HUNDREDS of footballers celebrated a great season in the Bolton, Bury and District Football League at a presentation evening at the Victoria Halls in Bolton recently.

Ex-Bolton Wanderers legends Tony Kelly and John McGinley were on hand to present the trophies to some of the brightest prospects in the area.

Young stars from Prestwich Marauders were some of the many teams who received accolades at the event. The Saracens finished the 2014/15 season as runner-up in the Under-11s E League having won 13 out of their 18 games. They came agonisingly close to claiming top spot, missing out on the division title by just one point.

League chairman Warren Barlow has been amazed with the success of the last campaign and hopes it can continue to go from strength to strength.

He said: “It doesn’t seem that long ago we had five-a-side football for our u7s and u8s and seven-a-side for our u9s and u10s.

“There’s now nine-a-side for u11s and u12s and 11-a-side for u13s to u18s with around 580 teams, 6,500 players, 1200 coaches and, 150 referees.

“We have also had many more volunteers and supporters enjoying the game in this area.

“It has been a great year for the league as our key developments included working on partnerships with Macron Sports and Warburton’s, creating new futsal programmes at Ladybridge High, ESSA Academy and Bolton University which will be further enhanced in the 2015/16 season.

“We have also an under-13s futsal competition which is running until July 25 which is sponsored by Warburton’s, futsal coaching and referee courses which again have all been funded and offered to members at no cost.

“We are a huge league which just seems to get better and better with time.

“That is no mean feat considering the pressure in the game and the issues around money in the game not filtering down to grassroots and the apparent lack of respect some in the professional game show to officials, fans and the game in general.

“Much of that is down to people, good people who treat others as they wish to be treated themselves.”

Meanwhile another major improvement is the summer league trying to encourage young players to play in warmer conditions.

Barlow added: “We have given another 180 teams (around 2,000 players) free opportunities to play throughout the summer period and also allowed our referees and coaches added benefits.

“As we move to the start of the 2015/16 season we are now looking at providing various forms of football throughout the year for around 850 teams and 10,000 players, which is a huge increase in the previous 12 months and testament to the hard work of many enthusiastic people who have a passion to improve the health and wellbeing of our community and enhance the game environment for all.”