The clock is ticking down as Stretford Paddock FC grow ever-closer to making our mark on the competitive stage.

Following a ballot earlier this week, Paddock FC’s application has been deemed successful and the club is now officially a member of the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL – a monumental milestone and hopefully, the first of many.

Also referred to as the Lancashire & Cheshire Amateur League, the clubs involved are based throughout the old boundaries of the county; from Preston to Southport and Rochdale and Oldham to East Lymm.

Along with Paddock FC, the other clubs that have officially joined the league today are:

  • Hattersley FC
  • Shaw Athletic FC
  • Woodhouses FC

The 2019/20 season saw 81 teams take part across six divisions – the Premier Division, Division One, Division Two, Division Three, Division A, Division B and Division C.

Within those clubs is the Whalley Range A team, currently near the bottom of Division C, but also the Whalley Range First team, who are storming the 19/20 Premier Division – unbeaten in 18 games with 50 points so far.

Manchester United fans may be familiar with the name… that’s because Whalley Range are sponsored by academy graduate and FA Cup Final match-winner Jesse Lingard, whilst a former academy star, Larnell Cole is registered as a player.

Although it’s unlikely Paddock FC will be reaching the heights of the Premier Division in the short-term, there are certainly aspirations to reach that target in the future under the guidance of Stephen Howson and a huge backroom staff including over 20 people.

Formed in 1909, one of the league’s success stories and a major inspiration for Paddock FC are Stalybridge Celtic – starting off as a football club in the Lancashire & Cheshire AFL before turning professional just two years later.

Today, Celtic are playing in the seventh tier of English football, the Northern Premier League Premier Division, but have been as high as the sixth tier, just two divisions below the Football League, in the Conference North.

Whilst it’s currently unclear which division Paddock FC will enter in the 2020/21 campaign, the club’s fate is expected to be announced at some point in July.

The league typically gets up and running for the season midway through August each year, providing competitive action all the way until the end of April.

We’ve arrived… and are ready to make an early impact once the new campaign gets underway.

Alex Turk

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