Happy Christmas from SYACL

Dear website readers, first and foremost thanks from all the team and contributors for your continued support and making this website, in it’s first year the success that it is.


We have lots for you to catch up on today. The City Knights biography has been added to the team biographies page; across on Bradford City Disability page we have an interview with Matthew Hemmingway, Bradford City Disability defender/midfielder; and a Christmas message from the team at SYCAL – Mike, Darren, Sean, Colin and Margaret.

It’s been a year to forget, that’s for sure; but amongst all the doom and gloom, the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League managed to get two match days of seven-a-side football and two afternoons of five-a-side football after competition restarted after the lockdown. You can read the reports on the matches on the Results page of this website.

Secretary Darren Warner and the SYACL Committee meet regularly by Zoom to ensure that the preparations for a safe restart are agreed and communicated to everyone, and Chairman Mike Stylianou visited the venues with our Covid-19 Officer Colin Muncie to agree the game day protocols. These included, regrettably, a limit on the numbers able to attend, with no spectators allowed being the disheartening feature of the rulings by the venues.  

On arrival, each player has a temperature check, and is provided with hand sanitiser. Groups are kept separate when not involved in a match, and fixtures are scheduled to minimise the number of teams present at the venue at any one time. In between matches, our referees-led by our own Sean Wright sanitise the equipment ahead of the next match.

We are continuously monitoring advice from the Government, Public Health England, the Football Association and the venues where our matches are played. At all times, the safety and well being of our participants is the overriding priority, so if the advice changes, we modify our match day protocols.

We have been running an extremely popular series of feature interviews with our players and coaches, so if there is someone you think deserves a feature on our website, just let us know.  

Editor Margaret says ” Since our website started, we have had nearly 7,500 views, which is an average of about 1000 visits every month. Our Twitter audience is also growing – it’s above 100 now.”

Today it’s the turn of Doncaster Titans goalkeeper Josh Collinson to share his views of playing in the SYACL.

Josh Collinson

Josh Collinson

Today it’s the turn of Doncaster Titans goalkeeper Josh Collinson to share his views of playing in the SYACL.

“My favourite part in playing in the SYACL is playing against different teams in order to keep pushing myself to improve my own form, whenever I’m in goal.

I would tell them that it’s ok to be shy and it’s ok to be nervous because joining a team and playing in the SYACL can be a big step. If they feel they are ready and willing to work hard, both as a player and in a team, then come along and be in it.”

Join us over the Christmas holidays for further updates from the SYACL.

Doncaster coach shares his views

John Hibbert

Today we have an interview with Doncaster Titan’s coach, John Hibbert.

I would say to a person who is a little shy – if you want to play in the SYACL group, do not be scared; we were all like this at first! We are like a family, so welcome my brother or sister!

 “I started by fetching my grandson to football because his dad was suffering from leukaemia. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me; I lost five stones in the first year and it has done wonders for my self-esteem. Now I’m a Club Doncaster Titans coach and I’m loving it at the minute.

Turn over and read the full interview on the Titan’s page.

Rich Ridley

Rich Ridley

Today it’s another Doncaster Titan player, Rich Ridley. Turn over to Titans page and read the full interview.

I’ve been playing at Titans for a few months and I got into football at a young age to escape my problems at home.

 I have played for many teams, but Titans have treated me like part of the family, so I don’t see my team mates as players but family.

Another Doncaster Titan player gives his views on the SYACL.

Daniel Hall

Today it’s the turn of another Doncaster Titan player to give his views on the SYACL. We have other club interviews in the pipeline.

The club is a massive family to me and will be part of me until I cannot kick a ball anymore. The staff and team are all great and we all enjoy each other’s company.

It’s well organised, and great to be part of a big organisation that puts hard work in to give us all the opportunity to play football.

Turn over to Doncaster Titans page and read the rest of the interview.

It’s like playing a game with family, we are all there for each another.

Today we have added another Doncaster Titans interview with Phil Siddons; turn over to the Titans page to read it.

Phil Siddons

“It’s like playing a game with family, we are all there for each another. We are all treated equally and there is no discrimination about anyone’s problems.”

Also last Sunday’s match reports for Bradford sides have been added on the results page.

An emotional afternoon as the SYACL pays tribute to Ash

Cold, wet conditions can’t prevent a thrilling five-a side afternoon.

