Sick of Premiership clubs throwing their weight – and their wallets – around? West Didsbury & Chorlton AFC is the antidote. Football got fun again, says Club Secretary Rob McKay
In a peaceful part of Chorlton, there’s a buzz in the air: it’s matchday at Brookburn Road and things are on the up at West Didsbury & Chorlton FC. West have re-written their own – and the FA’s – record books several times over the last couple of seasons. In Steve Settle’s first season as manager, they broke a national record for a victory in the FA Vase, defeating Dinnington Town 15-1 in the second qualifying round. The result earned national headlines with Settle appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live.
At the end of the 2015-16 season, West recorded the best finish in their history as they finished fifth in the North West Counties Football League Premier Division; an incredible achievement for a club of West’s stature. Steve followed that up with a sixth-place finish and the club’s best ever points total last season, scoring over 100 league goals along the way. There was also a special night at FC United, where more than 200 fans travelled to see West compete in the semi-finals of the Manchester Premier Cup.
This season, the planned FA restructure could see two teams promoted (instead of one), so competition will be fierce. West aim to be one of those teams, having captured prolific striker Tom Bailey from promotion rivals 1874 Northwich. Bailey scored 30 goals last season and lives in the area, having previously played for cross-town rivals Maine Road.
While we can’t compete with the Cities and Uniteds of this world in footballing terms, we do offer the things they don’t, including great food and beer and a warm welcome. We really try to listen to what our supporters want and we’re proud that they drive the direction of the club almost as much as the committee.
West, West, wherever you may be
We love hummus and celery
We don’t eat meat, we love broccoli
We are Chorlton & West Didsbury!
And we have the best supporters here: our two groups of Ultras, in particular, have been a revelation. The Krombacher Ultras – who would arguably class themselves as the originals – stand in the Shed End, proudly adorned with their anti-homophobia and anti-fascist stickers. They’ve organised several initiatives, including the annual food bank drive.
At the other end, we’ve the Chorlton Reds, who sit in the family stand. Their kids (dubbed the Baby Squad) can be seen high-fiving the players and kicking a ball around wherever there is space. The Chorlton Reds sponsor the women’s team away kit and take credit for West’s famous hummus and broccoli song. Barca Jim and Josh Riggs, of the Krombacher Ultras, are always quick to remind you that they are the brains behind the hummus and quinoa (to the tune of No Limits: “Hummus, hummus, hummus…..”) song, though!
Our biggest development for the 2017-18 season is the establishment of a women’s team in the North West Regional League. This club has always had the ambition to expand its football beyond its first and reserve teams and Chorlton has always had a strong history of women’s football, albeit one that has not been well resourced.
The project to set the team up has been an ambition of mine. I covered Manchester City Women for several media outlets and was the secretary of the Manchester Women’s League until last season. I’ve been working with new manager Paul Caddick to put together an exciting young team that aims to compete with the likes of FC United this season.
Thanks to sponsors Piccadilly Records, the Chorlton Reds and Truth Hairdressers on Beech Road, we’ve been able to provide the team with kit and tracksuits. Without their help it wouldn’t have been possible, but now there’s a place in South Manchester – with unparalleled facilities – for young players who wish to develop their game. We’ve also got 10 junior teams: from under-7s soccer skills all the way through to under-16s. Led by Junior Chairman Tim Manley, the juniors offer football for all. They were very successful last season, lifting several trophies in different age groups. They also enjoyed a fantastic takeover day, taking charge of a first team match. They ran the tea bar, the gate and even exchanged team sheets with the match officials before kick-off.
West is a club that really does offer something for everyone. If you want to come down and meet new people, matchdays are for you. If you’ve got kids who want to get involved in football, we’ve got inclusive junior football teams. If you’re just looking to get involved in sport, we’re always looking for people to help out.
This club genuinely makes you friends for life with people.
Brookburn Road- from the Chorlton Green side: turn right immediately after Brookburn School and follow the road to the end – leave the car at home.