Referees remain at the heart of local football, as in this King’s Lynn Sunday League match between West Lynn SSC and Elm.

King’s Lynn and District Sunday League secretary Rob Bunting could have filled our sport pages with his passionate outpourings. 

Here are a few of the best bits but I urge you to visit the league’s Twitter feed
@KLSundayLeague to realise it isn’t all bad news for the beautiful game…

REFEREEING

Coverage in Sunday football across Norfolk last season was above 98 per cent.

Refereeing standards are getting better and in reality, ain’t too bad.

DIVISION SIZE

Smaller divisions aren’t a factor as the current crop of players don’t really know any different.

We have six teams in Division One and 12 in Division Two because teams refused to play in Division One – a deadly mixture of good teams being really good and teams not prepared to play unless they can win most games.

This isn’t healthy. But we are left with two very competitive divisions.

Teams nowadays simply fold if they lose too many.

They then reform the following season to allow them to re-enter a lower division.

It happens year on year and we cannot do a thing about it.

‘Three years ago we were left with just 13 sides and after a massive recruitment campaign we doubled-up to 26 for the following season. We haven’t been below 18 since’

COST

It costs no more than £5 a week to play. With a squad of just 11, that brings in £110 every two weeks.

Council pitches cost £37.40, the maximum teams pay for pitches.

Maximum referee costs are £50 so the maximum cost every two weeks is £87.40 with £110 income, leaving £22.60 spare. Bank that and with at least 20 league games, that is £226 banked over the season.

That is next season’s affiliation costs sorted – and that’s before any substitute match fees, signing-on fees or extra cup games are added.

VOLUNTEERS/PLAYER COMMITMENT

The single biggest killer to the game. It’s no one’s fault, just the way the world is now.

Shift work sees off a lot of lads. Our league used to have many work teams, including Pattrick & Thompson, Berol, Police, etc, but they are all gone. Work has to come first, we understand that.

People seem to prefer to pay £6-7 for a 20-30 minute game on Astroturf as opposed to a 90-minute game on grass at the weekend.

The amount of people who ‘call off’ on a Sunday morning is also shocking.

SUMMARY

Sunday football, for us, is treading water. We aren’t sinking though, far from it.

We regularly replace the folding sides so there is a need for Sunday football out there.

Three years ago we were left with just 13 sides and after a massive recruitment campaign we doubled-up to 26 for the following season.

We haven’t been below 18 since.

Sunday, and local in general, football, can be resurrected but it isn’t down to referees, money, facilities, divisions, size of the medals or a lack of
half-time oranges.

It is down to the young, and youngish, men of West Norfolk to save local football.

Fingers get pointed at the people behind the leagues and at the county FA but ultimately, if lads don’t get out and start playing, it will disappear.

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