Sale United was first formed in 1975, being the brainchild of Ken Wilkinson. His idea was to start a junior football team to provide lads in Sale with the opportunity to play football, not just the good footballers, but everyone.
The committee included two ex-professional footballers, Harry Dowd and Derek Partridge. A charity match between a Manchester City All Stars team and a Merseyside All Stars team provided the much needed funds to start the Club off and gain entry to the Timperley & District League.
That first year the Club was able to field three teams, Under 11, Under 12 & Under 13. Over the course of our 40 years, that original concept by Ken has never changed, only extended. We still invite lads to join, regardless of their ability, but 2000 saw the introduction of a girls section.
The Football Association introduced Mini-Soccer in the late 90s, the theory being that with teams consisting of only 7 players, the children would increase their skills quicker because they would have more touches of the ball. When the players reach Under 11 they take one step further by playing 9-a-side and with the introduction of the offside rule.
Through an initiative by Stewart Hamer, the Club Secretary & Development officer, a program aimed at introducing football skills to pre-school children called “Gimme 5s” was started in June 2004. This program currently runs five sessions a week where, in its ten years, over 800 children have been taught fundamental skills through fun exercises aimed at stretching their imagination .One minute they may be spacemen, the next minute they might be pirates or Formula One racing drivers. All such scenarios are carried out where the children have their own individual ball to control.
In 2001 we started a project whereby each year we offer our Under 13s boys the opportunity to play football in Holland during Whit week. Over the years, 235 boys have benefited from this experience. The project isn’t just about playing football matches. There is an emphasis on team work both on and off the field of play. Very often the season following a trip the benefit can be seen. This season last year’s Holland squad have achieved an entire season winning every game they have played.
In May 2002 the Club was awarded the Football Association Charter Standard Development Club. This is in recognition that the Club operates in a quality way, has a total social inclusion policy for its members, and has a mechanism to provide players with the opportunity to play football from a very young age right through to adulthood. The Club was recognised as Trafford’s Sports Club of the Year in 2004 and continues to be nominated for this award.
In 2008 we started a Powerchair squad which caters for disabled players who are dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. There is an official 4-a-side game played with powered wheelchairs which even has its own World Cup. We have increased our membership of this section to such an extent that we now have two squads competing at National level. Due to the rules governing this sport we needed to create a second club identity, and were pleased when the Manchester United Foundation agreed that we could work in partnership with them to create a team under the banner of Manchester United. In their first season they established their position in the National League and became the Northwest Powerchair League champions.
In 2011 the Club was recognised by the National FA and awarded the accolade of “National grassroots football club of the year” in recognition of the work being carried out in the name of the ‘Respect Campaign. The award was presented by the Prime Minister David Cameron at Wembley Stadium just prior to the 2011 FA Cup Final won by Manchester City.
In the same year Cheshire County FA recognised the Club as their FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year, and this was followed in 2014 by being awarded the FA Charter Standard Community Club of the Year.
In recent years Sport Trafford have awarded Sale United members with Trafford’s Coach of the Year award on three occasions; won by Angela Cullen, Stewart Heywood and Stuart Jenkinson. In 2014 Manchester Sports Development awarded Coach of the Year to John Gilmore who coaches the Powerchair squads.
The Club’s main base is the Crossford Bridge site which it shares with the Old Alts Football Club and Sale Harriers. Unfortunately the site is not big enough to service games for all the teams, and we have a number of ‘satellite’ sites.
None of the achievements listed above would have been possible without the dedication of our adult volunteers, over 70 in number, many of whom have progressed to high levels with their coach education. It is testimony to their knowledge, expertise and dedication that many of our young players are sought after by scouts from professional clubs. Examples of such success are Shay Facey and Greg Leigh, both England Internationals at youth level and are at Manchester City. Scott Leather, currently playing at Altrincham FC also started his football at Sale United.
Currently the Club is working hard, through the Crossford Bridge Management Association to develop the Crossford Bridge site as a Centre for Sporting Excellence. This includes a proposal to site a 3rd generation artificial surface floodlit pitch which will enable the club to extend further its range of activities.