rotherham Training centre very Friday morning to allow our team to reach their full potential. This move seems to be working with last Sunday’s win over Bradford City DFC Diamond.
Sunday 18th November 2018
Parkgate Social Eyes FC post their first win!!!!
They’ve done it! Just four games into their maiden campaign in the Championship of the five-a side South Yorkshire Ability Counts League, the girls and guys of Social Eyes FC racked up their first win after an enthralling 3-2 win over an excellent Bradford City DFC Diamond at the Sheffield Goals Centre this afternoon, write Margaret Gregory and Colin Muncie for the Social Eyes FC Barmy Army.
Something told you that the players had moved on from those first matchday defeats in Doncaster in October. The goals had flowed at both ends that day, but under-pressure coach, Claire [‘it’s a results business’] Hobson, admitted in midweek – that they had been busy in the month since those first games, adding numbers and quality to the squad.
Wearing dark glasses to disguise a steely determination Claire supervised the warm-up, putting the players through their paces. They were watched by the Social Eyes Barmy Army, who had travelled to Norfolk Park in their dozens, and provided a boisterous, almost unruly, soundtrack to the on-field action. Their expectation was palpable.
After a beautiful two minutes Remembrance Day silence, all of the teams got ready for their first encounters of the afternoon. Social Eyes had a clash on Pitch Six the San Siro – with the City Knights FC (White), and Coach Hobson revealed her line-up – Michael, Josh, Claire, Martin and Tom.
Hardly had the game got under way than the Knights struck to take the lead, but it wasn’t long before Tom had levelled matters. Taylor came on for Josh, and Leeds supporter Adie for Martin, but by the time referee Caitlin had blown for half time, Parkgate Social Eyes FC were 4-1 down with work to do.
After the break, and with the coach’s words ringing in their ears, Social Eyes hit back almost immediately to reduce the deficit to 4-2, and Josh hit the post, but Knights goalkeeper – a former striker – was in inspired form. Although Tom scored a fine individual third goal for Social Eyes, Knights were deserving 6-3 winners.
The sides will meet again in the First Round of the CFA Senior Cup in Doncaster on December 16th.
Left with half an hour to work her magic, Coach Hobson kept faith with most of her starting five for the second game, a tough looking encounter with Bradford City DFC Diamond, but introduced Taylor for Tom in a starting role. The watching crowd had grown in numbers, in anticipation of a pulsating battle, but the early minutes were cagey, as nervousness in the crowd seemed to transmit to the players. Quick as a flash though, Josh put the Rawmarsh side in front.
Bradford City, as you’d expect, came back strongly, and Claire produced a stunning – and clearly painful – block to keep Social Eyes in front. Bradford were not to be denied, however, and the impressive Hussain levelled from the rebound after a fine save low down to his right from Michael. Jane went close for Bradford, but almost straightaway, Josh made it 2-1 and the game was well and truly on…
Claire’s sister, Karen – clearly unused to big crowds and good football – was clearly caught up in the thrilling atmosphere, telling us, “It’s just like being at Bramall Lane.”
The fantastic Bradford City, raffle ticket sellers, Mel and Julie tempted us all to buy our way into the prize draw as half-time drew to a close.
“Ten minutes to save your job,” a disgruntled Social Eyes supporter warned Coach Claire.
No sooner had the second half started – with both sides now up to six a side – than referee Caitlyn had cause to speak to Josh for a clumsy tackle. The Social Eyes striker protested his innocence, claiming that he had got the ball, but as another Social Eyes wag in the crowd observed, “the ball wasn’t even in the same postcode.”
Bradford’s excellent strikers were a continuous threat to the Social Eyes defence, but suddenly Josh struck again to extend Social Eyes advantage to 3-1 and the Barmy Army dared to dream. Bradford City hit back with a shot which deceived the otherwise-excellent keeper Michael and nerves began to jangle. Josh limped off with injury, but Coach Hobson introduced Adie and Trudy as holding midfielders, and after near things at both ends, and what seemed an eternity, outstanding referee Caitlyn blew for full time to send the Social Eyes family into paroxysms of joy.
The teams shook hands after a superb game. Bradford City were outstanding and sporting opponents, but Social Eyes took the win, and celebrations will last long into the night – well, until nine o’clock anyway. It has been another fantastic afternoon of football and another tribute to Darren and Mike at the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League, and for Coach Hobson, her staff, and the brilliant Social Eyes squad, it has been a super day.
See you all at Doncaster Goals on December 16th!!!
Sunday 21st October 2018 – First game:
Football is a new activity for the group and was introduced earlier this year. The group at present play under the name of Parkgate Social Eyes FC as they were originally affiliated to Parkgate FC.
Last Sunday was their first competitive game and was covered by the Bootiful Game which is an online website covering grass roots football: https://www.thebootifulgame.uk/
This is the article Bootiful Game posted online as an introduction to the people involved and the activities of the League in which they are playing, South Yorkshire Ability Counts League.
Last Sunday, the Bootiful Game was delighted to report on the competitive debut of Parkgate Social Eyes FC in the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League.
We wanted to know a bit more about the aims and activities of the League, so TBG caught up with League Chairman, Mike Stylianou and Secretary, Darren Warner to hear a bit more about the history of the Competition, write Margaret Gregory and Colin Muncie, both members of the Social Eyes Barmy Army.
