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Skem Men Aces FC

Skem Men Aces FC are a community football team of men with additional needs.


Carl Eaton

Carl Eaton

The Skem Men Aces were founded in 2009. I went to visit my brother Harry who is 12 months younger than me. I'm the eldest. He's the second. And then there's our Ian whose the youngest. So I went to go visit him, he was supported to live independently with Mencap. And he just said "I'd love to start playing football again". I didn't really think much of it, to be honest with you, and I came away after visiting him, came home and we've had our Sunday dinner.

And then we were laying in bed one night and and I just said to me missus, I said, "How d'you think about getting a football team together?" We'd always been involved in football, particularly kids football. "So what are you talking about?" "A disabled football team. You know, initially for people with learning disabilities. Adults". So we sort of ummed and ahhed a little bit, agreed and disagreed. And then we decided, yeah, let's give it a try. So we didn't dash into it. We sort of... We did our homework. We put the feelers out there to also see what the interest was, and we put posters out. It went into the local papers, the Champion then, as it was, and the Skem Advertiser, we went on local radio channels, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside, Radio City, all that.

So initially, just to see what the demand was and that the demand seemed to be really really good. So we set up a meeting and I remember we set it up in the Warden's Club in Skem. A couple of months later after we come up with the idea and there was typical me thinking it's going to be buzzing, it's going to be, you know, going to be chocker... About 5 or 6 lots showed up with parents and carers. And I thought, "shit not great this!" But anyway, we told the guys what we were going to, you know, what our plans were. And a few names were banded about and one of the parents said this name and that name. And someone said "How about Skem Men Aces?" In fact, you know, we say the Skem Men Aces, I prefer the Skem Menaces. But someone said about Skem Men Aces. Ace Men. And yeah, we loved it straight away. Yeah. So we love that.


So a couple of weeks later we meet up on Liverpool road and, er... I wasn't optimistic, I'm one of these people. I'm always a bit of a worrier, you know, a bit of a drama queen. Sort of anxiety issues, what if, what if, what if? And anyway, we got on to Liverpool road and seven, eight lots showed up.

I swear we had a couple of coats for goals, a couple of cones. A football. I thought, well, you know they're here... We'll have a kick about? And it was great. I remember it, it was, it was a great great team. The football, we was there for two hours on Liverpool road and from there it grew and grew and grew. And, you know, today we stand as one of the most highly decorated football teams in the country. The lads have won everything all over the country, they've been to Spain, they've been to Switzerland, the most highly decorated disabled football team in the country. They have been the Palace, they've won absolutely everything. And they are our lives. Them lads are our lives. It's their club. It's not ours. Me and Mim are the cog, we sit in the background.

And, you know, we keep things turning around. We look for funds and this, that and the other. But ultimately, you know, this large club and we brought in a membership now with about 60 lads. And it's a joy. And it's what keeps us going and it's certainly what keeps me alive, you know and we love it. I couldn't imagine life without the Skem Men Aces.

We continue week in, week out to get better and better and better. But above all, you know, to provide a point where people with disabilities can meet up, can play a sport that they love with passion, can make instant friends. And sometimes it's not even about the football. It's about creating friendship, creating memories, creating new ideas, new experiences.

It's unique. You know, I'm a disabled man, you know, and I can have my ups and downs. I can have my rough days, the same as everybody else can. And you get into the company of them men and they bring you back down to earth with a bump, and it's infectious. And long may it continue. So we're massively proud of, always will be. And long may it reign.

I remember long before the Skem Men Aces was born.

I think, you know, my brother, as I mentioned earlier on. He's got severe learning disabilities, you know, and supported by Mencap. We had a difficult childhood, and I'm Spina Bifida right leg amputee in a wheelchair. 12 months later our H was born with his issues, you know, and life was so, so difficult. As disabled kids and growing up into our teens, it was a struggle. I was bullied massively in school. I hated school with a passion. And I went to West Bank. And, you know, people say, I hear a lot of people say I love school and I hated school. I detested it, because I got bullied massively. You know, I'm 62 now and I hate bullies with a passion.

