FOOTBALL in Spalding has been given a massive boost after a historic agreement was agreed to unite the town’s top two clubs.
Spalding United – celebrating their 90th birthday this season – and Spalding Athletic Junior Football Club, have signed off on a partnership for the provision of becoming a community club, meaning they’ll be working together to provide sustainable football for the town.
The deal offers Spalding a realistic possibility of fielding senior team of solely ‘home grown’ players at some stage in the future.
The agreement between the two clubs follows a series of meetings overseen by Paul Hamnett, Football Development Officer for Lincolnshire Football Association, and will see the Tulips and Athletic working together for the benefit of football in Spalding.
The union will be ongoing with the ultimate aim being to provide, develop and run local football in the town through a joint vision to create a platform for young Athletic players to progress to United’s senior team.
Two of Athletic’s players, Alex Lyon and Jordan Hayes, have already made this transition, making their debuts last season in the Evo-Stik League First Division South.
There is a dream, although a pipe one at this stage, of also acquiring a patch of land on which to build their own centre of excellence.
Spalding Athletic chairman Andy Coaten said: “This is the first step towards giving the players of Spalding Athletic a platform to progress from junior football to a senior level.
“The two clubs working closer together is just a common sense first step which should have happened sometime ago and it is now down to the individuals involved to try and make it work.”
Tulips chairman Chris Toynton added: “This partnership with Spalding Athletic has to be one of, if not the best thing that has happened in local football for many, many years.
“It is momentous and prospects for the future development of soccer in the town are immense.
“I look forward to working with Andy Coaten and the rest of the team to ensure that the bond between our two clubs strengthens and that future projects are fulfilled to the extreme”.
This season, Athletic’s under-16 team will represent the Tulips in the Football Association Youth Cup competition.
At the culmination of the campaign, this team will be fully affiliated to Spalding United. If players then wish to play under-18 football, a league for this age group is currently being discussed by the United Counties League.
Meanwhile, Athletic will facilitate mini-soccer and junior teams up to and including under-16 level.
Their club activities, including match reports, will be published in the Tulips’ match day programmes and they will endeavour to promote Spalding United’s home fixtures through any club communication like newsletters and their own web-site.
For their part, the Tulips will provide all of Athletic’s players with a free pass to attend home matches, starting with this Saturday’s friendly game against a Boston United XI (3pm).
Sadly that won’t apply to FA Cup, FA Vase or Youth Cup games, as well as Lincs FA matches as per the FA and LFA ruling.
They will also facilitate an under-18 section with players provided by Spalding Athletic and devote space for the junior club in match programmes.
Both clubs will retain their current identities, with their own committee and financial accounts, but will form a joint committee to meet on a quarterly basis to discuss projects, events and issues that involve each club.
Athletic are always looking for players to complement their various age groups. Some, if not all of their age group managers will be at Saturday’s game. Anybody interested should make themselves known to them.
• Spalding Athletic contacts: U/8 – Dave England 01775 840938 or 07718 085978 (email email@example.com); U/9 – Marvin Scampion 07411 859827 (email firstname.lastname@example.org); U/10 – Lee Fovargue 01775 722881 or 07921 839647 (email email@example.com); U/11 – Steve Williamson 01775 760660 or 07704 218765 (email firstname.lastname@example.org); U/12 – Russell David 01775 822959 or 07802 350294 (email email@example.com); U/14 – Robert McNab 07734 331373 (email mcnabRobert@sky.com); U/15 – Paul Grundy 07702 200932 (email firstname.lastname@example.org); U/18 Andy Coaten 07595 207367 (email email@example.com).