A new team has joined our SYACL

A new team has joined our league and their coach Alex Whitehead, Head Coach, Hillsborough Hornets DTFC tells us all about them, but if you want to read more then visit their excellent website. www.hillsboroughhornets.co.uk.

  Tell us a little about the background to your club and players – how long have the teams been together, and where were they playing before? How many teams will you be entering?

We are the Hillsborough Hornets Disability Football Club; the club will have been running for 1 year in October. We have 48 kids who attend sessions on a Saturday morning, which is a big achievement for us. To say that in October 2020, we started with 5 kids, then Covid etc. We have kids with conditions ranging from Autism to Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy.

We welcome boys and girls to play for our team. Some of them used to play for Sheffield FC, but most of them have never played in this type of environment. We will be entering 1 team in the under 12’s League and 2 teams in the under 16’s League.

If you want to join us or need any more information, you can find it on our website: https://hillsboroughhornets.co.uk/

What are you looking forward to most about participating in the SYACL?

Having a league that cares about the kids and the teams involved; and hopefully helping the kids enjoy more than just training and giving them the that feeling of winning a League fixture!

Tell us what the spectators can look forward to from your teams. Are there any particular players we should be looking out for?

A togetherness, fun, and all involved, despite ability performance is what you’ll see from our guys. They play to win, but do it the right way by enjoying themselves first! All our players are people you should be looking out for, we don’t make it about one player or two we make it all about it being accessible and all about inclusion.

How has pre-season training gone so far? Have you been involved in any competitions over the summer weeks?

Pre-season is going great, the togetherness is really there to see, and we’ve been having some really fun session, loads of smiles and laughter.

We had a summer tournament in Killinghall, Harrogate where we finished runners up!

South Yorkshire Ability Counts League Annual General Meeting

 Held on Tuesday 7th September 2021 Via Zoom Video Call at 8pm

  •            Roll Call @ 8:15pm – Chairman, Secretary, Covid Officer, Referee representative, Club representatives from Aston Swallownest, BartonInclusive, Bradford City DFC, Brunsmeer Awareness,  City Knights, Club Doncaster Titans, Derek Dooley FC, Doncaster Deaf Trust,Sheffield FC, Social Eyes, Spartans FC & Wheatley Wanderers SYACL FC

