Players who’d rather watch than play are killing teams

By Danny Caro, October 15, 2009
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While the future looks rosy for North West Neasden (see above), Mel Beresford, manager of the club’s C team, this week told me about his frustrations leading up to the decision to pull the side out of the league.

Hot on the heels of South Manx B disbanding, Neasden’s third string folded just two games into the campaign. The warning bells were ringing before the first match — a 10-0 humbling by FC Team A — but I was stunned by what Beresford told me.

“Neasden have got around 64 registered members, which should’ve been more than enough to run three teams this season,” he said. “The C team lost half its squad over the summer, while some other regulars were injured. There was a lack of interest from players involved with the B team, who were not even playing, to help us out. They said that they would rather watch their friends playing for a higher team than play themselves. I’m baffled. It’s incredible when they’re not even substitutes.”

Beresford’s grievances are easy to understand when you consider that the team earned two promotions in the last three seasons, and last year they missed out on the runners-up spot in Division Two by three points.

“There was no point in carrying on,” he said. “It frustrates me that I did not get the help and backing from the club. It comes down to other people at the club telling players which team’s game they’re playing in. It’s been brewing for years. People seem to forget that this is Jewish football. If the players were that good they wouldn’t be playing Jewish football. I can’t believe that after registering to play, young boys would rather watch.”

Uncertain as to his next move, a core of Beresford’s squad look set to join North London Raiders. He said: “I’ve enjoyed my time at Neasden but am frustrated and aggravated by the way it ended.”

Research shows that the local leagues in Sheffield are among the only ones showing a rise in player participation and without regular coverage in the Jewish media, there’s every chance that the likes of the Maccabi League would fade away.

I was aware of it being national chocolate week but for those of you that did not know, it is also the One Game, One Community week – part of Kick It Out’s equality and inclusion in football campaign.

Last week we reported that Chelsea have pledged to find and ban supporters recently filmed singing antisemitic songs about rivals Tottenham. This week, a probe has been launched into allegations that Bolton Wanderers fans aimed racist salutes at Spurs fans.

It’s time that the football authorities unite and give out a clear message that abuse of any kind at grounds across the land is unacceptable, and clamp down in the strongest manner. As well as offenders being punished with life bans, I believe they should also be educated as to why their actions are so insulting. Instead of getting them to pay a fine, they should be made to fund a trip to a former concentration camp where they would find out just why their chants are so offensive.

JC MSFL teams return to action following a two-week break for Jewish holidays. While most players will be nice and fresh, spare a thought for Camden Park’s Michael Goldberg, who dislocated a shoulder guesting for Temple Fortune Old Boys during an inter-club friendly. For the record, Fortune’s first team won 6-2.

The third annual Maccabi GB Tenpin Bowling tournament takes places at Go Bowling in Dunstable on Sunday. The competition starts with the handicap event followed by the scratch finals.

    Last updated: 3:38pm, October 15 2009