The Norfolk football community is thrilled before it gets competitive again this weekend.
The Anglian Combination is kicking off their three Return to Football competitions on Saturday, which means the football pitches are back to looking like they should … with 22 players (mostly) giving everything for their local team.
At one point it looked like we were going to lose another non-elite football season, but Norfolk FA tried to save what they could get out of the campaign by getting the opinion of the Anglian Combination teams, whether they would like to take part in a cup competition.
Sixty-eight teams responded positively and this weekend the group stage begins the return to the #Norfolk Football Premier Cup, Intermediate Cup and Minor Cup in partnership with the Offside Trust.
Matt Carpenter, Norfolk FA’s manager of football services, admits he can’t wait for football to get going again in the region.
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“Everyone missed their soccer ball and everyone really wants to go back,” he said. “It’s an individual situation and I have no doubt that there are some players on teams who have had a particularly difficult experience in the last 12 months and may not be quite as enthusiastic.
“I know there are some referees who would rather wait for the next season, but there is another group like the players who can’t wait to get back on track and see what we can do for everyone Those involved can save terrible season. ”
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The competitions are designed to minimize travel during the group stage and at the same time to pit teams of comparable levels against each other.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t travel too much as much as possible and tried to break it down into regions,” added Carpenter.
“We didn’t want a situation where a Premier Division team was playing against a Division 4 team just because they were close together.
“There are three competitions, so hopefully the teams will play close against each other and play teams on a comparable level.
“We should get a good selection and of course once we finish the group stage we will move to a knockout competition which will be more widespread and which will end with three finals in early June.”
Norfolk FA had assessed in steps 3 through 6 that a competition could be organized for teams but as spectators were not allowed to play under the current restrictions this was not a starter.
Carpenter told the BBC Local Report: “One of the main criteria for this was that viewers be allowed as clubs have higher costs at this level, but current guidelines prevent this from happening.
“The senior cup is still running and some of the clubs are there, and we have a few clubs in the (FA) vase, but unfortunately we had to pull the plug with the additional competition for clubs 3-6.
“But everyone is really looking forward to it (return to football competitions), as is everyone else. Everyone who works in football, we do it because we love the sport and it will be great to have it again. ”
It won’t be the only competition back on the agenda this weekend as the Norwich Sunday League also re-starts.
League Secretary Kevin Brown is confident they can finish the 2020/21 season by June.
“Since we only had 10 teams in each division, which means a maximum of 18 games, it made a big difference for us,” he said. “We decided not to have a cup competition because we knew it could be tight and that made it easier.
“We have a total of 49 clubs and 41 have said they want to play. Since there are a number of teams that can’t go on, we’ve discarded their results so there will be no promotion or relegation, but with the Sunday League there will be a natural movement.
“It could be that the teams at the top of the division will of course move up anyway.
“We will award the winners of each league medal as usual.”
The Offside Trust Return to the #NorfolkFootball Premier Cup
Kick-off at 2.30 p.m.
east: Acle United versus Norwich United U21, Caister versus Blofield United
south: Easton v Yelverton, Scole United v Harleston Town
west: Heacham v Mundford, UEA v Fakenham Town Res
Central: Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers versus Sprowston Athletic, Stalham Town versus Thorpe St Andrew
The Offside Trust Return to the #NorfolkFootball Intermediate Cup
north: Martham versus Buxton, North Walsham versus South Walsham
east: AC Mill Lane versus Belton, Great Yarmouth Town Res versus Hemsby
south: Attleborough Town Res v Earsham, Poringland Wands v Long Stratton Res
west: Swaffham Town Res v Castle Acre Swifts, Wells Town v Holt United
Central: Norwich CEYMS Res v Costessey Sports, Thorpe St Andrew Res v Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers Res
The Offside Trust Return for the #NorfolkFootball Minor Cup
east: Celt Rangers v Martham Res, Shrublands v AC Mill Lane Res
south: Harleston Town Res v Mulbarton Wands Res, Tacolneston v Mundford Res, Yelverton Res v Poringland Wands Res
west: Get United Res against Briston, Necton against Wells Town
Central: Blofield United Res v Acle United Res, Dussindale & Hellesdon Rovers A v Easton Res, Norwich Eagles v Stalham Town Res