Absent –

  •            New Disability Officer Chair introduced the new disability officer for Sheffield & Hallamshire FA, who told us of her plans for the role in the up-and-coming years. The FA are really pushing female football at the moment and that is where she will be pushing for higher numbers and possibly a female only disability league. There was also mention of maybe playing a cross county competition, as was tried before the pandemic. Overtures had also been made with professional football clubs across the county, asking them what they are doing to promote disability football and what their pathways are? The FA are pushing specific disability teams such as CP, visually impaired and blind football.
  •            League Dates & Venues Chair checked that all representatives knew the dates for the upcoming season which have been sent out via texts and emails; everyone said they had received them. 7-a-side will be 2pm to 5pm at Concord Centre Sheffield & 5-a-side at Doncaster and Sheffield Goals 2pm to 5pm. He then discussed the County Cups Adult (for the 7-a-side teams) and Junior (for the 5-a-side teams). County Cup matches cost £30 entry fee, but clubs will likely have to pay costs towards matches, unlike previous seasons. These games will be played on the same day as the League games. We then discussed the format of the 5-a-side Leagues; there will be 4 Leagues of 5 teams. It was voted that League 2 teams will play a round robin of 4 x 10-minute games on the day, the other Leagues will be 2 x 20min games, plus any additional Cup games.
  •            Referees Costs The costs of referees have risen for the first time in years; to cover these costs it will be £27 per team per match day for 7-a-side & £22 per team per match day for 5-a-side
  •            Wearing of bibs Chair asked teams to let him know their team colours, so if there is any colour clash one team will be asked to wear bibs, secretary suggested all teams bring a set of bibs of alternative colours on the day.
  •            Squad Lists Chair asked for all Clubs to send him their squad list, so he can check that all the players are on the Whole Game System and that players are not in various teams and that female players are not in the 7-a-side. Also, that all players have the correct proof of disability, usually PIP or DLA letter (doctors letters) The Whole Game System was discussed [the new registration system set up by the FA], there has been major issues with it since it was updated; but Chair said to keep trying to enter players, but any major problems let him/FA know.
  •            Junior Section This season the SYACL will be running a junior league with an under 16’s & Under 12’s League. Chair has booked the venues and will arrange the fixtures, Bradford City DFC, Club Doncaster Titans, Hillsborough Hornets and Sheffield FC will be providing the teams this season but hopefully new clubs will enter in future seasons.   These fixtures will be the first Sunday of every month.
  •            Media Department & Social Platforms The League’s Media & Social Platforms department try to give the League and its clubs maximum exposure to a wide audience.  Anyone visiting these sites can gain an insight to the clubs within the League and hopefully encourage more participants. Chair stressed we need to keep sending articles for the social media site, to keep interest for the league. It always seems to be the same clubs that send the articles; can a few of the teams that don’t send, please try send something to put on the website. A good news story or how your players enjoy disability football. Once the Leagues are up and running, can ALL teams send match reports (they don’t have to be kick by kick reports) just how you did, maybe someone played well or achieved something that they usually don’t? No worries about literacy as they can work wonders with a few sentences and a photo or two. It’s all about promoting the openness of the League and their players and clubs to the general public.
  •            FA representative then told us that the FA are bringing in a 3-star award for any mainstream clubs that have adult, junior, boys, girls and now disability teams. The idea being that new clubs might be formed to play in our Leagues or some clubs might try to adopt’ teams that already exist. She also told us about a mental health course she is trying to run for disability clubs to raise awareness within the clubs; everyone said they would be interested in the course. The Flourish League was discussed alongside this topic.
  • Fair Play Rule Covid officer reminded Clubs about the fair play rule which is; –                                                       In order to best reflect the importance of competition and in order to reduce the possibility of excessively one-sided and demoralising fixtures, the following rules will apply without exception and will be enforced by our match referees.

If a team establishes a three goal advantage at any stage in the match (i.e 3-0, 4-1, 5-2) , the match referee will invite the losing side to bring on additional players until the lead is reduced to a single goal. In 7-a-side fixtures, the losing side may bring on up to three more players, and in 5-a-side fixtures the losing side may bring on up to two additional players.

If the losing side has no additional players to bring on, the team with the three goal advantage will be restricted to two touches only per player in 7-a-side football and to three touches in 5-a-side football.

The match referees will use their discretion in enforcing the limit on the number of touches. This message needs to be sent to all coaches of all teams in the leagues, so there is no confusion on the day.

  • Barton Inclusive FC thanked everyone who have accepted them into the league and have arranged friendlies such as the Spartans Tournament, Bradford City DFC, Sheffield FC & Club Doncaster Titans. They are really looking forward to the new season as are all of us!

Close of meeting – 9:35pm

Next meeting to be arranged once the League is underway.

Let’s make season 2021/2022 a great season, in Darren’s memory.

One minute silence and applause for Secretary Darren Warner, who passed away during Covid. RIP Darren.

SYACL features in Wednesday program with a tribute to Darren

We would like to thank SWFC and Wednesdayite for featuring our League in their matchday program and allowing us to republish the article.

Mike paying tribute to Darren

Wednesdayite Column- Doncaster Rovers FC

Everyone associated with Wednesday extends a warmer-than-usual welcome back to Hillsborough for this afternoon’s League One local encounter with Doncaster Rovers. We also extend our deepest sympathies to the families who have lost loved ones over the last 18 months.

For the season ahead, the Wednesdayite matchday column plans to cover the buzzing Non-League, Ladies, Junior and Disability competitions – and the many fantastic volunteers – in and around our city, which is the true Home of Football.

It’s appropriate, then that today’s piece spotlights the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League, which features three Divisions of open-age 7-a-side footballers living with a range of disabilities, and three further Divisions of 5-a-side players living with mental ill-health or learning difficulties, including Autism.

