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A VIEW FROM THE SIDELINE (JANUARY 11TH 2018)

6 months ago By Tom Slater

The very personal views of David Shuttleworth

Congratulations
Congratulations to Timperley’s Tom Bracegirdle and Tommy Kirkland on their selection for the England Squad which will travel to Israel in July to take part in the FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championships .

To represent one’s country is the highest honour that a sport can bestow on a player and for both Toms it is well deserved.

Mike Armstrong would I am sure have made the squad but he decided to call time on his impressive international career. Perhaps if the Championship was to be held in Manchester he could have been persuaded to stay involved.

Mikey is not leaving the English Lacrosse Performance Programme and will continue as a coach of the U19 squad where he will work with Ryan Garnsworthy, former Australian Captain and Timperley LDO and player/coach.

Altrincham in 2018.
The New Year has brought the much heralded arrival in Altrincham of the iconic Canadian coffee shop Tim Horton. My initial view is that Tim Horton is good but not wonderful. Coffee OK and value; service-learning on the job; decor a bit basic; seating not great.

Flannels have recently opened (or is it reopened?) in Altrincham.

The New Year seems to have brought with it a few backward steps with the closure of Clintons card shop and Samuels the jewellers in the Precinct. Perhaps more unexpected was the closure of the Cote Brasserie in Hale. You would have thought that they were a perfect fit for Hale. Is this the first sign that Hale is feeling the heat from Altrincham’s booming dining scene?

Sir Graham Brady
Congratulations to Graham on his knighthood. In my experience he is a hard working local MP who has supported both Timperley Sports Club and the sport of Lacrosse.

However, I suspect that it was not his work in these areas which earned him the accolade but rather his leadership of the 1922 Committee and his support of Brexit. He is also a strong advocate of grammar schools.

I feel strongly that his position on both these issues are difficult to support and certainly on Europe does not reflect the views of his constituents.

Altrincham was strongly for remain so there is clearly an issue with an MP who is happy to trash the futures of our children and grandchildren for dogmatic political opinions.

The issue of grammar schools is perhaps more complex. One of the reasons that Altrincham in particular, but Trafford in general, are such attractive places to live is the quality of the education which exists in the area. There is no doubt that the local schools are excellent. I think that the argument is whether this excellence is the result of a selective process or whether there are other factors to be considered.

Having, in the last few years, seen 3 of my 4 grandchildren negotiating the selective process, my view is that it is an experience which no child should have to go through. Tutoring has become a growth industry with almost every 10 year old receiving out of school tuition which basically produces an outcome where the children are educated to pass an important examination but not prepared for the educational process which takes them through secondary school and higher education.

My view is that the excellence of the educational system in Trafford is due to:
• The intensity of the parental support which exists.
• The gene factor. Intelligent parents produce intelligent children.
• Children who mix with similarly intelligent and motivated children thrive.

It is not due to Grammar Schools. I am the product of Grammar Schools but from a bygone era. William Hulme’s GS was what was then termed a Direct Grant grammar school. It provided access to top class education for children from all sorts of backgrounds. It seemed a good idea. I came from a family who did not know where Oxford was and that it only had a crew which raced in the Boat Race. Being at WHGS was hugely enjoyable and transformational – not to mention that I was introduced to Lacrosse (to the day she died my mother used to say how pleased she was that I did not go to a school which played soccer. Soccer was definitely an indication of being at a school which did not tick all the boxes. Still the case!) My wife, Christine, came from a mining village in County Durham. She was the first person from Washington Technical Grammar School to go to Oxford. In her school at the same time were Howard Kendall, who became the youngest player to appear in an FA Cup Final (for Preston) and an outstanding manager, Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music fame and a girl who became Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons and a Dame. Not bad for a little pit village.

The modern Grammar School does not seem to have the same role to play. It is an academic hot house which perhaps does not develop the full person. I listen to stories of the negative outcomes at Altrincham Boys and Altrincham Girls and people who cannot wait to leave and continue their education at a more accommodating mature environment.

In my other life I live near to Skipton in Yorkshire, which shares with Altrincham a selective Grammar School system which embraces all of the same issues we see in Altrincham. We have close personal friends who have daughters who passed for Skipton Girls - the dream outcome. One has just had a prolonged spell out of school with an eating disorder and the other is being home schooled because of bullying, which the school does not seem capable of coping with. Another of our friends have a son whom is in my view exceptionally talented but the education provided by Ermysteds (Altrincham equivalent of AGS) was far from what he required. He underachieved at A levels but went to University but has dropped out in his first term. Clearly not prepared for the future after school!

Basically, it seems to me that the issue is not that the answer is Grammar schools but it is a matter of developing good schools for all children and allowing them to develop their true potential. Failing to accommodate children of all abilities is relatively easy to do in Altrincham where, in my opinion, all schools are good schools. You do not need a Grammar School system to create schools which cater for all abilities. Sir Graham you are backing the wrong horse with Grammar schools and with Brexit.

Perhaps you are not the right person for Altrincham.

2018 and all that
The New Year brought home the realisation that Manchester and English Lacrosse would not be hosting the Men’s Lacrosse World Championship (although the Manchester Evening News calendar for the year still thinks otherwise). Just prior to Christmas English Lacrosse issued a statement which seemed to suggest that the organisation has achieved a major success in minimising the cost of withdrawal to around £250,000.

England has played a major role in the development of international Lacrosse since the first World Championships was held in Canada in 1967.

We have hosted the Men’s World Championships in 1978, 1994, and 2010, the Women’s World Cup in 1982, 2001 and 2017 and the European Championships in 1999. All these have been very successful with a positive financial outcome.

