FC Byram Munich, The Cas’ Sunday side with the eye-catching moniker, want to be known for more than just their name. Lee Sobot reports.
At first glance, the Castleford Sunday League would seem a million miles away from the class and flare of the German Bundesliga.
Yet two teams on the edge of title glory have plenty in common - and that’s quite literally ‘by design’.
At the summit of German football’s top tier, Pep Guardiola’s FC Bayern Munich are seven points clear and as short as 1-150 with the bookmakers to land the title. And at the height of the Castleford Sunday League’s Division One, Matthew Shaw’s FC Byram Munich would be an even shorter price than that to wrap up their league crown.
The thriving club’s have almost identical names with Byram Munich the brainwave of Byram Park Social Club regular Tom Bell whose inspirational idea was dropped into the club’s initial meeting when forming in the summer of 2012.
And the similarities with Bayern were soon extended with the newly formed Byram Munich then choosing to copy the German superpower’s badge – and rename their home ground as the Fairburn Allianz.
Furthermore, like Munich, FC Byram can even boast of a player on international duty with Adam Priestley claiming 2013 honours for Gibraltar.
The comparisons with Bayern are rock-solid – in a light-hearted fashion that is – with manager and secretary Shaw seeing no harm in adding a jovial bit of fun, and flair, to the Castleford Sunday League.
“I don’t know where we would stand with Trading Standards,” quipped 29-year-old Shaw. “But once you lose the fun out of football it’s game over. Obviously you are competitive but you still need to have a bit of fun.
“The origin of our name is a strange one really as we were in the Byram Park Social Club having a meeting with potential players and committee members et cetera and we were just running through what we were going to do training-wise and with the manager and assistants and things. Then we were on about names and I originally just said AFC Brotherton but then advice popped up from a local lad called Tom Bell who plays rugby for the Brotherton Club.
“He said ‘what about Byram Munich’ and everybody starting giggling but I went home that night and thought you know what, it keeps it fun. I then went on to my sister-in-law Katherine who is a graphic designer or something along those lines and I said can you write us some text over a badge?
“Everyone has bought into it and with them going well as well it goes hand in hand at the minute and I just made the ground up as Fairburn Allianz as well because of Bayern Munich.
“Fairburn Recreation Ground is what they really call it but it keeps the fun in it doesn’t it?
“It’s great that Bayern Munich are going so well as well but I bet we’ve got a better goal ratio than them! And also, to the league management’s knowledge, we have become the first team to play an international footballer on the Cas Sunday League in Adam Priestley who is a good friend of mine who I first played football with when I was at Brotherton and Byram when he was 16.” It was from Brotherton and Byram that Shaw joined FC Byram Munich back in the summer of 2012.
Shaw – raised in Brotherton – had always wanted to go into football management and was offered his big chance by another Brotherton local in Gavin Jewitt - the club’s founder. Jewitt had initially formed the ill-fated Brotherton All Stars back in 2006 and when they disbanded in 2011, Jewitt was determined to have another go.
Shaw, who works at the Haribo sweet factory in Pontefract, recalled: “Basically this is our second season and we were formed in 2012 by a good friend of mine called Gavin Jewitt who is now honorary president.
“He set up a team in 2006 called Brotherton All Stars in the same area and the same league but because of work commitments he had to move away from that and it went under. He’s a site manager in London and because he was working away a lot it died a death and I think that narked him a bit and he wanted to start back up again. He had put all the hard work in but then seen it disappear. At the time, I was with Brotherton and Byram in the Premier but Gavin said he was making a team and approached me to be manager.
“I’ve always sort of wanted to be a manager – that’s always interested me – and we just kicked on from the summer of 2012. Last season really was just about setting the foundations and we finished sixth – a point off the top four which I was quite happy with. Now we have got a stronger squad and we need four points to win the league and we have scored 128 goals.”
Four more of those came last weekend when Byram saw off George V 4-0 for their 17th league win of the campaign – from 19 games. All roads now lead to the Premier Division and clashes with the likes of all-conquering Ferrybridge Progressive managed by Shaw’s 33-year-old brother Martin.
Shaw is under no illusions at the task ahead but hopes that eventually FC Byram Munich can become can become an established Castleford Sunday League top-flight side and one to rival his brother’s.
The Byram manager also says their is a hidden secret weapon to his side’s success story in wife Marie. “The first division is a massive step and I think there’s three sides in the Premier – Ferrybridge Progressive, Fryston and North Featherstone who have been going 10-20 years,” said Shaw, who lives in Ferrybridge. “They’ve built to where they are and that’s where we want to get. But with the squad we have got and certainly if we play like we have this year then there’s no reason why we can’t finish mid table at least or fourth, fifth or sixth.” Revealing the help that his other half puts in, Shaw added: “My wife does the scran and I don’t drive so I couldn’t do it without her.
“She runs me about, she does the match reports, she takes me to the pitch to mark it out and generally without her help the club wouldn’t run without someone like her really.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without her – especially having two young kids as well who are 18 months and four.”
Fletcher (four) and Isla are the little ones in question – and even at their age the FC Byram Munich mentality has already been imbedded.
Shaw laughed: “They’ve both got the Byram Munich hoodies already! A pink one and a blue one!”
FC BYRAM MUNICH
League: Castleford Sunday League Division One.
Chairman: Adam Darrand.
Manager and secretary: Matthew Shaw.
Captain and assistant manager: Shane Halpin (currently recovering from broken ankle).
Vice captain: Andrew McHale.
Home ground: Fairburn Allianz (also known as Fairburn Recreation Ground), Silver Street, Fairburn.
Headquarters: Byram Park Social Club.
Sponsors: Ideal Valeting, Arncliffe Drive, Ferrybridge, and Thaal Indian Restaurant, Great North Road, Brotherton.