The feature is particularly poignant today as Darren Warner, the SYACL Secretary and its key driver – alongside Darren’s friend and Chair Mike Stylianou – was also the founder of Club Doncaster Titans, which he set up so that his son, who has autism, and other boys and girls like him had a place to play football. Over time, the popularity of the Titans rocketed, further enhancing the chances for children and adults with disabilities or mental ill-health to play the game that we all love.

In 2019, Darren won the “Unsung Hero” award for the BBC Yorkshire region and was invited to the Sports Personality of the Year Award in Aberdeen, where he just missed the National Award.

Sadly, Darren died in January of this year, aged just forty-nine, after a period of prolonged ill -health; despite this, he remained a regular at SYACL matchdays as recently as the previous December. He leaves behind loving wife Sharon and sons Jordan and Cameron, and over three hundred footballers across six leagues and thirty-one teams who owe him a great debt and regard him as a True Titan of the game.

Rovers paid tribute to Darren ahead of their home game with Rochdale, and hundreds of families and friends paid their own socially-distanced tribute when the funeral cortege paused briefly outside the Keepmoat Stadium on its way to the Crematorium.

Darren’s was recently recognised posthumously as a Grassroots Football Coach of The Year by the Sheffield and Hallamshire FA.

In the meantime, the SYACL continues to grow under Mike’s leadership, and plans to add a junior division for the season ahead, offering even more playing opportunities.

The South Yorkshire Ability Counts League restarts in September. Seven-a-side and 5-a-side fixtures played alternately once per month, with participating teams from South and West Yorkshire, and from this season, North Lincolnshire.

You can read more about Darren, Mike, and the League at their excellent website www.southyorkshireabilitycountsleague.com or their Instagram or Twitter Accounts.

Enjoy the game.

Paul Holmes

Chair, Wednesdayite    

Social eyes Rotherham training begins

Up at Social eyes Rotherham the football training is underway; they have moved to a new training facility @ Kickabout Football Centre, Unit 1-2 Vantage Drive, Tinsley, Sheffield. S9 1BG.

If you visit their website http://www.socialeyesrotherham.co.uk and visit their daily blog page, you will see the great time they had yesterday during training. Now they are back, after the pandemic, it looks like they have their eyes firmly fixed on the top of the SYACL again.

All the other teams training shots will follow. Come back soon.

Introducing Barton Inclusive Football Club

Sophie Bartup: “I believe in our players, and I look forward to cheering them on”

When the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League kicks off again in October, there will be two teams of welcome new faces, from the Humber area, making an appearance in our League competitions. Barton Athletic FC will be playing their football in what is expected to be a highly-competitive 7-a-side Championship Division and Inter Barton FC will play in Division One of the 5-a-side league.

We wanted to know a little more about our new friends and rivals, so our www.southyorkshireabilitycountsleague.com editor Margaret Gregory had an email chat with Sophie Bartup, who is a Sports Lecturer and the driving force behind Barton Inclusive Football Club.

Margaret: Sophie, welcome to the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League. Tell us a little about Barton Inclusive – how it started, the League you have been playing in, the progress you’ve made.

 Sophie: Thank you very much, and before we start, I’d like to say a big thank you to The South Yorkshire Ability Counts League, to Mike and to all the teams, players and volunteers who have made us feel extremely welcome.

 Barton Inclusive FC started after I moved permanently to the area in October 2018; I was keen to volunteer within the Ability Counts game, however at the time, there wasn’t any provision within the town. So, this led me to create BIFC. I actually just remember saying one day as I was sat at home ‘I’m going to create a club!’; this was in January 2019. I hosted a fundraiser in July 2019 and from September 2019, we started our sessions. We began with a session for inclusive football and one walking football session. We welcomed new players, volunteers and began to plan for our future, when the COVID lockdown was announced in March 2020. We stayed connected with our players via Zoom, and within the next 12-16 months, we started training at a new facility, introduced Wildcats to our club and continued to welcome new players for both our inclusive and walking sessions. Amongst all this, we delivered a range of initiatives as a club such as our ‘Liam Jinks Cup’, which will be hosted annually. The hard work that has gone into our club from everyone involved led to us being awarded the Lincolnshire FA ‘Club of the Year’ for the 2020/21 season; of which we are immensely proud. We now have over 70 players within our club, which continues to grow with two competitive Ability Counts teams.

