Just five weeks ago Smithswood Firs were accepted into the Midland Football League Division One – but within the past 24 hours they folded leaving the league with just 19 sides.
A full statement from the club says, “It is with deep sadness that I am writing this statement on behalf of Smithswood Firs. We have made the extremely tough decision to fold the club effective immediately. It is not a decision we have taken lightly but one we feel that had to be made for a number of reasons.
Manager Paul Ryder set the club up in 2008 and has guided them from the very bottom of the old Birmingham AFA to Step 6 in the Total Motion Midland Football League, great feet for a volunteer run club in itself. I officially came on board to help him when we moved to the MFL ahead of the 2014 season and since then the two of us have been responsible for running the club. Recently as the team progressed through the Divisions, the demands and commitment have increased but still the two of us continued to run the club. Last season we covered managing, fund raising, secretary, treasurer, chairman, programme producer as well as keeping all our social media outlets up to date. With the unprecedented back log of fixtures we had to play our commitment was tested fully with no other help running the club and the fact that we won the County Vase and gained promoted is a testament to the players and a reward for all those hours spent in the background.
We have tried to recruit volunteers the past month and bring in investment but have been unsuccessful and with no other help on the horizon this decision has been made as neither Paul or I can guarantee we could be there every match day next season and going into Step 6 football we need more than two people running the club. It will be a massive void from our lives but will give us more time to concentrate on other ventures.
Paul wanted to say the following;
“It is with regret that as owner and manager of Smithswood Firs FC, I have folded the club with immediate effect. The lack of financial backing and people to help Neil and I run the cub were the deciding factors.
I would like to thank my players past and present that have played for the club since 2018 and anyone that has helped behind the scenes including sponsors. It has been fantastic and an enjoyable part of my life, it wasn’t just my club it was my baby and my wife Claire and children Megan and Kallum have put up with so much over the years for which I would like to thank them.
I am now taking time off to concentrate on other things.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart
Paul Ryder (Gaffer)”
I would also personally like to thank everyone involved with the club. I found out early on that Smithswood Firs was unique in the way it was run, it truly was a family club and ran through hard work. Unfortunately in the current game once you get to a certain level that is not enough and it becomes a business which is simply too much for two of us to deal with, especially with other commitments away from football. While it is a sad time to fold the club, Smithswood Firs will forever be in our hearts and the friends we have made will always be a part of our lives as that is just the type of club we were.
Thanks again and I hope to see you all at a game as a stress free spectator
Neil Armstrong (Chairman)