...And the community clubs who help them shine
ECKINGTON Junior Under-11s have been nominated for the Junior Team of the Year title in the Gloucestershire Media Sports Awards after a magnificent 2012/13 campaign.
Stepping up an age group to compete against players a year older such was the level of talent in their squad, Eckington lost only one match all season – to their Under-12 counterparts.
They finished runners-up in the Evesham Ambassador League, behind Eckington Under-12s and they will now switch to the new nine versus nine pilot scheme in the Worcestershire FA Youth League on Saturdays.
Managed by John Oliver, Eckington's success has seen several members of their squad snapped up by professional clubs, including goalkeeper Connor Howard, who has been on the books of Cheltenham Town since the age of eight.
Bring a friend to Zumba Toning on Fridays 5-6pm and get your...View details
Bring a friend to Natasha’s “Zumba toning” class on Fridays at 5-6pm, and get your class half for only £3.50. Offer open to non-members. Contact Natasha on 07747 080929 for details.
Terms: Class running at Fitness4Less, Grovenor terrace. Non-members welcome!
Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014
Oliver's sons Ben and Matt both shone last term, with Ben also joining the Robins' Academy, while twin brother Matt has decided to concentrate on rugby with Bredon.
As well as their league success, Eckington entered several six-a-side tournaments and won every single one.
They were victorious at Pegasus, Worcester Colts, Worcester City, Barometrics and a Cheltenham Town competition, beating a West Brom development team.
They qualified for a national event at St George's Park, where they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by a schools team from Preston – no disgrace for a small village side.
Among the players to star for Eckington are defenders George Kirkland, Jim Whitmore, Noah Hart and Max Randall.
Skipper Whitmore has been the subject of interest from Cheltenham and West Brom.
In midfield Matt Sine lines up alongside the Oliver twins.
Up front top scorer Max Broothwood and Alex Edbdon have been picked up by the Baggies and the Robins respectively.
Another all-round sportsman Dan Holland has also done well when called upon in goal, but he does not play during the summer months due to his cricket commitments.
Manager John Oliver, a PE teacher at Churchdown School said: "We started the club five years ago, with six kids having a kick about before we first entered a league," he said.
"We now have 165 members from Under-sevens to Under-13s and two teams at each age group. The core of the teams are boys from the village and we've won tournament after tournament with these boys.
"Some of them won't play this season because they are attached to professional clubs, but we'll keep the team going with some new lads coming in."