 Margaret: How did you hear about the SYACL and what made you decide to join up with us?

 Sophie: Being a new club, we started to explore competitive playing opportunities for our players and did extensive research within our region; to develop our understanding of the networks and structures in place, to varying levels of engagement. We are located in quite a unique position in North Lincolnshire, with many of our players traveling from surrounding areas and counties. After initial conversations with SYACL representatives, and consultation with our players and volunteers, we made the decision that we were confident that SYACL would provide our players with high quality regular competitive football.

 Margaret: How has your pre-season training gone?

Sophie: It’s been very positive for us, our players and our coaches. Our Inter Barton FC team entered the Spartans FC tournament in Sheffield, of which they won their division. I was there that day to support our team, and I was very impressed with the event, the authenticity of the environment and how each team and their managers supported each other. Following this, I drove straight to Bradford to support our Barton Athletic FC team; in what was an extremely competitive set of matches.

 In addition to this, both of our teams have just returned from an event with Sheffield DFC at the Concord sports centre on Sunday. This gave us another opportunity to put into practise what we have been working on in training. I have to say a big thank you to Kevin of Sheffield  for hosting us.

 Prior to their first league fixture, Inter Barton FC will be heading to Doncaster to play their women’s team, which I am sure will be a valuable experience for our players.

 Margaret: What are you most looking forward to when SYACL competition starts?

Sophie: Definitely for our players, they’re so excited to play league football. We have players such as Zak and Sean from Barton Athletic FC who came to our very first training session and will be experiencing their first competitive match representing BIFC. I am excited for our coaches Richard and James who have worked so hard with their players. We know we have to travel, and this would likely be the case wherever we played, however we have enjoyed our trips so far, getting the bus together and building momentum as we arrive at new places. Personally, I am just so grateful to everyone that has joined us on this journey, we’re dedicated to driving forward to reach a more equal and sustainable pathway for our players, and also for future coaches, referees, and volunteers.

Margaret: What should we be looking out for from your teams?

Sophie: A few months ago, I would have said we have two groups of great players and exceptional people. The more they have trained with each other and played together, our coaches are starting to see how they’re beginning to work more as a team, in cohesion with each other. Both our teams are extremely hard working and competitive. Through our pre-season, we know the quality of what exists within the League, and we know that we will need to turn up and prepare professionally in order to compete. Although this will be our first time of entering into a League, I know our players are proud to wear the badge and will want to do everyone connected with the club proud. I believe in them and will look forward to attending their matches and cheering them on.

 And before we finish, again I’d like to thank SYACL for their support and guidance and genuine commitment to welcoming us into their community. The standard of service we have received has been exceptional.

www.syacl.com would like to thank Sophie and all at Barton Inclusive FC and we wish them every success in the season to come.

 Check back at our website for our forthcoming match days, when you can see Barton – and all our fantastic teams – back in competitive action. 

5-a-side match dates

The  South Yorkshire Ability Counts League -a-side 2021/22 season will begin in October and matches will be played at Doncaster / Sheffield Goals Centres. 

The dates are all below, fixtures will be completed and sent out in early September, via Full Time .

October 17th  …. ‘21 – Sheffield 
November 21st .. ‘21 – Doncaster 
December 19th .. ‘21 – Sheffield 
January  16th .. …’22 – Doncaster 
February 20th … ‘22 – Sheffield 
March 20th ……. ‘22 –  Doncaster 

April 17th ‘22 – if required .

7-a-side match dates

The  South Yorkshire Ability Counts League 7- a-side 2021/22 season will begin in October and matches will be played at Concord Sports Centre, from 14.00 to 17.00.

The dates are below, fixtures will be completed and sent out in early September, via Full Time.

>> October 10th ‘21
>> November 14th ‘21
>> December 12th ‘21
>> January  9th ‘22
>> February 13th ‘22
>> March 13th ‘22

April 10th ‘22 – if required.

Derek Dooley club has completed a sponsored walk to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis

Derek Dooley completed a sponsored walk to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis in honour of players with the condition, especially Jack Shillitto who has been with us since the beginning.

