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Football legends in community cup showdown
Thursday 12th June, 2008

Football legends in community cup showdown
Wigan Athletic Chairman Dave Whelan

Having guided his club from obscurity to the Premiership, Wigan Athletic Chairman Dave Whelan clearly knows a thing or two about what makes a good football manager. Now he’s all set to have another go at managing a side himself.

This weekend, Whelan will once again take charge of a Greater Manchester Police side in a match against young people from Ashton-in-Makerfield.

The match is being organised for a second successive year by PC John Mackey of the Hindley Neighbourhood Policing Team with support from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, Greater Manchester Police and the Ashton and Bryn Township Community Safety Group.

The idea behind the match is to show how community solidarity in Ashton and Bryn is harnessed by sport. Last year the police claimed victory with a dramatic 5-4 win, a result the Ashton Youth Team are keen to overturn this time out. The youth side will be managed this year by Everton FC Hall of Fame legend and Ashton resident Duncan McKenzie.

McKenzie said: “When PC John Mackey contacted me about this match, I thought it was a great idea. I’ve been involved in football all my life, and using football to break down social barriers is something that I’m very keen to see happening. I know that the lads have been doing some training and are keen to overturn last year’s last-minute defeat and I’m really looking forward to a good game of football.”

The Ashton Youth Team will be made up of young people who have taken part in weekly multi-sports sessions delivered by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s Sports Development Unit in Ashton and Bryn. The activities, supported by Wigan Council, local councillors and the police, have been successful in helping to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.

In 2007, Wigan Sports Development delivered 239 hours of activities in Ashton and Bryn to over 100 young people aged 8 to 16. Over 12,000 young people took part in Sports Development activity sessions across the borough throughout the year.

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust Community Sports Development Manager Chris Essex Crosby said: “Opportunities for young people to go head to head with police often have a much more negative slant, but the respect gained by both sides during this match will be invaluable in developing relations between both parties. PC John Mackey has been the driving force behind this year’s match and he must take a great deal of credit for the behind the scenes organisation of the event.”

The Sports Development team currently organise free of charge community sports sessions for young people in Ashton & Bryn Township on Mondays from 6-8pm at Grange Park, Bryn and on Wednesdays from 6-8pm at Jubilee Park in Ashton. For further information contact the Sports Development Unit on (01942) 404982.

The Ashton Community Cup will be held at Robin Park Arena, Wigan this Sunday (June 15th). Kick off is at 1.30pm. Entry is free for under 16s and £1 for adults. The match is sponsored by MYL Security, Travis Perkins, Roseberry Tavern (Mad Jacks) Ltd and SportLine Ltd.

PC John Mackey of the Hindley Neighbourhood Policing Team said: "I would just like to thank Duncan McKenzie and Dave Whelan for once again supporting this event. We hope that it will help to improve relations between police and youths in the area, just as it did last year."

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