New blood needed or association will fold

THE Suffolk organisation responsible for showcasing the teenage talents of two future England internationals plus several Premier League stars is in severe danger of folding.

Suffolk County Schools’ Football Association urgently needs new blood to take over the administration of its teams next season, otherwise it will cease to exist.

Unless fresh faces can be found to run the association, it faces folding before the start of next season after 55 years.

Chairman Neil Thatcher, who is also acting secretary, vice chairman Adam Molloson, who has moved to Sussex, and treasurer Steve Dunnett are all retiring after many years’ service at the association’s annual meeting on Thursday.

County schools’ stalwart Norman Smith, who is acting match and fixture secretary, is the only officer willing to carry on – and he will be 94 by the time the season starts!

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Thatcher said: “I have spent 25 years involved in football administration, serving Ipswich Schools’ and Suffolk Schools’, and it is time for a younger person to take over.

“It needs several people to do a little bit of work to spread the load to keep the association running. It is not too onerous and time-consuming, provided several people are prepared to help.”

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Besides Smith, who has been involved in running county schools’ football in Suffolk since its inception, Thatcher said president Gordon Blake also did a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but more assistance was needed.

Thatcher, who works at Kesgrave High School, said: “Whoever takes these positions will not be left in the dark – there will be advice available. If you know of anyone that may be willing to take up these posts then please tell them and they can speak to me for information.

“It will be a real shame if the association is to fold, particularly after the success of the boys’ under-16 side in reaching the national final this year.

“Up until the professional academies came into being we used to have access to all the kids, and Suffolk Schools’ football has played its part as a breeding ground for not only future Premier League players but also a couple of full England internationals.”

After representing Suffolk Schools’ Richard Wright and Kieron Dyer went on to play for not only Ipswich Town but also win full England caps.

Jason Dozzell, James Scowcroft and Stuart Slater all played in the top flight for Ipswich at various stages of their careers after representing Suffolk Schools’ as teenagers.

And Ruel Fox, who played for Norwich City, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, and former Southampton and West Ham United defender Richard Hall also went on to enjoy professional careers via the schools’ set up.

For a small county Suffolk has regularly punched above its weight, twice winning the national competition at under-19 level, first in 2000 and again in 2003.

This year the county’s under-16 boys’ side reached the national final before losing 5-1 to Greater Manchester at Hillsborough.

The association currently runs teams at boys’ under-14, 15 and 16 level and girls in the under-14 and under-16 age groups.

The association’s AGM is taking place on Thursday at Woodbridge Town Football Club’s Notcutts Park ground, starting at 7.15pm.

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