Ladsandads football has been running for 53 years… and a husband and wife team have played a huge part in the organisations success.
Tony and Sandra Sheldon have been involved in the Staffordshire Ladsandads for 41 years and are still key members of the thriving and popular competition.
It was set up in 1967 by former Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor Doug Brown. And thanks to the work of a huge number of volunteers – including the Sheldons – Ladsandads continues to offer football opportunities across the area.
The Sheldons’ hard work has helped the organisation grow from 90 teams in 2003 to more than 380 in the present day, with 4,500 children registered to play.
Ladsandads has branches at Bentilee, Biddulph, Blurton, Kidsgrove, Leek, Milton, Newcastle, Stoke and Trubshaw Cross at ages six to 16 before teams have the opportunity to compete in the 10th branch of Ladsandads, the North Staffs Youth League which provides football for 16 to 18-year-olds.
Ladsandads has also played a prominent role in shaping the careers of youngsters, who went on to play professional football.
Port Vale legend Robbie Earle, Vale and Stoke hero Mark Chamberlain and Stoke stars Garth Crooks, Adrian Heath, Lee Chapman, Steve Bould, Neil Adams and Carl Beeston are among those who took their first steps in the football world in the competition.
The Sheldons started their journey at Blurton Ladsandads in 1979, Sandra as a committee member and Tony as team manager before becoming fixtures secretary and vice-chairman for the next 17 years.
Sandra took on the role of assistant treasurer and then branch secretary for 16 years, so both were key members of a thriving Branch mainly due to their extraordinary commitment and enthusiasm enabling the children to enjoy organised football.
They both moved on to the main management committee of Ladsandads under the guidance of Doug Brown with Tony taking the position of secretary, Sandra as his assistant and treasurer.
Both were then appointed as Trustees in 1999, some 20 years after their first involvement.
Tony took on the important job of fixtures secretary which involved organising competitions for every team from the Branches together with the prestigious Area Cup and League Cup competitions.
In addition they were both key organisers in the annual Sports Day event held at Northwood Stadium which involved boys, girls mums and dads in a competitive, but very friendly atmosphere.
The pair have now been nominated in the Tom Brennan Service to Sport category at the Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards by chairman Clive Dean.
He said: “They still both retain their positions and are the bedrock of Ladsandads helping the organisation to comply with all the changing and demanding legislation, keeping a firm grip on the finances and ensuring the administration tasks are completed and compliant.
“It is impossible to differentiate between the two for the one award, they are both equally deserving of it as it reflects their dedication to providing sporting facilities to the children of North Staffordshire.”