In the review of the 2010 Championship in Autumn 2010 it was agreed that, despite the great success of the event with the benefit of hindsight it could have been even more successful, especially financially. This was despite making a significant surplus and making one of the largest royalty payments, certainly outside the USA, to the international governing body.

Within English Lacrosse it was decided that events could, going forward, be a very positive income stream for Lacrosse, particularly as Sport England funding to NGBs was very likely to diminish in the future. An Event Strategy was produced and approved by the Board and one of the first actions was to establish a limited company, Enterprise Lacrosse Ltd, which was to be a vehicle for the management and financial control of future events. Establishing a separate company to run a major event or events has become fairly standard practice for sports governing bodies to facilitate management and financial control and to give an element of protection to the overriding body.

In further reviews of 2010 it was clear that there was an appetite amongst the group responsible for 2010 to undertake a further project. The people involved were very experienced in managing multi-million pound projects and had worked or were working at senior level in major organisations and companies.

The success of 2010 was to a large extent due to the fact that the accommodation and playing facilities were on one site and that there was the capacity to hold a large Championship and an accompanying participation Festive. Manchester Lacrosse provided a committed team of volunteer helpers and turned out in large numbers to support the event.

After much discussion it was decided by English Lacrosse to mount bids for the 2017 Women’s World Cup using Surrey Sports Park and for the 2018 Men’s World Championships using Manchester University as in 2010.

The budget for 2018 was particularly robust and it was felt that a surplus of in the region of £200k was a reasonable expectation, or even perhaps could be seen as a disappointment.

The bid for Manchester was supported at a very senior level by both Manchester University (Letter signed by the Deputy Vice Chancellor) and Manchester City Council (Letter signed by Head of Leisure Services). There was also verbal support from Manchester GS.

Both bids were submitted and in 2013 English Lacrosse were informed that both had been successful.

For the 2010 Championship, obtaining commercial sponsorship was challenging because of the prevailing economic situation following the crash of 2008 (although English Lacrosse was successful in obtaining some sponsorship which made an important contribution to the event). There was a degree of optimism that the economic climate in 2018 would be more conducive to obtaining support. Initial very positive meetings had been held with the Manchester office of one of the country’s leading management and finance consultancies with a view to them providing pro bono assistance in establishing links with Manchester companies. For many of its sporting and cultural events Manchester has a very impressive record of obtaining commercial and grant aid funding and it is reasonable to suppose that they would have been helpful in accessing sources of money.

In 2013 there were discussions as to the possibilities of creating a National Lacrosse Centre in Manchester using the 2018 World Championships as a catalyst. Working with a consultant provided by the Council a “Compelling Narrative” was produced and was encouragingly received by senior council officials.

When the bids were initially discussed the possibility of some development work on the sports and accommodation facilities in 2014 -2016 was discussed but this was not felt to be a major problem as the sports works were scheduled for completion in 2016 and the accommodation redevelopment was a rolling programme which meant there would always be adequate accommodation available.

In 2014 English Lacrosse let it be known that they wished to take over responsibility for 2018. Some of the steering group indicated they would still be willing to offer their services but the offer was never followed up. The services of a past employee of Manchester City Council who had experience of major sporting projects was retained.

Little news regarding 2018 was forthcoming except there were persistent rumours that the accommodation at the University was very expensive. In all previous Manchester events the cost of accommodation has been the subject of extended negotiation. Basically, the time of Lacrosse events was always in summer when there was no soccer and very few conferences and exhibitions so the rates for rooms in Manchester was low. Additionally, lacrosse produced a very significant demand for rooms. Both 2010 and potentially 2018 were the biggest demand for rooms since the Commonwealth Games. Lacrosse has always been in a relatively strong position when dealing with the University on accommodation.

There were also rumours that a change of venue was being considered and this was later confirmed when the event was moved to the Council owned Hough End Playing Fields. One of the reasons for the success of 2010 was that everything was on one site. Hough End was fundamentally an unsuitable venue. Its pitches were very low quality and the idea that the Council were to invest money there extremely dubious. The council’s interest was always more likely to be in housing development and a possible extension to Southern Cemetery. I understand that the latest move is to build a new High School on the site. Most importantly the playing venue, as demonstrated, by every World Championship venue except Manchester, cannot be divorced from the accommodation. People will not travel between the two.

In 2015 and 2016 there were worryingly few signs of any work being carried out by EL staff and officials. In 2017 English Lacrosse announced that they were withdrawing from hosting 2018. The reasons given were that the event was too big. There are around 20 suitable playing pitches within a short walk of the Fallowfield accommodation; sufficient to hold an event twice the size of the anticipated 2018 Championship and Festival.

It was also claimed that the event was a financial threat to the Governing Body. It is difficult to see how this could have been the case as the various income streams, particularly participant contributions, comfortably cover the costs. The challenge has always been cashflow but this has, in the past, been manageable.

Ultimately an event which should have realised a surplus of £200k would seem to have produced a loss of £250K. A situation which can only be attributed to failings in leadership and management from senior staff and the English Lacrosse Board.

U19 Stop Press
Dates for the Spring U19 Boys Programme have been released.

The final games of the Autumn league programme including the title deciding game between Timperley and Poynton which will take place on Sunday 21st Jan.

The Spring Cup will take place on Sundays 4th Feb,4th March, 11th March, 18th March and 25th March.

The U19 All Star Game will take place on Sunday 29th April.

Updated 11:34 - 11 Jan 2018 by Tom Slater

Where next?

WEEKLY ROUNDUP JANUARY 11TH The news from Timperley Lacrosse this week
WEEKLY ROUNDUP DECEMBER 20TH The news from Timperley Lacrosse this week

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