And so, yeah, it was hard being disabled in Skem. Yeah. It was. I'm sure not just Skem. All over the country. I'm convinced of it. Before the Menaces came along, I think, you know, if you were disabled, in disability, or you looked a bit funny or looked a bit odd, if you struggled to gain a bit of acceptance. But what I love now, and I absolutely love it is that... I watch the Skem Men Aces and they walk through the Conny, they walk through the town, they walk through Skem and they've got the football colours on them, the badge that they are massively proud of with their chest stuck out wide and I see people stopping them. I see Joe Public stopping them "Hey lads, I heard you got another win there." "Wasn't your training session great I see you on Facebook, seen you in the papers". How fabulous. And I sit back and I watch people stopping them lads and talking to them. And years ago, that wouldn't have happened. It just wouldn't have happened. It's as simple as that. I refer to the Skem Men Aces as superhumans. And that's what they are. They're superhumans, they work so, so hard, and they've put so much effort into what they do.

Our community have took them to their hearts and they massively respect what the lads have done. And they're so proud of what the lads have done. You know, we we can sit in Skelmersdale Asda for the full weekend, Saturday Sunday. You know, with our begging bowls out and our buckets out. Easily Saturday Sunday we can make £1500 and people are throwing money at us because they're proud that them lads. So proud of them lads. Listen don't don't get me wrong, some of these lads they have a far better social life than I probably have, but there's some out there that don't. And there's one or two out there that the only thing they've got is the football in their lives.

And to see the reaction that they get from the community and how well respected they are and they're adored, I call them superhumans and they are athletes and I say, you know, like I said 10, 15 years ago, I don't think a lot of people would have given them a second glance.

And it shows you the power of sport, the power of being together, being united. You know, it's wonderful to witness. And that's the biggest thing. You know, people say to me, it's not about winning... you ask anyone of them lads, anyone of them lads. No, they don't go to competition to lose. They go there to win. It's as simple as that. They go there to win, you know. And they're so proud of the club clothes. They're proud of being from Skem. They're proud of being in a town that loves them and respects them. Yeah it's a joy. It's the best, best, best tonic in the world. You can't get no better medication than that.

Yeah. So thank you Skem. Incredible. Yeah.

I have so much to be thankful for the Skem community. We all know it's a deprived town. It's a tough town. It's a town that's been neglected for years and years and years. It's getting a bit better, but it's...  A few miles up the road you got Ormskirk. But I'll tell you what, though. Ormskirk has not got a community that we've got, we've got the most generous, most giving, most loving community that you'll ever, ever get. It's unbeatable. I kid you not.

And quite simply, without the support and the love and the donations and the funding that we've had through Skem and this community and people. Skem Men Aces just wouldn't be where they are today. Its simple as that. You just wouldn't. I'm massively proud from where I come from. I've been in Skem for over 50 years.

I can't thank them enough. I mean that from the bottom my heart. I cannot thank this town enough. They really have taken the club to its heart. And not just our club, there's other organisations out there that Skem are proud of and embraced. But the support they get. I mentioned it early on. You know, we do some fundraising in the Asda. If we sit there, £1,500 in two days. I remember I did the same exercise a few years ago in Ormskirk, sat there for a couple of days. Got £60. Tells me everything.

Those that have not got it, give it. Simple as that.

And I'll be forever ever grateful for Skem. And if anybody needs an accolade. You know Skem Men Aces have many many an accolade. If anybody needs an accolade. It's Skelmersdale. It gets knocked from pillar to post and we hear all the crap because crap makes good news, doesn't it? But you very seldom hear the good stuff about Skem. The good stuff far outweighs anything else.

So thank you again from the bottom of my heart and from every single lad in the club. Thank you so much for putting it on the map.

And long may it continue. Thank you.


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