There is no question football is popular in the UK, but often forgotten are the sides plying their trade at the lower levels of the beautiful game.
Salford is no different, rich with local and grassroots clubs who don their boots each weekend just the same as their Premier League idols – though without much of the glitz and glamour.
Beechfield United are one such team, based out of Swinton, but playing across Salford.
The club’s main senior team plays in the Manchester Football League Premier Division – a league that sits in the 11th tier of English football, though does boast players like retired Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes as being registered on their books.
Having won promotion last season, they are facing off against tough opposition from across Greater Manchester each week but club secretary Keith Long says the aim is for the club to go “as high as they can go”.
However, as with many football clubs at this kind of level, Beechfield isn’t just about the senior team. Running a second Saturday morning team and a range of junior teams across the age categories, they offer aspiring footballers in Manchester a place to play.
Some of those footballers to come through the ranks have achieved significant success too.
Salford City defender Danny Livesey, now on loan at Chester, and midfielder Michael Twiss both played in Beechfield’s colours.
The club operated a women’s team too up until last season and has seen some of its former female footballers go on to play at some of the highest levels domestically.
Yet, despite the success stories, Beechfield struggle with the same kind of battles that face many smaller football clubs.
A lack of publicity and interest in the lower echelons of English football means securing sponsorships for the club are always an uphill struggle – and something Beechfield is still looking for at this present time.
They are also limited in their facilities, with their clubhouse and home pitches at Beechfarm not able to accommodate all the teams they operate across the age categories.
As such, the senior men’s team has taken up residence at the Salford Sports Village in recent seasons, though the club would love to bring all their teams back home to one single facility.
Beechfield were founded back in 1980 by the late Barry Salisbury and Colin Roden and were named after the Beechfield Housing Estate in Swinton where their first matches were played. The first team to carry the name were an under-15s side playing in the now-defunct Worsley and District League.
Moving to Beechfarm in 1982, the club became an FA Charter Standard Development Club in 2003, a clear testament to the football team’s efforts to develop and provide for young footballers in Salford.