'A big hug and the greatest respect' - Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa's special message to James Milner's old club
Horsforth St Margaret’s FC, the club where it all began for Liverpool great James Milner, is celebrating its centenary throughout 2021 and Whites fan Gary McVeigh-Kaye approached Bielsa to ask if he would convey a message to the club.
The head coach of the Under 12s Hurricanes girls at Horsforth St Margaret’s FC said: "I thought that Marcelo would fully appreciate the efforts that go into running grassroots football, from the coaches and club officials, who give their time and dedication for free, to the parents who support their children in their footballing development and not least, the players who always play to their best ability with a smile on their face.
Bielsa duly obliged, expressing his support and admiration for those who dedicate themselves to grassroots football.
"Grassroots football is, without a doubt, the most important stage or link in the comprehensive training of a professional footballer," said the Argentine.
"Not only in the technical-tactical aspects, in relation to the skills of the game itself; but also in the attitudinal and value aspects so particular and necessary in the sporting life of a footballer.
"It is the most sensitive stage for the incorporation of new habits, knowledge, skills, concepts, values, which in the future will be the tools with which the athlete will perform, and will differentiate themselves from the rest of their peers throughout their career.
"That is why it is so important that all of us who belong to, or are in any way linked to, the world of football, not only assign it the correct place, but also put all our attention on providing and promoting ideas, actions and quality procedures for the development and growth of spaces and opportunities dedicated to formative football.
"A big hug, the greatest respect and recognition for all the people and professionals who give themselves day by day for this beautiful activity.
"And a special greeting full of gratitude to all the coaches, players and staff of the Horsforth St Margaret’s Football Club for their 100 years of dedicated work. Respectfully yours, M. Bielsa."
McVeigh-Kaye said the message gave everyone at the club a lift after a challenging time during the pandemic.
"To receive such acknowledgment of our collective effort from such an esteemed coach as Marcelo has been a real morale boost after what has been a difficult year for everyone as we have dealt with COVID-19, during what should have been a year of multiple celebrations for our club," he said.
The club, established in 1921, runs four open age sides, an open age womens’ social team and 100 junior teams, catering for well over 1,000 junior footballers.
As part of their centenary celebrations, the club is holding a special event on Saturday June 26, including a parent and coach football tournament and two charity matches between Horsforth St Margaret’s teams and sides made up of ex-professional footballers, alongside a number of current soap opera stars.
Actors Nick Pickford (Tony Hutchinson from Hollyoaks), Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs from Coronation Street and James Hooton (Sam Dingle from Emmerdale) will take part alongside Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, ex Leeds United man David Norris, former Manchester United player Nick Culkin and Lee Duxbury (Bradford City and Huddersfield Town).
They plan to hold further centenary events during the rest of the year.