Liverpool club denied possible title – but are busier than ever

What happens when football is your life and it seems to have ground to a halt?, writes Jim Stanway.

Well it certainly gives you time to think and maybe reset certain things in your life.

I am the secretary of South Liverpool football club, a leading amateur team based at the new Jericho Lane complex at Otterspool, and I can tell you that since lockdown the workload has merely changed rather than dropped off. In fact I sometimes think that I'm busier than ever.

What am I not doing? Well , there are no matches to arrange, no training to oversee and no grass to cut at our old ground at the North Field, Jericho Lane.

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What else could there be to do? The football club was in the midst of a race against time to meet a ground development grading deadline of March 31. Since the lockdown, the actual development work has ground to a halt but not the planning.

Furthermore, a recent decision to call the football season to a stop and expunge the records has meant that the club has been denied a possible league title and promotion to the next level of the football pyramid.

There has been an outpouring of protest and as result significant media attention.

Among other things, I have been interviewed by a journalist from BBC Sport and an article has appeared on their website. The secretary has never been in such demand!

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I'm also a new committee member of the Liverpool Feds womens football club, the leading amateur womens club in the city. I made my debut at a recent committee meeting held via Microsoft Teams, a first for everybody.

Needless to say, it took some of us (including me by the way) a while to get logged on properly but we eventually got the hang of it and the meeting went swimmingly.

'The virus has taken away much that I love and made me appreciate the little things'

A few weeks ago I had no idea what COVID-19 was or the impact that it was going to have on my life over the coming weeks and months ahead, writes Abby Pope.

I must admit, I was a bit flippant about the whole situation when it was first published – “It’s only a cold” – I said on multiple occasions, how quickly that changed when I realised the severity of what we were faced with.

The past few weeks have been strange, seeing family through a screen rather than face to face, being told to work from home indefinitely and the football season being cut two months early. This virus has taken away many parts of my life that I love and has made my appreciate the little things in life that are so often taken for granted.

Abby Pope, match secretary of Liverpool Feds

I am lucky to be in a position where my work life hasn’t really been affected since the outbreak of the virus. I work for an IT company so if anything we have seen an increase in work as many organisations around the UK mobilise staff to work from home.

Although I know many people aren’t in such a privileged position as myself and my heart goes out to all those affected with redundancies and the self-employed where there seems to have been a large impact on people's earnings.

One thing that I have learned to appreciate is my daily exercise, whether this be walking the dog, going on a bike ride or doing a HIIT session in the garden. Getting outside is good for the mind and is allowing me to keep on top of my fitness and not roll out of the house at the end of this self-isolation period.

South Liverpool Feds

Football has always been a huge part of my life and since joining Liverpool Feds four seasons ago I have gained another family. From the top down this club is full of good people working to provide football for girls of all abilities from the age of four. From July to May each season, I spend two nights a week and Sundays with the squad – this has been taken away overnight and is taking some adjusting to.

Our season was called to an end with a cup final and seven league games to play with us sitting in 4th position, however with 21 points left to play for I am sure we would have pushed the teams above us close.

Our WhatsApp group has been a constant source of entertainment over the past few weeks as we all try to stay connected with each other and we are now running a weekly quiz via video conference which allows us to catch up and keep that competitive element running. However, there is nothing like kicking a ball with your mates and I cannot wait to get back playing.

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That being said perspective is important, because although our football season has come to an end prematurely the health of our loved ones and all the people across the country is ultimately more important. For all the key workers in our club and across the UK the courage and commitment shown by these individuals is extraordinary and something I will be eternally grateful for.

Who knows how long this self-isolation period will last but all we can do in this moment is stay positive, stay connected and stay healthy. Ultimately I will never forget this moment in history that I am living through and the lessons it has taught me.

This is the latest in the ECHO’s series of Coronavirus Diaries, focusing on people’s individual experiences during this unprecedented time. If you have a story to share, email or comment below.