It was cold and the rain fell virtually all afternoon, apart from an important twenty-minute window part way through the afternoon; but the weather was pretty much forgotten as the tackles and goals flew in during a thrilling afternoon. Matchday Two of the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League didn’t disappoint, with ten fiercely-contested fixtures spanning two and a half hours of top-level Disability Football at Goals Sheffield, writes Margaret Gregory for www.sheffieldabilitycountsleague.com

The afternoon also featured an emotional tribute to the League’s Ash Prendergast, with Ash’s family and coaching colleague John Nugent there to celebrate the life of this much-loved young man.

Turn over to the RESULTS PAGE to read the full account, and see the pictures of the afternoon.

So, that does it for competitive action in the SYACL for 2020 – a strange, sad, and forgettable year.  Seven-a-side and five-a-side action is due to resume in January 2021, again without spectators, and ONLY if we can ensure the safety of all of our participants.

In the meantime, www.southyorkshireabilitycountsleague.com and the SYACL Committee wishes everyone a Happy Christmas and a much, much better 2021!

Sunday’s matches will include a memorial to Ash Prendergast

Ash Prendergast

   During Sunday’s games we are planning a memorial at 2.40pm for Ash Pendergast, who sadly passed away on April 3rd 2020 from a brain haemorrhage at only 36 years of age, to celebrate his life and time with the League.

Ash died at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital leaving behind partner Rachel, step daughter Olivia,13 and a 14-month-old son George.

He was a family man and was loving being a father. He was fun, kind and generous and his passing is a tragic loss to all who knew him.

Ash was full of life and he loved an adventure outdoors. A committed lover of football and he was a keen Sheffield Wednesday fan.

Originally from Edenthorpe where he had lived with his parents Maureen and Alan, sister Hollie and brother Kerris, he previously worked as a sports teacher at Doncaster Deaf College but had recently begun working for a block paving company.

Ash’s sister Hollie told us that they had recently received a gift from the organ donation and transplantation team – 15 gold heart brooches, each one representing an organ donated by Ash following his death. She told us, “we are extremely proud to know that he has helped so many others in such a special way.”

Hollie continued, “due to the government guidelines that were in place at the time of Ash’s death his funeral service had to be private, being attended only by a small number of people. The service was, however, filmed and they hope to distribute this accordingly afterwards.”

A fundraiser was set up as a financial help to Rachel and their children with the response outstripping the £500 target within the first ten days; as nearly £17,500 was raised and it stands as a real testament to the man Ash was.

“He would do anything for anyone and the wonderful messages and donations have proved that.”

Ash’s family will be joining us along with John Nugent ( Doncaster Deaf College ). Any club or players who may want to give the family a card are welcome, I’m sure it would be well appreciated.
Apologies to Spartans and Wisewood, in the interests of safety and numbers already on the pitch we cannot permit you into the venue for the memorial.

Arrival times –
13.10pm …Bradford City Emerald, Bradford City Fuchsia, Derek Dooley Blue & Derek Dooley White.
14.10pm …Doncaster Titans Blue, Doncaster Titans Yellow, City Knights Red & City Knights White.
15.00pm …Spartans FC  & Wisewood.

Must read updated Covid-19 rules before Sunday five-a-side games

Can every participant in the SYACL please read the following government and FA rulings. It is imperative we adhere to the points in order to keep our games on.

Remember, all our participants are in the extremely vulnerable grouping section of society.

If anyone shows symptoms, or anyone in a participants family or bubble shows symptoms, PLEASE don’t arrive on the day.

Risk Assessment completed.

Covid-19 Co-ordinator nominated, Colin Muncie.

No spectators – venue requirement. Two club officials only; others to remain in cars. Clubs to manage.

Clubs to provide lists of players and officials and contact details to Mike for track and trace. Mike is nominated contact for Goals.

• Clubs in first series fixtures (1.40pm) to arrive not later than 1.10pm.

Clubs with a 2.55pm kick off to arrive between 2.20pm and 2.30pm.

Clubs with a 3.25 pm kick-off to arrive 2.55pm-3.05 pm.   

Please keep personal items to a minimum; leave in cars where possible.

Teams should bring a plastic cover for personal items in case of rain.

On arrival.

Two club officials to gather all players together in car park before proceeding to pitch entrance.

Don’t forget your list of names and contact details.

Groups to maintain social distancing at entrance-each club group is its own bubble.

Please arrive changed and ready if you can.

No changing rooms will be available, and only one set of toilets.

Please do not enter Bar area or gather in Reception or Concourse.

Bring your own drinks and hand gel – don’t share.


