Report by Lawrie Parsons
After reduced fixture lists in the past two weeks, it is full steam ahead as the Gray Hooper Holt Mid Sussex Mid Sussex Football League provides full fixtures lists from this coming Saturday (7 September). Despite a disturbing decline nationally in the 11 v 11 game the League has managed to maintain the number of teams and increased the number of clubs since the Crawley & District Football League was dissolved at the end of the 2009 - 2010 season, after which most of that League’s clubs opted to move to the Mid Sussex League to play their football. This season sees 140 teams of 79 clubs competing in the League’s fourteen divisions and twelve Saturday challenge cup competitions while the Fred Pretty Veterans Cup, the only competition of its type in Sussex which this year has an entry of 28 teams in an area extending from South Godstone in the north to Brighton in the south with the clubs drawn in four groups and each playing approximately one group match a month until February when the competition goes into the quarter-final knockout stage
Alhough no longer at Step 7 in the FA National League System, a status which the it is aiming to resume, the League is able to maintain a presence in the biennial FA Inter-League Cup and, after going under to Jersey the eventual winners in St Helier two years ago, the representative team has a somewhat shorter journey when it travels to Shoreham a week Saturday (14 September) to meet the Brighton, Hove & District League in a preliminary round tie in the competition commencing at 2pm. If successful, manager Richard Nelson’s squad will travel again in the first round where it will meet the Herts Senior League in mid-October.
Last season the League secured a silver award as the south east regional winners in the FA’s Respect and Fair Play Awards of which part of the prize was £1,500 towards training courses, in connection with which the League’s Management Committee is currently considering ways the money can be spent to give the greatest good to the greatest number of its member clubs.
In the coming season the league will maintain its longstanding Merit Awards, that provide monetary rewards on a division by division basis not only for on-field activities but also takes into account club administration. The awards would not be possible without sponsorship and in this respect Gray Hooper Holt LLP Solicitors of Redhill, and more recently Haywards Heath, will be sponsoring the league for the sixteenth season which is one of the longest, if not the longest, consecutive sponsorship in English football.
The League Management Committee is hoping it does not face another season like the last when bad weather resulted in it only just being able to determine divisional winners and runners-up at the expense of the abandonment of two knockout cup competitions and is assisted this year by most divisions having eleven or fewer teams.