Known to many in the North West Sydney Football area as the “Family Club”, All Saints Hunters Hill FC’s hardworking Registrar Michael Clayton is living proof that this nickname is for real.
The 56-year-old passionate and dedicated football volunteer has enjoyed his football journey thus far thanks to his four children.
“My personal football journey has been unusual.
“I stopped playing football when I was 11 when my coach advised me at the time that I was “hopeless” (I was). But picked up the love for the game through my 4 children.
“My two eldest kids Sam and Annika started playing at the age of 6 and both were gifted players and played representative level for North West Sydney Football.
“Annika was awarded a scholarship to play football in America and Sam still plays senior football in London. Annika is registered to play first grade for the NWS Koalas this season but unfortunately suffered a serious concussion and is unlikely to return this season.
“The talent continued with Simon who was selected for the AYL Under 13s and now plays AYL Under 15’s for North West Sydney Football. He also referees which is a fantastic skill for kids to pick up.
“Tony plays in our All Saints Under 13 1’s and is about to start in the Under 13 Academy with North West Sydney Football.
“And finally I have returned to actually playing football, after a gap of only 45 years, as Goalkeeper for our brand new All Saints Under 35 6’s.
“After a shaky start, I seem to be saving a few more than I let in, so I am hoping to not be retired again after a single season.”
It’s been a busy season for Clayton and the All Saints club who have seen some fantastic numbers register for the 2021 Grassroots season.
As the official club registrar, it’s been Michael’s sole responsibility to ensure each and every participant at the club was ready to play the world game at the start of the hugely anticipated season.
“It has been a very busy year with registrations. All Saints has over 800 registered players across 65 teams with 130 Coaches, Managers, and volunteers.
“We are actually the seventh largest club in the North West Sydney Football area which is amazing for a little suburb with 9000 residents.
“One in three local 5-to-9-year old’s play football with All Saints which is a fantastic stat and one we are all so very proud of.
“This season has also meant a return to coaching for me for our Under 14 4’s. Enabling local teenage kids to play local football is a focus for me as I think there are too many kids who are lost to the game if they don’t get picked up in representative teams or clubs struggle to fill one or two teams. This is an area we could all do better in.”
Asked how the All Saints journey started for Clayton it was again thanks to his kids.
“I joined the club ten-years ago when my son Simon joined the Under 6’s and I was asked to coach the team due to my heavy Scottish accent.
“I coached Simon and his teams all the way through to the Under 12’s and he is now in the AYL Under 15’s which makes me really proud.
“I joined the All Saints Committee as a ‘Minis’ coordinator in 2014 and I think this is the hardest role at any club. Corralling 50 plus brand new under 6’s into teams and keeping their parents happy is both an art and a science.
“My passion for volunteering was inspired by our late Club President Paul Manton. He had boundless energy and enthusiasm for the club and sadly passed away from Melanoma 3 years ago.
“I was extremely thankful to Paul Williamson for taking over the role as ‘Minis’ coordinator in 2019 and I became Club Registrar just in time for COVID which is the role I hold today.”
Volunteers are quite simply the lifeblood of this very sport, something Clayton agrees with in more ways than one.
“Of course club football would not be possible without the army of unpaid volunteers who give their time to ensure everyone can take the field. I encourage all clubs to get parents into the rhythm of volunteering when their kids are new to the club. That way the tasks are small and shared around and the families learn that all of the small contributions end up as a functioning whole.
“It is also invaluable for kids to see their parents volunteering as a normal and natural part of community life.”
Clayton and the All Saints committee are working tirelessly to ensure that the 2021 season finishes off with a bang as they set their sights on a massive 2022 season when the club is set to celebrate a remarkable 75 years of existence with hopefully a synthetic surface at Gladesville Reserve.
“All Saints celebrates 75 years next season and there is a huge amount of work going into securing Council permission for a synthetic surface at Gladesville Reserve.
“$2 million in funding has been provided by the State Government but unfortunately the Council voted against the proposal, so we have a major battle on our hands.
“Hopefully common sense will prevail to allow the club to continue to grow and prosper and also for us to develop a summer football program.”