Sunday league bosses start planning for 50-year anniversary

Elmer celebrate winning one of the cup competitions that the CWSSFL has run over the years

Elmer celebrate winning one of the cup competitions that the CWSSFL has run over the years

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The Chichester & West Sussex Sunday Football League is just two years away from celebrating its golden jubilee.

Founded in 1967 as the Chichester & District Sunday Football League, it has provided a solid base for competitive Sunday football in the area ever since.

The first champions were the mysteriously-named Interns FC, with Kingpins triumphing in that season’s Charity Cup.

In the early days, the concept of Sunday football was frowned upon by the authorities with some clubs and players forced to make awkward choices between the established Saturday format and this new idea of playing on the Sabbath.

However, such views slowly became more enlightened as Sunday football was embraced by the powers-that-be and the league quickly went from strength to strength.

At times the league has involved clubs from as far afield as Emsworth in the west, Rogate and Duncton to the north and Rustington in the east. The Manhood peninsula has also been well represented in the past with teams from Selsey, Bracklesham Bay and the Witterings.

In its heyday the league had almost 60 teams competing in six divisions.

Recent years have seen many challenges and a consequent drop in member clubs and divisions – and this is something the management committee want to address.

The popularity of small-sided midweek football has attracted many players, while a number of recent winters of poor weather over the past decade have also taken their toll with players out of action for lengthy periods and finding alternative pursuits.

Rising costs are another factor and this is something the league is striving to keep under control. League fees have been pegged for a number of years now and the committee are determined to ensure these costs under their direct control are kept to a minimum, alongside their aspiration to make administrative demands on valued club volunteers more manageable.

The current geographical powerbase of the league is very much the Chichester and Bognor areas but officials are always looking to widen those boundaries and would welcome team applications from farther afield.

Other avenues the management committee are keen to explore would be to embrace a wider age range.

To this end, they’d like to hear from any youth teams who now have a tranche of their players reaching adulthood and wondering where they’ll be playing their football in the coming seasons.

An under-21 division with an opportunity for a small number of ‘over-age’ players alongside these youngsters is, as yet, an untapped opportunity but one that, given enough interest and support, could simply be put in place for the 2015-16 season.

At the other end of the scale, the league is keen to hear from any club, pub, workplace or other group who could run a veterans’ (over-40s) team.

More flexibility and lower commitments in respect of number of games throughout any season seem to be on the wish-list of this particular group. These are issues the league would be happy to accommodate.

So if you have ever considered starting a Sunday football club, be it a completely new venture or a group of youngsters approaching adulthood, or you feel competitive football is no longer for you with passing years but fancy the concept of veterans’ football, why not consider joining the Chichester & West Sussex Sunday Football League?

Email the league secretary Colin Davis at cwssfl.secretary@btinternet.com and you could be part of the league’s celebrations in 2017.