THE enthusiasm for playing football on a Sunday morning appears to be sadly declining.
Players are quickly losing interest especially when they know their team can no longer win the league or a cup, while many don’t have the guts to be involved in a relegation dog-fight.
Clear evidence comes via the Reading Sunday League’s results page on the FA Full-Time website.
It’s chock full of games being awarded rather than played.
Out of the latest list of 18 Senior Division fixtures, only seven were actually decided on the field of play.
Kidmore End/The Mod suffered the most, with the league management awarding five games to their scheduled opponents.
Little wonder they were left tailed-off at the foot of the table, with just three points, which came from a 5-4 win at Southcote in February.
After that, however, it was all downhill and they are now relegated.
In the Premier Division, AFC Pangbourne have been forced to concede several games, but still managed to finish in mid-table.
It is perhaps a little unsurprisingly, the Sunday League’s top two divisions dominate the list of awarded games as player availability becomes less of a problem in the lower divisions.
At this standard, it is far easier for a manager to bring in a mate of a mate to make up the numbers, with the official registration list being ignored.
Player availability is a continuing major headache for managers and it could get even worse next season, both for the local Saturday and Sunday leagues.
If Reading FC do manage to get promoted from the Championship – and I know that is a big if – then a lot of park players will want to see Premier League football rather than turn out on a cold or wet day to play on a Saturday afternoon or, especially, a Sunday morning.
With Park players also having family and work commitments to take into consideration, their interest is likely to diminish in the years ahead.
That could mean several established clubs folding in the way former local ‘giants’ like West Reading, Rabson Rovers, Courage and Thames Vale have done in the past.