Updated: May 25, 2020
Last week saw The Story of SK - Part One, recounting the unconventional birth of our little football community and the way in which it evolved to where we are today. If you didn't see it - go have a read.
So, everything changed in August 2017. Footy coaching didn't stop being a hobby - it became a huge one! I was about to start a new full time job when I had something of an epiphany - with some good advice - and decided to take SK further. It was a case of "NOW is the time".
The scariest part of this was telling my mother (if you know her, you'll understand) so I nipped to the Grandparents' for some advice. Flowers from Tesco en route home, then. She's not daft, so when I got in, it wasn't 'thank you' she said. Nope, the first thing Mum said was "WHAT have you done?" "I'm going self-employed mum". Her reply was "oh, bore off Joe". Well, "bore" wasn't quite the word used but you get the idea...
Anyway, very quickly, SKFC became partners with our friends at Mountfield Rovers JFC. We started with the then U11s (who, going up to U14, Peter still coaches), before launching the Mountfield Rovers Academy. The historic local club has skyrocketed from there, with SK now supporting some ten age groups. From Mountfield, one of our friends invited us to Nevill Road, a taster session followed and our very first school partnership began.
Not long after joining forces with Mountfield, an SK parent arranged a session at Juno United FC from which I began coaching Juno's then U11 teams. Our own Austin's very first SK session was with the Juno team which he still coaches (and even supports matchday management with) today. Aus and I are still proudly involved with the two Juno teams, now U13. Both teams have gone from strength-to-strength, each achieving promotion and winning silverware in recent seasons. That success has seen SK go on to provide coaching for many Juno teams across nine age groups.
Of course, all the while our SKFC Development Centre grew - and continues to grow. "SK Fridays" keeps many local junior football parents from frequenting the pubs every Friday - well, early doors, anyway. A huge moment in SKFC history came when our friends at Club Cheadle Hulme called to say that their brand new, state-of-the art facilities could accommodate SKFC on a Friday. From there, SKFC's Cheadle Hulme sessions have gone stratospheric! Consistent growth soon brought about SKFC Mondays, which became our South Manchester centre.
In Spring 2018, a chat with our friends at Cheadle Royals FC quickly became another new project - the launch of Cheadle Royals U7s, U10s, U12s and U13s. All the teams had fantastic seasons, after which, between us all it was decided that the most sustainable future for both Royals and SK was to partner a club with more existing teams and a larger committee. SK remain firm friends with Royals, who continue to operate a fantastic U12 setup - the teams moved over to Inter Cheadle. My whole family - even my late dad -have played or volunteered for Inter Cheadle (played AND volunteered, in my case). Peter had also volunteered with Inter. Thus, it was a smooth transition and the birth of a continuously growing partnership...
This season - abruptly halted, but hopefully not finished (from our perspective anyway) - has seen the SKFC full time coaching team double, with the arrivals of Ryan and, recently, Jack. This has enabled SK to coach in Bramhall High School - a unique partnership, in which we work to build participation of both boys and girls in a high school setting - and expand our Junior Club Programme to work with our latest partners - Grove Athletic.
It's been tough to pause, and miss out on so much. However, it's wonderful to reflect on how far SKFC has come - a journey we are proud to share with so many. For SK - and our partners, parents and most importantly our players - it's onwards and upwards, always.