Established in 1989, Manchester Rovers provide amateur football for men on Saturdays and Sundays, and women on Sunday afternoons. The club has attained FA Charter Standard Adult Club which is awarded to clubs and leagues rigorously adjudged to be well-run and sustainable – and which prioritise child protection, quality coaching and implementation of the Respect programme.
Manager: Stuart Mason
The Saturday team play in the Manchester Saturday Morning FL Division 2.
Manager: Graham Kenny
The Sunday team play in the Cheshire & Manchester Sunday League Division 1
The Sunday Accounts team play in the Manchester Accountants Sunday League Division 1
The Womens play in the Cheshire Women’s & Youth Football League Championship East Division
Manager: Stuart Mason
The Vets team play in the Cheshire Veterans Football League Division 7
About the Club
Manchester Rovers has a long and proud history. This is seen today in the increasing list of honours to which the club can put its name. However the foundations of this success were put in place in the 1989/90 season when Trevor Voyce formed the club as a Sunday team; then under the name Alpha Sports Football Club. Manchester Rovers longest serving player Dave Lavelle joined the club at the end of the 1994/95 season. Soon afterwards came the clubs first rebrand. The club became Grove FC in time for the 1996/97 season; named after new sponsors (The Grove on Seymour Grove, Old Trafford). The change bought immediate success. Under new Sunday manager Danny Fletcher and with the goals of Dave Lavelle the club were runners-up of the Manchester Publicity Sunday League Division 2; Dave Lavelle as the division’s top scorer.
A big change occurred for the 1998/99 season with Dave Lavelle and Graham Kenny taking over the club. However, it was a tough time for a club in transition, struggling in the top flight of the MPSL Division 1. The saying goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and so it proved, the club needed a new image and a fresh start and so for the 2000/01 season the green and white of Manchester Rovers FC was seen on the pitches of Manchester for the first time. With Graham Kenny already in his second year as Sunday manager the club entered the Manchester Amateur Sunday Football League. The following year a reserve Sunday team was formed in the MPSL and in 2002/03 season the club received the Manchester Publicity Sunday League Division 2 Secretary of the Year Award.
With the club moving in a good direction the end of the 2003/04 season saw a first big chance of silverware. The club reached the final of the Paul Myers Cup against Dukes 92. In an open, end to end match it came down to which team took their chances, with Rovers eventually being beaten 2-0. On the positive side some opposition players including Ged Hawes and Stew Townsend were in Rovers shirts for the start of the following season. The season saw the Sunday reserve team back after a two year break. Another big moment for the club occurred when the FA awarded Manchester Rovers Charter Standard Adult Club status.
2005/06 would prove to be a big season for Rovers. With Dave Lavelle in his second year as Sunday 1st team manager, Paul (Bills) McNeil ending as the MPSL Division Top Scorer, and after a hard fought season against Cheadle Hulme Albion, Manchester Rovers were crowned MPSL Division 2 champions. Off field success saw Rovers reserves being awarded the MASFL Most Sporting Team. The 2006/07 season saw more success with the club receiving the MPSL Division 1 Secretary of the Year award, on the pitch Dave Lavelle finished as MPSL Divisional Top Scorer and with Rovers coming close but just falling short of successive promotions.
Another big season followed in 2007/08. For the first time, alongside two Sunday teams a Saturday team was formed and entered into the Lancashire and Cheshire Association Football League. Dave Lavelle was the inaugural Saturday manager with Graham Kenny returning to manage the Sunday 1st team, Jamie Ashton entered his third season as Sunday reserve manager. The strong foundations the club had built and maintained over successive seasons was recognised when Manchester Rovers were awarded the Manchester FA Charter Standard Adult Club of the Year award. This was topped off with onfield success, the Sunday 1st team again hit the big time with promotion to the MPSL Premier Division.
In the 2008/09 season for the first time the club also added a ladies team under the management of Kevin Hawke. Further expansion came with the introduction of a Saturday reserve team. On field success was close. A Sunday 1st team that ended 8th in the MPSL Premier League faced a Sale team that were crowned undefeated champions of that league in the final of the Caroline Burke Memorial Shield. Nevertheless Rovers held a 1-0 lead at the break through Dave Lavelle but were punished with two quick goals in the second half, late penalty shouts were turned down and the match finished a close 2-1. It was clear the Sunday team was in the ascendency and the 2009/10 season saw a move to the MASFL Division 2 after the MPSL folded. However the change brought immediate success with Rovers clinching the title following an epic battle with Halton Juniors. With Rovers 5 points clear having played a game more a 3-3 draw left things as they were in the first head to head encounter. The return saw a 2-1 Rovers win and a match report that makes great reading.
The 2010/11 season saw Dave Lavelle retire (Paul Scholes style) with Graham Kenny and Sarah O’Meara taking over the club. The club also moved to the format of today with three first teams (Saturday and Sunday men’s and Sunday Ladies). Stuart Mason made his debut season as Saturday manager and Graham Kenny manager of both Sunday teams (Ladies and Men’s). Despite being newly promoted Rovers battled to successive promotions after finishing as runners-up of the MASFL Division 1 table. After a 2011/12 change to the Cheshire and Manchester Sunday League Division 2 Rovers again finished runners-up, on goal difference, to gain promotion for the 3rd successive season. However the season was crowned in glory. Having reached the Cheshire and Manchester Subsidiary Cup Final Rovers Sunday team faced Division 1 leaders Manchester Valiant. With a huge challenge facing Rovers the match was tense and hard fought, two freak goals, including a 90th minute equaliser for Rovers saw extra-time, then penalties. Rovers didn’t miss, after a Valiant penalty came back off the bar man of the match Riccardo Sattuar smashed home the decisive spot kick.
The Sunday team saw more success the following season, firstly the team was disappointed to only finish 3rd in their debut top flight season, secondly the team reached 2 cup finals. The Division 1 Cup Final saw Rovers go 2 down against a Withington Wanderers side they just couldn’t figure out. Once they did the floodgates opened and two late goals saw the game enter extra-time. The momentum just fell away as somehow Withington kept Rovers out, penalties followed, this time it wasn’t to be. However the 2012/13 season ended with more silverware, a 1-0 win against The Urmston saw Rovers win the prestigious Godfrey Wild Trophy. 2013/14 saw a return to league success. Having battled out a long and very hard fought campaign Rovers pipped an excellent Levenshulme side to the title on the last day of the season, the club’s first top flight league trophy.
Stuart Mason managed the Saturday team to a succession of respectable finishes in a tough Division A of the Lancashire and Cheshire Association Football League between 2010 and 2014, the club peaking in 6th place in 2011/12. Meanwhile the Ladies team achieved a series of solid mid table finishes in the Greater Manchester Women’s Football League over the same period. The club ended its 25th season with a championship trophy and three well established teams. The Ladies team will be challengers in the restructured GMWFL Division 2, a Saturday team in transition will play in Division C of the LACAFL and the Sunday team will defend their title in the CMSFL.