Junior football: Dennis delivers yet another league win

The talented Athletico Knuzden team who have won another league title

The talented Athletico Knuzden team who have won another league title

First published in Sport

DENNIS Hill could call time on his trophy-laden spell with Athletico Knuzden after guiding them to their sixth East Lancashire Alliance title in seven years.

Knuzden’s Head coach masterminded the all-conquering Under-15 side to another championship, winning all their 18 games and firing in a century of goals.

“I’ve loved my time with Athletico, but maybe it is time to move on to another challenge,” said Hill, who played for Clitheroe in the FA Vase Final at Wembley and served his apprenticeship at Turf Moor.

“We’ve won the title every year bar one, I think, and that’s a remarkable achievement by all the boys who have represented the club.

“I love coaching them, but I’m involved at Everton in their youth set up and have a full time job, so my time is getting less and less.

“I’ve got a meeting with the parents next month and I’ll make my decision after that.

“But it not about me, though, it is about the kids and they’ve nothing to prove because they've all performed superbly.”

The former Darwen boss faces a big decision on his future, though, with Knuzden in the hunt for a league and cup double under the management team of Hill and ex-Clitheroe man Andy Taylor. They lock horns with Lammack Juniors at Darwen’s Anchor Ground this month with dynamic duo Dexter Slater (44) and Liam Atkinson (32) having shared 76 goals between them.

“We’ve gone from strength to strength this year, winning the league, making the semi-final of the Lancashire Cup, which was a great effort, and have a cup final to look forward to,” added Hill.

“I remember one of our first games when we took charge was against Accrington Stanley Juniors – and we lost 9-0. Some of the kids came off the pitch crying, and we were determined that they would start to enjoy it and be competitive.

“They trained harder and longer, and they saw for themselves how they could improve.

“We play pass and move football – we don’t lump it up the pitch – and now we are the best junior team in our league.”

Hill, a manager at Royal Mail, kick-started his career at Turf Moor when was 16, before spells with Great Harwood, Lancaster and Clitheroe.

“I always tell the kids to work hard and show dedication because you never know who is watching.

“Just before I signed for Burnley, I was playing for local side Blue Star and the manager told me that David Moyes, who was manager at Preston then, was coming to watch me.

“I never thought it would happen, but sure enough Moyes came to the game and saw me play. A lot of kids have too many distractions these days, with computers, Facebook (etc) but if you have that dedication and will to learn you can achieve your dream. I played over 500 games in non-league, and whatever level you play at you must that dedication and fire in your belly.”

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