From West Ham to Wingate. David’s as passionate as ever ...


He strolled into the room like the Pied Piper, and everyone followed. Smiling from ear to ear, it was as though he was walking into his barmitzvah. The room warmed up almost immediately. He was greeted with hugs and l’chaims as his Maccabi football family slapped him on the back for a job well done.

Lord Kestenbaum likened the celebration to an early seder night. Redbridge JCC played great hosts, but you probably couldn’t have squeezed all the people whose lives the great man has touched into his beloved Upton Park.

Without David, the MGBSFL wouldn’t be what it is today. At it’s peak, it housed 65 teams. Now we’re down to 41. That’s not David’s fault, despite what one or two people might tell you. He’s seen thousands of Sunday morning amateur footballers come and go. There have also been teams who have opted not to play by the rules. People forget that David has done this entirely on a voluntary basis, never for personal gain.

For nine months of the year, he braves all kinds of weather to get to some of the most innocuous grounds, all in the name of football.

All this in the week when Sport England announced £1.6m cuts in grass-roots football – a kick in the teeth if ever there was one.

* Hard on the heels of the Maccabi GB Futsal team’s success, we’re toasting a win on the table – the tennis table. These are certainly exciting times for Maccabi sport with both the Open and Junior teams claiming victorious at national level.

It was great that Dov Katz, another stalwart of Jewish sport, was there to help Guy Ben-Aroya and Rafi Marom over the line. Katz has devoted much of his lift to the sport and ensured that strong teams have been taken to the Maccabiah Games and European Maccabi Games.

* It’s been a couple of years since I backed a winner at the National, but given that Sam Waley-Cohen has won two King Georges and a Gold Cup, I’m hoping he can do the business on Long Run.
Ahead of the big race at Aintree, Sam said: “Even riding in it, never mind winning it, was an early dream of mine when I started out riding horses.

"It’s a race that has been very kind to me and as Long Run has had such an impact on the life of everybody in our family, it would be amazing if he could win it. It’s the greatest race in racing.”

* Swimmer Ellie Grant is my star of the week after collecting 17 medals on her way to being crowned Essex County champion in her age category.

Having won the under-11 title last year, Grant, 12, registered 10 gold, six silver and a bronze medal – claiming a podium finish in all 17 races entered in a competition held over three weekends.

She is now in training for the Regionals in June followed by the Nationals in August. Grant has so far achieved eight qualifying times for the Nationals. Now that’s what I’d call making a splash!

* I’m looking forward to the Jewish FA Cup semi-final extravaganza at Rowley Lane on Sunday. Hendon A are red-hot favourites to beat FC Team B in the opener, but the tie between Oakwood and South Manchester will be much tighter.

No doubt South chairman Jonny Davis will treat his players to a slap-up meal if they book a final date at Wingate.

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