They raised the sum of £450 with kind donations from Mike Stylianou, local business, the players and collecting on the walk around Norfolk Park, after they had completed a training session on Saturday 19 June.

The players loved being part of the experience and showed what great friends they all are, chatting and enjoying the occasion. 

The Nurses were so happy with the presentation of the cheque from Jack and his mum Sue, thanking us all for our efforts.

Claire Cowlishaw, Derek Dooley Football Club.

Chris Lill memorial match

Swallownest FC would like to extend a warm welcome to anyone who would like to join them on Saturday, 24th July Swallownest FC when they host their annual Chris Lill memorial match when Swallownest FC play Maltby Main FC for the Chris Lill Trophy.

Swallownest and Maltby Main play an annual fundraising match in memory of Chris’s life and in support of the brilliant staff at Rushey Meadow respite centre and Mind Sheffield.

Christopher Mark Lill, was born on the 25th of February 1992 and is fondly remembered as part of a famous local football family. Brothers Alex and Josh both played for Swallownest and Maltby Main, father Richard is Vice Chair at Swallownest, and Mother Ann has been a supporter of her boys and a popular and valued volunteer at a number of non-League clubs.

After a battle with deteriorating health, Chris passed away on the afternoon of January 12th 2018, aged just 26.

One minute silence at the first game 2019

Chris spent the first few weeks of his life in the Special Care Baby Unit at the Northern General Hospital, where a series of tests revealed that he had been born with a unique chromosomal disorder and would be living with severe learning difficulties.

As younger brothers Alex & Josh grew older, they loved playing football on the back garden and Chris would generally sit in the middle of the ‘pitch’ watching and laughing at them. As they began playing Junior football, Chris really enjoyed watching the boys play their games.

Home life was always frenetic with Chris, so football was always the family escape. Chris was non-verbal and profoundly deaf and later lost his sight, however his smile and use of ‘body language’ ensured he always got his point across. He only really got upset if someone took his football sock away from him (from an early age he used a football sock as a ‘comforter’).

Every Monday night (straight from School) and every 6th weekend, Chris visited Rushey Meadow Respite centre, and was always delighted when he saw his ‘Rushey Overnight bag’.

Rushey Meadow Children’s Home is part of the Sheffield City Council’s Children, Young People and Families Service, located on Bannerdale Road in Sheffield and provides a service of residentially based respite care to children with severe learning disabilities. Their service plays a key role in enhancing the lives of young disabled people and their families; and the home offers care which respects and values the young people within a nurturing environment where their abilities are developed and achievements celebrated with a 24-hour service, including weekends. Some of these children can require a high level of personal care including feeding, bathing, and intimate care, undertaken by highly-skilled and well-trained staff.

Covid stopped last year’s match but this Saturday, hopefully, the 2nd Annual Chris Lill Memorial match will go ahead with a 3pm kick-off and all are welcome down at the Swall Siro stadium @Swallownest Miners Welfare, Rotherham Road, Sheffield. S26 4UR.

Tickets available now and on the gate @ http://www.TicketSource.co.uk/swallownest-football-club.
They are priced @ £5 adults, £3 Concession.
U16 accompanied by an adult – Free Of Charge

Maltby FC winners in 2019

If you would like a preview of the joy you could have visiting Swallownest FC and the area, then Swallownest FC – Miners Welfare Ground – Gibbo’s 92 (gibbos92.com) is the place to read about it and smile.

A Just Giving page has been set up and you can donate @ “Swallownest FC – Support Rushey Meadow Children’s Home and Mind Sheffield.”


Thanks in advance for your support of a great cause and “a little man who could”.

Mum, Ann and Chris, one of the special band of mothers who care for special children.


We have been contacted by disabilitysportyorkshire.org to ask if we can include this information on our website.

DSY are offering a fantastic opportunity to join an Employability Course run by Disability Sport Yorkshire. 

The course will be held at U Sport in Sheffield, starting in September and will run for 20 weeks minimum.

Target group = Young Adults with a Moderate Learning Disability aged 19 – 25  but maybe older if necessary.

For further information access their website: disabilitysportyorkshire.org or contact dawnwood135@live.com