Ecclesall Rangers has its roots in 1989, with just two boys, Oliver Wildblood and my son Jonathan. Oliver's step-father said to me, 'Have you thought about starting up a footy club for the youngsters ?'. A light went on in my head.
From that day, my on-going thought was to bring that very thing into being. The first team was formed through word of mouth - no adverts, just family and friends passing on the idea and encouraging children to join with it. Before I knew where we were, and just in the Ecclesall area, we had a team of twelve and we called ourselves Ecclesall Rangers. Children kept coming - from different schools - that was the beauty of it. Through a quick turn-over of getting ideas into practise, and in a short space of time, we had our first two teams - a Saturday team and a Sunday team.
I had captained an Ecclesall Junior team in the 60s. Back then we played in the Saturday Friendly League. We were boys playing adults because that's what you did if you were a lad of fifteen and you wanted to play football, that was the environment you played in, and I coached in. And here I was, in 1989, let lose, so to speak, coaching six and seven year- olds !
In 1990/1991 we joined Sheffield and District Junior Sunday League, with the Sunday team. We won a promotion to A Division, in our first season. With me leading the way, and enthusiastic parents on board, we decided that we would be a Football Club, rather than a Football Team. The colours were decided on the amount of children and parents who supported Wednesday or United - we settled on red and blue stripes. Everyone went home happy, including me because I'd added a bit more blue ! If anyone noticed, they didn't say anything.
The promotion generated more players and by 1993 we had three teams and so on, until there were fourteen teams by the end of the 1990s. Our dream was coming to fruition - rather than children getting into a team, we were forming a Club. Our ethos was 'Football for All'.
And the rest is history. We've gone on to be one of the most successful Junior Football Clubs in South Yorkshire. We measure success by looking at how many teams we have, how many members we have and how many fully qualified and dedicated coaches are with us- so many good people.
At the heart of all this children's enjoyment is our number one priority.
Martin Windle BEM - Chairman and Founder, Ecclesall Rangers JFC.