We’ll provide two bags – one per-pitch – containing sanitiser, wipes, PPE, gloves and aprons for post-match clean down, inc. balls and goalposts.

Gloves and Apron ARE required for the treatment of injuries.

Players are encouraged to bring own hand gel, although we will ensure we have plenty on site.

Everyone is encouraged to wear face coverings even when in close proximity to teammates, in “holding areas”, or in transit through Goals.

Players requiring toilet facilities MUST be accompanied by one club official.


Teams approach entrance in groups – each group socially distanced from the other. Strict 2 metre distance at all times.

Groups encouraged strongly to wear face coverings .

Mike, Colin and Darren are at the entrance to receive contact details lists.

Temperature check for each participant.

• Hand sanitizer will be made available/given to all participants.

Groups to establish a socially distanced spot on Pitch 4, the holding area.


One way system through corridors entering and leaving.

All teams must use the one-way system to access their pitch or when returning to holding area.

The SYACL won’t be issuing bibs so we ask that clubs provide their own in the event of a colour clash; Mike has investigated and advised affected teams.

Once your matches are over please collect your things from the holding area and leave the venue as quickly as you can.

No spitting or unnecessary contact/celebration.

Don’t enter the bar area or gather in the Goals building.

Pitches 5 and 7 are match pitches. Only subs and officials at pitch side please – socially distanced. Viewing possible from Pitch 4. One way system on the route to pitches.

• No other teams should be within the playing area if they are not directly involved.

If a ball leaves one pitch and enters another, please do not use your hands to retrieve it.

• Please do not warm up with footballs in the holding area (Pitch 4) . This increases the risk of transmission between groups. Store any personal items within Pitch 4.


• Please leave the venue as quickly as you can taking your belongings and litter with you.

• Can each team ask one of the officials to write up a short summary of the game from their perspective. This is for the SYACL Website.

• Please raise any issues or concerns you experience on the day with Mike, Darren or Colin.

• Any suggestions for how we can improve the event will also be really welcome.

• Stay safe • Follow the guidance • Enjoy the games!

December return for SYACL 5-a-side League

Mike “We’re all excited and delighted”

Mike Stylianou

The South Yorkshire Ability Counts League gets back into action on Sunday, December 13th, when Match Day Two of the 5-a-side competition kicks off at Goals Sheffield.

 www.southyorkshireabilitycountsleague.com  will be building up to the restart in the coming week, but our editor, Margaret Gregory took time out to ask SYACL Chairman Mike Stylianou about the arrangements for next Sunday, which, sadly CAN still not allow spectators.

The website will offer the latest news, views, and reports on the action, but Margaret started by asking Mike about his reaction to the restart.

Mike:  We’re all excited and delighted that now lockdown has been lifted and permission granted, that the 5-a-side teams are able to return to League fixtures on the 13th December, at Sheffield Goals Centre.

SYACL:  We’ll be going ahead without spectators though, which is unfortunate but essential. This is all about minimising the risk of transmission to our vulnerable adults, I guess? 

Mike:  Exactly. Although it’s frustrating and sad that spectators are still not allowed to attend on match days, the overriding factor is the safety of all our members. Many of our players are vulnerable to the virus, especially those playing 5-a-side, and have recently been shielding. It is essential to minimise the risks of transmitting the virus and so by reducing the amount of people at the venues that allows for safer distancing between each other.

SYACL:  Any planned changes to how the first round of matches were managed at Goals Sheffield back in October?

Mike:  The format for League matches will remain as before, with most teams playing their matches back-to-back and organised staggered kick off times. The arrangements will continue as before, teams will have scheduled arrival and departure times and all players, team officials and League officials will be temperature checked and offered sanitiser on arrival.

SYACL:  The League website will be publishing up to date match day advice ahead of next week. Any last words for the players, coaches and officials, Mike?

Mike:  We hope that everyone remains safe and healthy throughout this difficult period; we understand and appreciate that normal routines have, and will continue to, cause difficulties and challenges to many of our members. Ultimately our aim this season is to continue to offer our players the opportunity to continue playing competitive matches, in an environment that is as safe as possible, under current circumstances.

www.southyorkshireabilitycountsleague.com will be updating the arrangements for Sunday on our website well in advance of next Sunday.

In the meantime, thanks to Mike, Darren, and Sean for their hard work in getting the games on, and we wish everyone every success.

Don’t forget – you can follow us on Twitter @SYorksACL.