THE Chester & District Sunday League reaches a milestone in its history this weekend with the start of its 50th season.
The league was first affiliated to the Cheshire County FA in 1963 and one of its founding officers, Frank Thomas, is still actively involved having been its president since 1984.
The league also possesses considerable experience in vice-president Ray Eden, whose association stretches back 40 years, and chairman Graham Johnson, who joined the management committee in 1985 and served as league secretary for 21 years. Current secretary Trevor Jones also joined the committee 27 years ago as a club representative for Custom House.
Way out in front as the longest serving club secretary is league treasurer Nigel Jones, who is now embarking on his 30th season of service for Waverton.
However the league always looks to bring in new faces and this year Yolanda Taylor of Tarvin Rex has taken a seat on the committee.
No clubs remain from the inaugural league campaign, although there are five who have been turning out on Sunday mornings for more than 30 years. The oldest running is Dee Rangers, who started life as New Inn – and before that Stonebridge – and have been going since at least 1973, closely followed by Custom House (formerly Watergate) since 1974, and Upton Youth Centre (formerly UPW) since 1975. Tattenhall have been a member since 1979 and Waverton since 1980.
Around 15 years ago the league could still boast 48 clubs. In contrast the 2012-13 season starts with a league of 23. Since the end of last term, Grosvenor Arms, Elton and AFC Hilton have fallen by the wayside, although numbers have been boosted by the introduction of Blacon Youth, St Theresa’s, FC Frodsham and Ferry Athletic.
The League is also delighted to announce that two new sponsors have come on board. Abbey Taxis will sponsor Section B and SH Aerials will sponsor the Bill Gresty Trophy. This is in addition to the continued support of Dale Recycling, for the League Cup, and Concorde Trophies, who have been putting its name to Section A for the last 30 years.
On the field, Corner Pin LG will be looking to complete a hat-trick of Section A titles but they are likely to be pushed all the way by Vicars Cross Dynamos, Saltney Social Club, Saltney Ferry and newly promoted AFC Lache.
Section B appears to be wide open. Relegated AFC Lock Vaults and Dee Rangers will be looking to bounce back while the four newcomers could all be in contention for honours.
In a fitting start, two of the oldest clubs will kick-off the season against each other. Sunday’s Waverton versus Dee Rangers Section B clash will be officiated by the league’s elder statesman referee, John ‘Tich’ McHugh.