Jewish football - don't knock it until you've tried it

By Danny Caro, February 11, 2011

For some, no make that quite a few, around about 1,500 people in fact, the MSFL is the jewel in the crown. The numbers are lower in the MJSL but clearly, the demand is still there.

The rules are simple. You have to be Jewish to play. Rules are rules. Some people believe that the league has become stale and is in need of freshening up but the majority are of the view that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

In recent years, we have seen teams such as The Veras and Whetstone Eagles thrown out of the league for fielding ineligible players. Now questions have been asked about Holy Mount Zion. Some very serious questions indeed.

When I was growing up, I spent many happy times at MAL in Compayne Gardens in West Hampstead. There were many other Jewish youth clubs too, including Kinnor, Kenton Maccabi, Catford & Bromley Maccabi and Brady Maccabi, clubs who produced some good football talent.

Before me, my father went to the old Bar Kochba club where he boxed, worked out in the gym and socialised.

With the exception of Redbridge, Manchester Maccabi and South Manchester Sports Club, Jewish youth clubs are a thing of the past now so it's important for the community to have somewhere that they can call home. For many, the football leagues are a home from home, where everyone knows who is who and where players of all ages can share the Jewish experience. It gives them an identity.

Having also played non-Jewish sports, I can tell you that the banter in the changing room before the game is similar in some departments, discussing what players did the night before, although somewhat less colourful in a Jewish one. In my case, it's more about kids parties and dirty nappies rather than alcohol and girls these days.

I've been involved in the MSFL for more than 20 years, as a player and more recently as a manager. I have seen players and teams come and go but there is something very special about the league and it's important that everyone connected to it continues to sing from the same hymn sheet.

Not for one minute am I saying that it is packed with world-beaters, but it does what it says on the tin. It offers a platform for like-minded Jewish men to play football on a Sunday morning. We see the same old broigeses and the same old' handbags', but apart from a bit of tinkering here and there, the people involved love it for what it is.

Declining numbers have made things tough for the league management committee in recent times who have been accused of being out of touch. But they deserve credit for the way that they have handled the HMZ situation so far. They acted upon the suspicions of some of the teams and caught them red-handed.

People are always trying to pick holes in the league but while it continues to attract some of the top footballing talent such as the Mitch Hahns, Dean Nymans and now Jonathan Kurrant, it's clear that we have a product to be proud of and the show must go on.

● Montana Boca United A are celebrating a hat-trick of sorts after the wives of three team members delivered baby girls.

New dads Darren Cohen, Simon Hecker and Shuey Mirwis have already started saving up for a joint-club wedding in 2041.

Last updated: 10:48am, February 11 2011