THREE years after they last played a competitive game, a day some feared would never come has arrived for Droylsden FC.
And after more than 1,000 people turned up for the Bloods’ first match back on the pitch after being mothballed, expect another big crowd as they play their first North West Counties League match.
Saturday, July 29 sees a squad put together from open trials that attracted about 140 people, plus a few signings, take on Abbey Hulton United in their Division One South bow.
But this is much more than a football match – it gives the whole town a focus on a Saturday afternoon.
Keith Newall has been going for about 50 years and remembers playing Manchester United, including Denis Law, playing at the club as it welcomed new floodlights.
The 60-year-old said: “I’ve been watching Droylsden, on and off, since I was a kid. It’s my local team and I’ve good memories of going.
“Football coming back means a lot for everyone in the community. It means everyone can see their local club.
“And without it, there was nothing really here. You’d go shopping on a Saturday, that’s about it but having the football back gets everyone together.”
Droylsden will have many new faces but Dave Pace will still be in the dugout in his role as chairman/manager – only Phill Cooper will be alongside him.
Trialists who impressed in pre-season matches, including the emotional occasion against Stretford Paddock, will take their place.
But just having a team on the pitch again is enough for most, including Cllr David Mills.
He told the Correspondent: “It feels fantastic. You could see from the queues at the first game against Stretford that it was good for the club and good for Droylsden as a town.
“It’s great to have them back after the three-year break. They’ve done a lot of work with the council to try and get themselves back up and running.
“Everyone’s done really well. Volunteers and staff, everyone.
“My uncle used to bring me to the club, he helped with the security after the new stand was built – it’s a lovely family affair.
“And I’m backing them as a councillor, as a Droylsden resident and as a fan of football.”