New Essex FA chairman aiming to resurrect 11-a-side game

Wayne Deller, Essex FA, centre

Wayne Deller, Essex FA, centre - Credit: Archant

Resurrecting the fortunes of the 11-a-side game is one of the prime targets of new Essex County FA chairman Wayne Deller.

Elected following a recent Executive Council vote and AGM, Deller has stepped up from his role as Referees’ Director, to replace the out-going Alec Berry.

“My immediate predecessor, and certainly those that have gone before me dedicated a lot of their lives to the Essex County FA and to grassroots football in Essex,” he said.

“All I can say is that I will do my best to fill those shoes to the best of my ability. Alec has been a very different chairman to the way I intend to be.

“That’s not to say he hasn’t been a great chairman, because he has.

“He’s very committed and passionate and has the gravitas that I, perhaps, don’t have in the same way.

“But I’ve been in the administration of grassroots football now for nearly 50 years, so I think I know quite a lot about grassroots football in the county and I look forward to bringing that knowledge to bear on my new position.”

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Nationwide trends relating to the decay in eleven-a-side football have been widely publicised.

Attempting to arrest that decline is something which is high on Deller’s agenda.

“I first became a club secretary in 1969 and joined a Sunday league where we had 96 teams. Now, if you added all the Sunday leagues together in Group Four, you’d struggle to get to 96 teams.”

“We used to have four or five very big Saturday Leagues in what we call Metropolitan Essex, and now we have two.

“Both on Saturdays and Sundays there have been mergers, and leagues have joined together, and I think that’s something that we’re going to see more of if leagues are going to survive.”

“Local authorities have tremendous pressure on their budgets and an easy saving is football pitches.

“They’re putting the prices up, and the facilities down.

“I understand local authorities have budgets to meet, but personally I think it’s very short-sighted of them.

“I’ve just been speaking to somebody who’s had to fold a club that’s been running for nearly 30 years because they’ve lost their pitch and they can’t find another one in their area that they can afford.”

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