Middleton groundsman cares for more than just pitch

Middleton Primary School Match of the Day, marking the first game of football. 'Team LtoR (Back row), Chris Waters, Haydn Bone, Callum Palmer, Callum Eke, Jason Fitzgerald, Susanna Pritchard (PE Subject Leader/Teacher)'LtoR (Front row), Jude Cole , Devon Hoste-Davies, Steve Donoclift (sponsor), William Girdlestone, Oliver Cottam, Nicky Hazel. ANL-150430-190620009
Middleton Primary School Match of the Day, marking the first game of football. 'Team LtoR (Back row), Chris Waters, Haydn Bone, Callum Palmer, Callum Eke, Jason Fitzgerald, Susanna Pritchard (PE Subject Leader/Teacher)'LtoR (Front row), Jude Cole , Devon Hoste-Davies, Steve Donoclift (sponsor), William Girdlestone, Oliver Cottam, Nicky Hazel. ANL-150430-190620009

Youngsters from Middleton Primary School were excited to kick off in their first football match of the year last week in a new kit sponsored by their groundsman.

Stephen Donoclift, of SER Grounds Maintenance, bought the kit for the pupils and has also provided all the flags for the pitch, which he looks after as part of his work at the school.

He said: “We are very proud of our team taking on the challenge of playing another school,and hopefully it will encourage other schools to play us.

“It’s a case of throwing down the gauntlet and, win or lose, bring it on!

“The team has practised enough and now it’s their time to go out there and take part in matches.

“I am really proud of them and all the adults who have put in a great deal of effort to encourage the young players.”

Stephen’s eldest son, Eden, 13, was a pupil at Middleton, and his younger, brother, Roman, eight, is a pupil at the school in Year 3, although he is not in the football team.

On Thursday the Middleton team played against Hillcrest Primary School youngsters.

PE subject leader at Middleton school, Susanna Pritchard, said everyone had been really excited and had looked forward to playing the match.

She said: “Pupils have been working together as a team to progress with their skills and have put a lot of hard work into their football.

“Teaching assistant Chris Waters has been helping them by running a lunchtime club and acted as referee for the match.

“Lots of parents came along and it was a proud day for the school.”

The school also has a football coach, Nicki Hazel, who has been running the football team since September.

She runs an after-school club for any youngsters wanting to take part in sports activities.

Said Susanna: “We are having a much bigger emphasis on physical education and we are trying to offer a lot more different activities.

“The school club activities are free and we are trying to offer more PE to youngsters in school, who may not have the opportunity at home.

“It’s been good to have Nicky as football coach and she has also been running a netball club.

“Chris has encouraged our players by holding his lunchtime sessions.”