JOHN'S HARD WORK BEARS FRUIT; Commitment sees Dromara Youth's numbers grow.
THE driving force behind the formation of a youth section at Dromara Village Football Club in 1983 was John Drake, who then worked tirelessly over the years helping to get the age group teams playing competitive football.
When it comes to loyalty to the club it is a case of like father, like son, for John Drake's son, Mark, has played football at the village club since his primary school days and is still a permanent fixture in the Dromara senior team.
Unfortunately, John did miss out on Dromara's big day just over a month ago for he was suspended for the club's successful attempt to win the Border Cup and though playing in all the previous rounds John missed the final and a medal.
Dromara have been a forward thinking club since its formation and back in the Eighties completed a fine ground in the village.
They soon added a second pitch on the complex and the youth team took its first faltering steps in the Downpatrick Youth League.
Towards the end of the century the Ballynahinch Youth League was formed and Dromara played their youth football for a several years in their neighbouring town, winning a few trophies in the process, but a few men at the club assured the youth set-up was to progress further.
At the end of the last century and into 2000 Ricky Graham, Willis Rodgers, John Wright and Jim Watson began to look further afield for the youth teams' progress.
In the 2000-01 season they entered the Lisburn Junior Invitational League with one team, managed by Graham and Wright whilst retaining their connection with the Ballynahinch League.
The reason for leaving Ballynahinch was because they had only under-12 and under-14 sections and Dromara wanted to progress further In the 2009-10 season.
Dromara reached the peak of their association with the Lisburn League when they had four teams competing in these circles.
This season they only have two teams in Lisburn, the under-13s and under-16s, but their quality is beginning to shine through and the under-13 team, which is a year young for the group, are one of eight teams fighting for the title.
There are several problems in running youth teams in a small village - other established youth set-ups in the area can more easily call on the best of young talent and, of course, the problem for many youth teams when their best players are snapped up by the Irish League and possibly further afield, but Dromara still thrive despite these difficulties.
In 1999-2000 the club formed a minisoccer school to bring in children ranging from five years-old to eleven years-old and this school has been very successful, meeting each Friday night.
Dromara may be viewed as unfashionable by some, but they have one player, Greg Hall, inset, who played for Lisburn Distillery before moving on loan to Banbridge Town, where he has now been signed on a permanent basis.
Jordan Watson played youth football with Dromara but he is now a signed player at Sunderland. The village club are certainly moving in the right direction.
WARRENPOINT PROVE TOO STRONG FOR VILLAGE U16 BUT PORTADOWN U14 PUT UP BRAVE FIGHT AGAINST GLENS
CLOSE ENCOUNTER Glentoran's under 14 side got to grips with Portadown at Wallace Park at the weekend A REAL SCRAMBLE Glentoran under 14's keeper Tommy Morrow comes for the ball at the weekend CALL TO ARMS Glentoran under 14's Jamie Tharna & Nickey Napier celebrate against Portadown FULLY FOCUSED Warrenpoint under 16's Darren McPolin and Dromara's Niall Fleming ROCK & GOAL Warrenpoint under 16's Donnagh McAleenan celebrates scoring against Dromara TEAM EFFORT Dromara's under 16 side work hard to get possession of the ball against Warrenpoint POINT TO PROVE Dromara's unde er 16s prepare to face off against Warrenpoint REDS ARE READY Portadown's under 14 side gear up for kick-off at the weekend OVAL BOYS Glentoran's under 14 team ahead of their game with Portadown at Wallace Park REAL BATTLE Portadown under 14's Jay Ludlow gets in a solid challenge against Glentoran ON THE CHARGE Warrenpoint under 16's Donnagh McAleenan takes on Dromara's Jack Mulligan UP FOR IT Dromara under 16's Sean McNally and Warrenpoint under 16's Gary McShane IN CONTROL Glentoran under 14s Nickey Napier evades Portadown under 14's Daniel Hume