Founded in 1975 from a group of kids playing on the street to today having over 400 active players across 30 teams and the Soccer School, Stalybridge Celtic Juniors is one of the biggest clubs in Greater Manchester.
Famous players including Rob Holding and Rhys Bennett have represented the Juniors and we even coaxed Paul Scholes out of retirement for a famous coaches v dads fundraiser in 2013. Here we talk about the club’s history, founding principles, and some of the highlights and landmarks we have achieved over the years.
In the summer of 1975, a group of young boys were playing football in the street near Jack Hammersley’s house. Naturally, the ball spent more time in the gardens than it did in the road. Eventually, Jack asked the boys if they would like to form a team and play in competitive matches, so Stalyhill Juniors, later to become Stalybridge Celtic Juniors, was formed.
At the end of 1976/77 season, Bryan Cross volunteered to help run a second team as so many lads wanted to play and, is a club policy to this day, none were turned away. The club gradually went from three teams in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s to teams at all age groups and since the late eighties the club has continued to grow, and today has 30 teams as well as the Saturday Soccer School.
In 2000 the club raised funds to buy the old lacrosse club on Mossley Road. Despite two fires, the Soccer School continues to flourish and today hosts up to 120 children of all abilities every Saturday morning and is the starting point for all our junior teams. Teams continue to do well in age & ability appropriate leagues and competitions and travel the UK and Europe competing in tournaments including those hosted by Barcelona and Benfica. In the late 1990s and 2000s every summer a group of players would travel to Armentieres in France, Stalybridge’s twin town, for a tournament.
In 2014 the Soccer School clubhouse underwent a £120,000 renovation after fundraising by the club and support from FA and Premier League Facilities Fund. Lord Tom Pendry, former MP for Stalybridge and Hyde and president of the Football Association, performed the official opening with club chairman Garry Pearce. Other fundraising events in recent years have seen two appearances from Paul Scholes after retiring from Man Utd in ‘Coaches v Dads’ matches and an annual Walking Football Festival.
In March 2022following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Celtic Juniors players, families and the local community came out in force to support a Coaches v Parents fundraising match at Bower Fold in aid of Save the Children, organised by our under 9s. The total raised was a huge £4,825 with the money going to help Save the Children’s efforts in Ukraine supporting children and their families caught up in the terrible war.
The Club Today
Today the club has 30 teams, from under 7s to under 16s, this includes girls and pan-disability teams. Teams compete in local leagues including the Tameside Junior Football League and Sunday leagues, The East Manchester Junior Football League and the Cheshire Girls Football League.
The whole club is run by an army of almost 100 volunteers who give their time for free, doing everything from coaching, admin and communications to running the snack bar, welfare and ground maintenance. We are proud to maintain England Football Accredited status and are members of Active Tameside Sport & Physical Activity Network.
The club continues to go from strength to strength and is now the largest it has ever been, with more local children of all abilities able to play football for Stalybridge Celtic Juniors than ever before.
Over the years we have seen some very special players represent the Juniors. Rob Holding, who moved from Stalybridge Celtic Juniors to Bolton Wanderers before moving to Arsenal started with us as a six year old and current Manchester United FA Youth Cup winning captain Rhys Bennett played for Celtic Juniors from under 7s to under 9s before joining the Red Devils.
Hundreds of other players have gone on to Premier League and Football League academies from Celtic Juniors with clubs including Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Everton all regularly watching players in teams and at the Soccer School.
Read next: The Player Journey
IN THE NEWS
Bower Fold To host Stalybridge Celtic Juniors Charity Match In Aid Of Save The Children – Tameside Reporter 15 March 2022
Former Audenshaw School pupil signs professional terms with Manchester United – Tameside Reporter 24 January 2022
Celtic Juniors kick off new season – Tameside Correspondent 29 September 2021
Juniors’ coach runs 56 miles for defib fund – Tameside Correspondent 27 September 2021
Celtic Juniors’ starlet goes viral – Tameside Correspondent 28 May 2021
Soccer school reopens at Stalybridge – Tameside Correspondent 31 March 2021
Juniors clock up 540 miles during lockdown challenge – Tameside Correspondent 31 March 2021
Drive-Thru Immunisations Keeping Local School Children Protected – Tameside Reporter 3 February 2021
Eve’s marathon fundraising mission – Tameside Correspondent 2 February 2021
Stalybridge Celtic Juniors and Mossley AFC U9s provide free school meals – Tameside Correspondent 25 October 2021
Rob Holding beat the odds as a kid so don’t bet against him pipping Saliba and Gabriel to Arsenal spot – The Sun 30 September 2020
Football club scores with its prostate testing day – Tameside Correspondent 8 April 2020
Celtic junior coaches follow in footsteps – Tameside Correspondent 13 March 2020
Stalybridge Celtic Juniors plant 500 carbon-soaking trees – Stalybridge Correspondent 3 February 2020
Who said you can’t win anything with kids? – Stalybridge Correspondent 19 December 2019
Juniors Inspired by Man City Trip – Stalybridge Correspondent 27 September 2019
Walking for Charity – Stalybridge Correspondent 31 July 2019
Girls Get Their kicks – Stalybridge Correspondent 17 July 2019
Cameron signs for Liverpool – Stalybridge Correspondent 29 May 2019
kELzO unveils mural to celebrate Stalybridge Celtic Juniors – Stalybridge Correspondent 4 January 2019
Rob Holding on his brilliant Sam Allardyce story and how Bolton made him the player he is – football.london 26 November 2018
Walking football raises £600 for Cancer Warriors charity – Stalybridge Correspondent 9 August 2018
30 down and dirty with Celtic – Stalybridge Correspondent 9 February 2018
Coaching the Coaches at Man Utd – Stalybridge Correspondent 11 January 2018
New Stalybridge Celtic Junior’s pan-disability sessions kick off – Stalybridge Correspondent 28 December 2017
Pictures – Stalybridge Celtic clubhouse reopens after £120k makeover – Manchester Evening News 8 October 2014
Lord Pendry opens refurbished changing rooms in Tameside – Football Foundation 7 October 2014
Paul Scholes auctions chance to play alongside him for thousands of pounds – Metro 16 July 2013
Paul Scholes pitches in for son’s football club – Manchester Evening News 29 July 2013
Paul Scholes the ginger ringer as he turns out for local club game – Mirror 3 August 2011