The first things that strikes you about Mike and Darren when you meet them is not how hard they work, but how much they believe in the project which takes up so much of their time and gives them – and everyone else involved – so much pleasure.
Mike is a Special Needs Teaching Assistant and Chairman of Spartans FC, which is based at Newfield School in Norton Lees, affiliated to Special Olympics GB and to the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA.
Darren runs Club Doncaster Titans, affiliated to Doncaster Rovers FC, and based at the Club Doncaster Sports Village. Darren has an autistic son, Jordan who is actively involved with the Club.
The guys have known each other a long time: Mike, a Cypriot made Sheffield his home after living in London, ran a restaurant, and Darren was his fish supplier in Doncaster.
Mike takes up the history “The Ability Counts Project was launched in 1999 as one of the FA’s key strategic objectives to give playing opportunities to disabled people; and back then, it was regionally organised.”
“All that changed in 2010-2011, when the Ability Counts Leagues moved from regional to County Leagues,” Mike told us. “A Sheffield and Hallamshire competition, run by the County FA, with five-a-side matches being played at venues around South Yorkshire until 2016/7 when the league became independent, led by the current committee.”
Mike and Darren are doing a terrific job running the League. “No disrespect to the County FA at all, but we quickly realised we could do a decent job too,” Mike quipped.
Safety and safeguarding are key, and the registration process is thorough and professional. All players carry identity cards.
The League was then split into its current format being divided into a 7-a-side Pan-Disability League for the more able players and a 5-a-side League for players with learning disabilities, including autism. Leagues are run on consecutive weeks, once per month, played on consecutive weeks.
The seven-a-side League, with three Divisions and plays at Concord Sports Centre in Sheffield. The five-a-side League has two Divisions and venues alternate between Doncaster Goals Centre and Sheffield Goals Centre.
“We have 28 teams and just over 300 Pan–disability players registered for this season which started in October. Clubs pay a match day fee; the Sheffield Trophy Centre supplies the end of season medals; while the Twenty-two football shop provides the match balls,” Darren explained.
Mike told TBG that player numbers have increased year on year and he and Darren are incredibly grateful to the scores of volunteers who help the games run without a hitch. ”We want to continue to grow the League – but we have also now provided a ‘participation pitch’ for players who just want to play friendly matches in a safe environment.”
Mike‘s team, Spartans, were Champions of the five-a-side League last year; but it did take them some time to hit their stride. “It took us two and a half years to win our first game,” he admitted.
Ask Darren and Mike about their most important moment from the SYACL this year, and neither of them hesitate. During last season, Ian Hemmingham tragically collapsed and died at a five-a-side League event. “Ian had played for 4 teams in the League over the past 15 years – including Sheffield Wednesday when they had a team – and he even travelled to join the Titans from Doncaster for a short period.” Mike remembers, “always extremely popular amongst other players and always a smile on his face. Involved as a player in the 5-a-side fixtures he would always travel to Concord Sports Centre the previous week to watch the 7-a-side fixtures, enjoying the socialising aspect and cheering on the other teams.”
Living in MENCAP supported housing care with other disabled people, Ian was honoured by a minute’s silence at both 5-a–side and 7-a-side fixtures. “The League supported a memorial tournament in the summer also raising money for MENCAP; and we have named the 5-a-side Championship Trophy in his honour, it is known as ‘The ‘Milkshake Trophy‘ after Ian’s nickname, because of his fondness for milkshakes,” Darren told us.
Attending one of the League events it is immediately obvious how superbly well organised the day is. Mike and Darren are meticulous in their preparation, keeping in regular contact with all team officials with each game allocated to a specific pitch with a designated referee. You’ll see them touring the venue, making sure everything is in order, but also keeping an eye on how the Spartans and the Doncaster Titans are performing. The standard of play is high and there is enthusiastic encouragement of both teams during play and both sides are clapped off at the end of each game after having been photographed together.
As an excellent example of the benefits the League brings to its participants, Mike told us more about his own son, Paul. There were early fears that Paul, who suffered developmental delays as part of his condition might never be able to walk. However, Mike shared with us, “over the years aided by intensive physiotherapy Paul has developed physically and has since participated in a number of sports. He represented the Yorkshire and Humberside teams in swimming, basketball and football at the last three National Special Olympic Games in Leicester, Bath and Sheffield. We were all especially proud when he was chosen to represent Great Britain at a European Football Special Olympics tournament in Denmark.“
“Paul gets so much satisfaction from the local League match days,” Mike explained. “The days not only give him the opportunity of playing in a structured Football League, but they give him the chance to socialise, engage with his peers, develop emotionally, and form strong and close relationships with team mates and opponents.”
“Without the SYACL, all this would never have happened”.
So, there you are; a brilliant League which reflects so much credit on Darren and Mike and we will keep our readers up to date with the progress of the season with monthly updates in the Bootiful Game.
Mike and Darren are looking for qualified volunteers to help with the participation pitches on match days. If you’re interested, you can contact them via @bootifulgame.
Seven-a –side matches take place at Sheffield Concord, and five –a –side games at Goals Doncaster and Goals Sheffield.
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Visits and training during summer 2018 to the Roundwood Complex, home of Parkgate FC and training ground of Rotherham United.