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Matt Ankers confirmed as Grassroots Hero 2024

Matt Ankers of Norton Athletic was named our 2024 Fosters Solicitors Anglian Combination Grassroots Hero.

We are delighted to confirm Matt Ankers of Norton Athletic as the winner of this year’s Fosters Solicitors Anglian Combination Grassroots Hero Award.

This is the second year that alongside our partners, the Anglian Combination Football League, we have invited their 94 teams from across Norfolk and Suffolk to nominate someone who regularly goes above and beyond for their grassroots club.

Matt was nominated and recognised for his personal dedication to Norton Athletic, whose first team currently play in Division 2 of the Anglian Combination, but also for his support of their veterans’ team and the local youth sides who use the club’s facilities.

Ben Burcham, First Team Manager of Norton Athletic who made the nomination did so stating, “I speak on behalf of everyone involved at the club when I say that we’re blessed to have had Matt get involved with our football family.”

And it was this reference to football family, which attracted the judges to Matt’s story. Like so many of the volunteers across the Anglian Combination, Matt gives up his whole weekend to help his club. In Norton’s case, Matt runs their tea hut for both first team and veteran matches at The Highfield, unlocking the ground and cleaning up – and he also looks after the medical bag and player treatment for their first team away games.

However, this unwavering support has been undertaken during a time of personal mental health challenge for Matt, who this month has celebrated two years of sobriety.

Matt literally gives up every Saturday and Sunday, during a period of his life when he’s experienced real struggle, but he’ll never let that show on a Saturday. His commitment to the club always comes before his own personal battles, which honestly amazes us.” added Ben.

Also highlighting the importance of people like Matt to grassroots football, Chairman of Norton Athletic, Nigel Hudson, commented: “It is people with a real passion for local, grassroots football that make all the difference to the game at this level. Without that commitment how would the senior levels survive? Everyone, including the best players in the world, start at grassroots level.

As a small rural club, we have been going strong for over 100 years, all thanks to people giving up time and energy to make it happen week in and week out. Matt exemplifies the spirit and commitment we need to provide the facility to keep grassroots football thriving. Thank you Matt, you truly are a grassroots hero. Well done.”

Chris Brown, Chief Executive of Fosters Solicitors, said: “Matt’s nomination highlighted everything for us that the grassroots football community should be, which is the coming together of people and community for mutual benefit.

Again this year we have received some wonderful nominations, epitomising the individuals and their clubs across our region, who make grassroots football what it is. For the judges, Norton Athletic’s entry highlighted how Matt’s drive and commitment was not only a huge help to the club practically but an inspiration to its members, and for Matt, personally a way of finding community to support him with his mental health. Congratulations to Matt and Norton Athletic and thank you again to all the clubs who took part.”

Ian Potter of Aylsham FC and Angie Finch of Wells Town, Anglian Combination Grassroots Hero Runners-up 2024.

With so many great examples of people supporting their grassroots team, the judges also wished to recognise two highly commended runners-up in Angie Finch of Wells Town and Ian Potter of Aylsham FC. Both were nominated by their respective teams for all the hours and commitment they have given in developing and growing their clubs.

Dale Brown, Chairman of the Fosters Solicitors Anglian Combination, said: “Yet again we have been delighted to see our teams celebrating the people behind the scenes who keep our game thriving, and whom without many of our clubs couldn’t exist.

On behalf of everyone at the Anglian Combination, we’d like to congratulate Matt, as well as runners-up Angie and Ian, all of whom are grassroots heroes and who have been rightly nominated by their clubs.”

Fosters Solicitors and the Anglian Combination Football League will look to make a presentation to Matt and the runners-up at the forthcoming Mummery Cup Final at The FDC next month. As part of the prize, Norton Athletic will also receive a brand-new Macron kit for the 2024-25 season, courtesy of Fosters Solicitors and league kit and equipment partners, Macron Store Norwich.

Fosters Solicitors became title sponsors of the Anglian Combination Football League in 2021, further cementing the firm’s ties with local football, having also been the official legal partner of both Norwich City Football Club and Lowestoft Town Football Club for over 12 years.

With the Anglian Combination looking to celebrate its 60th year next season, the league currently comprises a total of 94 teams participating across seven divisions. With a competition boundary of 50 miles from the centre of Norwich, the league consists of teams from across Norfolk and Suffolk.

This article was produced on the 25th April 2024 for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.