Club focus: Abbey Villa
Abbey Villa boss TJ Young believes the Northern Amateur Football League might have a got little too big for its own good.
The Amateur League is now bigger than it has ever been, with 13 divisions, hundreds of teams and thousands of players.
Villa boss Young said: “The Amateur League are very proud of the fact they've the biggest league in the country, with most divisions and the most teams, but I'm not sure it's a good thing.
“We've too many teams fighting over the same players and I think that the standard has been diluted. You've got good clubs like East Belfast, who I used to play for, struggling for a team and it's sad to see.
“It's a merry-go-round, with players coming and going. Players don't seem to stick with one club nowadays, they move around a lot.
“All you can do is offer a player what you have. At Abbey Villa we play by the rule book, so we're hoping our new training facilities will be our selling point.”
Abbey Villa recently installed a new 3G training pitch, which the club hopes will bring the Millisle team side into the 21 century.
Young is confident the pitch will give the whole club a big lift.
“Our new training pitch is up and running now. It's a 3G surface with changing rooms and floodlights. It's not quite finished, but it's really impressive.
“It's one of the best training facilities in this honour and it's going to be a massive boost to our club. It will save us money on facility hire and it will allow us to generate money for the club.
“Very few Amateur League clubs are fortunate enough to have facilities like this, so we have to use it to our advantage.”
Villa find themselves in mid-table, with no realistic chance of either gaining promotion or dropping into the relegation zone.
Although Villa have improved on last season's effort, Young confessed that 1A is a tough division to compete in.
“It's been a difficult season for many clubs because it has been so start on stop.
“If you look at the league table, it's totally messed up. Downpatrick are mid-table and they're one of the best teams in the league, while you've a couple of teams in false positions. You've got one team who has played nine league games, and another who has played 22.
“I actually don't think it's fair because you can end up playing four games a week at the end of the season, or you could play the same team twice in quick succession. That's tough because some teams are better at different times of the year.
“We've also seen teams like Larne Tech and Immaculata lose points, so it's a strange league table, but it's also very competitive. There is very little between most of 1A. If you win this division, you're a good team. 1A champions usually do well when they're promoted.”
Name : Abbey Villa
League : NAFL 1A
Founded : 1955
Ground : Adams Park
Colours : Claret and Blue
Gaffer : TJ Young
Skipper : Jon Munn
Sharpshooter : Gary McDermott
Most Skilful : Gary McDermott
Hard Man : Tucker Canavan
Club Comedian : Phil Graham
Best Moment: Avoiding relegation by beating Larne Tech
Club Man : Phil Gamble
Belfast Telegraph Digital