Croft Junior Football Club celebrates half a century of success

·3-min read
Croft U14s Blue celebrate winning promotion this season
Croft U14s Blue celebrate winning promotion this season

It has been a breeding ground for budding footballers in Swindon for the past 50 years.

So this year’s annual presentation day was always going to be an extra special occasion for Croft Junior Football Club.

Hundreds of people flocked to Croft Sports Centre on Sunday to celebrate the success of its 14 teams this season and the many championship and cup successes from the previous 49 years.

Founded in 1972 by David Matthews and Pat Mahoney, the club has been run by a whole host of volunteers over the years fielding football teams for local children aged from six years old all the way up to an adults’ team. Swindon Town’s Harry Parsons is a former graduate of the Croft production line, while Chris Francis, who played and coached at the club, has just signed for Premier League Bournemouth.

Yesterday’s celebrations kicked off with the traditional Under 17s vs Managers game, which is held every year to mark the journey of the junior players who have played through all the year groups. With the recently-acquired defibrillator on standby, the managers fell to a narrow, but entertaining, 6-5 defeat.

Following a welcome from club chairman Zac Josey to the presentation and anniversary celebration, a mini tournament was held for the club’s younger players on the 3G pitch before the annual presentations for teams ranging from under 7s through to under 17s.

This year a bumper raffle was held with 67 prizes worth an approximate £1,700 up for grabs to raise much-needed money for the club. An auction with golden tickets kindly donated by Swindon Town FC in the shape of two season tickets for next season took place, while an Intel NUC mini PC was also one of the star prizes.

A penalty shoot-out competition and Crossbar Challenge were held throughout the afternoon and the crowd was kept entertained with stocks, an old boots stall as well as nail and face painting. A bar, barbecue, Indian street food and pizzas from Old Town Italian restaurant Gaetano’s also proved popular.

Speaking after the hugely successful day, Zac Josey, said: “Croft has been a mainstay of the local junior footballing scene in Swindon so today’s annual presentation was extra special with us also celebrating our 50th anniversary.

“We have had so many players over the years who have developed their love of the game with us and have gone on to play at a much higher level with some playing professionally. But all the youngsters who play grassroots football with us have a great time.

“We could not do it without the volunteers who run our teams and I’d like to say a big thank you to all of them who have been involved with Croft over the last 50 years – they have done a fantastic job. I must also give a big shout out to everyone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make today such a special occasion, to all the stallholders, and the sponsors who donated so generously for the raffle and auction.”

Rich Warren, manager of Croft Under 14s Blue, said: “A number of our boys have been with us from the very start when they were under 7s and it is amazing to see them develop not just as footballers, but as young men.

“I know I speak for the other coaches in our team when I say they have been a pleasure to train and it has been great to be a part of their journey. Croft is such a welcoming club and it really is one big family, which we’re all proud to be a part of.”

If you want to find out more about Croft Junior Football Club visit the website: https://croftjfc.co.uk

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