Football factory?

11:40 am - December 9th 2009

by Kate Belgrave    

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This is the third in a series of interviews (the others are here) with people in West Lancashire who are low paid, and/or rely on public services.

Today: Joe Nelson, the longtime chair of the large and thriving Skelmersdale junior football league. He’s lived in Skelmersdale his whole life and is still working, in his 70s. Nelson sees football as an important means of keeping Skem kids off the street. It’s also a potential route into the big time – Everton and Liverpool scouts regularly stop by, although Nelson doesn’t care for that.


“Noticeable too is the number of tiny footballers playing to a spectacular standard of finish. Parents on the sideline at one game watch as one little kid, who is standing a good few yards out from goal, curls a near-perfect free kick towards the top left hand corner of the net. The ball sort of hangs in the air, then drops like a falcon. Amazingly, the ginger haired boy in goal is equal to this flightpath. He launches himself into the air, sails towards the ball on a straight anti-gravity horizontal, and swats the ball clear with both hands.”

Read the whole story.

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About the author
Kate Belgrave is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a New Zealander who moved to the UK eight years ago. She was a columnist and journalist at the New Zealand Herald and is now a web editor. She writes on issues like public sector cuts, workplace disputes and related topics. She is also interested in abortion rights, and finding fault with religion. Also at: and @hangbitch
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Reader comments

Great article Kate. The contribution of Skem JFL to the town is difficult to comprehend unless you’ve witnessed it for yourself, and I am glad you were able to.

More than a 1,000 kids out every Sunday, with as many or more family on the side line, and hundreds of people involved in the admin, the coaching etc, out of a total population of around 40,000 in the town.

As a matter of (political) interest, I put the following motion a couple of years ago to the Tory council in an effort to get better support for Joe and colleagues’ efforts:

“That this Council recognise the extraordinary success of the Skelmersdale Junior
Football League, and the very valuable role played by the organisers of the League in facilitating healthy activity for a large number of young people in West Lancashire; That the Council recognise that the growth of the league in recent years, along with other footballing activities at the site, means that the Liverpool Road playing fields used for the League are under considerable pressure, and that the often muddy conditions are not conducive to the development of young people’s football skills. That in recognition of the above factors and the potential for continued expansion of the league, everything possible be done by the Council to assist the league in the running and further development of the league on satisfactory playing surfaces, including the arrangement and development of new playing areas.”

The Tory council chose not to recognise the issues, and voted through this mean-spirited, self-congratulatory and frankly patronising amendment:

‘That this Council recognise the valuable contribution made by the organisers of the Skelmersdale Junior League and the extensive support provided by the Council in facilitating healthy activity for a large number of young people.

That the Council will continue to support Football provision in West
Lancashire, in a sustainable way, balancing quality pitch provision against against
the resources available, in accordance with its Playing Pitch Strategy.”


Further, the updated Open Space Strategy, tendered to consultants and supposed to inform the council on (inter alia) playing field requirements, is now around 10 months late on delivery. I understand it has arrived with the council, but appears to be ‘lost in the system’ somewhere.

Joe and his colleagues do what they do in spite of the Tory council, and for that they should be double commended.

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    :: Football factory?

  2. jimbobthomas

    RT: @libcon: :: Football factory? Very good read this.

  3. Paul Cotterill

    Joe Nelson's a hero Simple as that.

  4. Tweets that mention Liberal Conspiracy » Football factory? --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liberal Conspiracy, jimbobthomas. jimbobthomas said: RT: @libcon: :: Football factory? Very good read this. […]

  5. Kate B

    @creativegeek That doesn't mean guys like this don't exist: I'll keep my view of it.

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