It's Saturday morning and an icy wind is howling in the winter sunshine around the astroturf in Ordsall Park. It's put off none of the lads lining up for this crunch game between Monton Rebels and Ordsall Juniors in the Under 9's City of Salford Soccer League.
The Juniors have won two and lost one of their three games played so far, while the Rebels are near the top of the league, having played more matches. Whatever the final score, and however the Juniors finish at the end of the season, the club is a major success for Ordsall and its community.
Born just three years ago, when parents wanted to do something positive for the local kids, within months the original Ordsall Juniors were storming Salford's Under 12's League.
Following months of players and their families fundraising to buy equipment, Peter Hook, more famed for New Order and top music memoirs, came on board as a sponsor and the Juniors became the trendiest team in the country, sporting the iconic Hacienda logo on their red shirts (see previous Salford Star article here).
The success of the older team has now inspired the new Under 9's seven a side team, as parents want to include as many kids as possible from Ordsall.
"Originally my lad was playing for Moorside but we wanted to be more local and start a community team" says manager Paul Houghton "I knew that Paul Morris had started Ordsall Juniors, so I got in touch and came to the training on a Tuesday and Friday night, and it started from there. Many of these boys have never played on a team before so it's an entirely new thing for them."
Manchester United, based almost across the road, paid for Paul's coaching course and train the players twice a week, while Salford Council has reduced the rent on the astroturf home pitch. The team wants to play on grass but local schools haven't exactly been co-operative in lending out their fields, even though the schools are attended by most of the players. Meanwhile, the Under 9's strip has been passed down by the older Juniors team, and has socks and shorts missing with the shirts all looking a bit ragged.
"We'd like to see the boys with their own kit, it's all a bit mismatched" explains Paul "And we don't really want to go back to Hooky and push our luck."
The new Under 9's team is now looking for a sponsor, and in return they will find a team that's totally fired up to go places…
As the game kicks off the Rebels look dangerous and organised but Ordsall soon get their game together with some top passing football and great individual skills. By half time Ordsall are 3-1 up against Monton, but their more established opponents fight back to force a 4-4 draw by the final whistle.
This is schoolboy football at its best, and when the scouts from Old Trafford come calling it would be great to see Ordsall Juniors Under 9's in a smart new kit.
Anyone interested in sponsoring the team please contact Paul Houghton on 07762 978657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ordsall Juniors are also looking to start a third team and anyone interested in volunteering to be a coach can contact Paul too.