Club Stalwarts Hang Up Their Coaching Boots After 50 Years

Two of Stalybridge Celtic Juniors most committed grassroots football volunteers, with a combined service of fifty years, have decided to hang up their coaching boots.

Garry Pearce, who first volunteered in 1993, has served as manager for several Celtic Juniors teams in the 90s and early 2000s, has been an integral part of the Soccer School since its inception, and was club Chairman for ten years, has stepped back from his coaching role to enjoy his retirement from work and spend more time with his involvement in walking football.

Carl Whitehead, who first volunteered when his son Charlie started playing at under 7s and saw the team all the way though to under 16s, has served as vice-chairman and most recently club secretary, putting in countless hours behind the scenes. Carl has also been an essential part of the Soccer School taking the older age groups for many years. Carl has decided to call time on his coaching days. Both will still be involved behind the scenes to help out at work party days and will be at the end of the phone for any young coaches who need their advice.

Club Chairman Mike Taylor said:

‘I was incredibly sad to hear the news that both Garry and Carl have made the decision to retire from the voluntary roles at the club. I cannot express how much they will be missed by everyone.

They have both played a pivotal role in providing our weekly sessions and creating the Soccer School as we, and hundreds of local families, know it today. They have always been first to arrive and last to leave.

I’m sure everyone who has been a part of the club in the last 25 years will join me in thanking them both for their long service and wish them well in their retirement. Enjoy your weekends gentlemen, you’ve certainly earned the rest.’

Both have been pillars of the club and have played a huge role in making Stalybridge Celtic Juniors one of the best run, largest and most well-respected true grassroots football clubs in the North West. Their commitment to the Soccer School has meant they have played a part in hundreds, if not thousands, of young footballers lives in Stalybridge and Tameside.

Garry Pearce (left) and Carl Whitehead

Volunteers at the club have also shared their well wishes:

Garry and Carl I would like to thank you both for all the effort you have put in to making Celtic a fantastic club for all the juniors involved. Volunteers like yourselves are the lifeblood of the grassroots game and you will be sorely missed.

Paul Wainright,under 11s coach

Massive thanks to Garry and Carl for all their continuous support over the four years I’ve been a part of the club. You have helped me out and guided me when I’ve become a bit lost and to be where I am now I have a lot of thanks to you for that.

Vicky Haynes, under 9s coach

Blue & White through and through both of you and the reason the club is as big as it is today.

Adam Rawson, under 12s coach

End of an era. I remember Garry coaching my son Matthew at just short of four years old at the Soccer School, then offering him a place on the team at under 7s, 12 years on and he’s now under 16s. I can’t imagine how many hours you and Carl have put in and how many kids you must have coached.

Jill Jones, under 16s coach

The two volunteers have seen countless players pass through the club, some joining at four years old and going all the way through to under 16s, whilst others have moved on to professional clubs to pursue a career in the game after being scouted playing for Celtic Juniors.

From everyone at Stalybridge Celtic Juniors, all the children and families you have had a positive impact on, and from the wider grassroots football community, thank you Garry and Carl!

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