Marcus Rashford's first club Fletcher Moss Rangers in danger of folding
Published 29/02/2016 | 16:06
The club that first gave the likes of Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck the chance to play football is in danger of folding.
Sunday was a remarkable day for the Fletcher Moss Rangers community club as those two old boys got on the scoresheet in the afternoon's headline Barclays Premier League clash between Manchester United and Arsenal.
Teenager Rashford struck twice to continue his sensational start as a United player after also scoring a double on debut last Thursday. Welbeck's effort for Arsenal was his second against former side United since moving to the Gunners in a £16million deal last season.
The pair are merely two of a long line professionals to have started at Fletcher Moss, a park-based club in Manchester which runs 17 teams and a soccer school. Others include Tyler Blackett, Wes Brown, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Ravel Morrison.
Yet away from the glamour of the top flight, Fletcher Moss are fighting for their survival. Their facilities are dilapidated and poorly designed, while league fees and bills are a heavy burden.
David Horrocks, the club's academy development officer and skills coach, told Press Association Sport: "Since last Thursday we've had lots of interest and our Twitter account has gone red-hot because of what happened with Marcus. The same thing happened five years ago with Danny Welbeck.
"But there is a bigger story than them. The real story is the fact there are a lot of other kids that could get the opportunity to be in their position, but if our organisation happens to fold because our facility isn't safe to be in, then that is a tragedy.
"The building we are in at the moment is falling into a state of disrepair and the council have not got the money to be able to repair it.
"At the moment the changing rooms serve a purpose but they are not fit for purpose. We have got a leaking roof, we've had a leaking-out issue and the gutters leak. We need in the region of £2million invested in the site to make purpose-built changing rooms."
Horrocks is pleased to see Rashford making a name for himself but hopes as the story of the 18-year-old's background is told, the role of Fletcher Moss is not forgotten.
It frustrates him that some of the country's biggest clubs have benefited from the work of Rangers, who provide an outlet for parents with children as young as three to play football, but they get nothing from them.
He said: "The thing with Marcus could not have fallen at a more opportune moment. It gives us the opportunity to get the name Fletcher Moss Rangers in the media, to speak to people that have got contacts and can highlight the plight of the club.
"Look at the list of players that have come through our club. We could field nearly two teams of top-class players that have come through and we have not had a penny from any of those clubs that have taken those players, nor from any of the players that have gone on to play top-class football and get very good wages out of it.
"United, City, Liverpool, Rochdale, Burnley, Celtic, Swansea - none of those clubs have ever come round to offer us anything. They just take, take, take and we never get anything back. You wouldn't mind if they came and said here's a bag of balls for you, or here's some boots for you."
Yet none of this dulls Horrocks' enthusiasm. At 62 and retired, Horrocks devotes many hours to the club in terms of coaching and its administration and takes great satisfaction from its notable success stories.
"I'm doing this because I love it," he said. "It's a bug and I would hate for us to lose it.
"Imagine how I felt yesterday. Marcus scored two and Danny scored another. I was cheering all three goals. I was in tears. I was so emotional."