A GREAT sense of community spirit and hard work are the key ingredients behind the success of the one of the city’s oldest football clubs as Christ the King celebrates its 70th anniversay this year.
The popular club, based in Coundon, has grown from strength to strength since its inception back in 1946 when it was founded by the then Christ the King (CTK) church committee.
Starting with just the one team, CTK now boasts no fewer than 31 youth sides (ages 7-18) and three senior teams, with over 400 players taking to the pitch on a weekly basis.
Not many other clubs in the city and the West Midlands region can provide as many opportunities for youngsters to get involved with the sport.
Club President, Jim Brown, points its success towards community volunteers who put in long hours to provide players with a platform to develop as players and people.
“It all started when a team of local people from the parish put on a game of football for the youth and withing a few years we had two teams and a junior side,” Jim told the Observer.
“Football’s popularity grew and the club expanded with a Sunday team being introduced. We started with just one team and since then we have grown in popularity and we now boast 34 teams.
“The club is run by a committee and chairman who all work very hard to keep the club going.
“They get a lot of support too from over 400 people who are either playing, coaching or assisting in some form to make sure we can put teams on the pitch.
“We’ve enjoyed a number of success down the years. We’re unbeaten at the Ricoh Arena, we’ve mutiple cup competitions and we’ve been prominent in the local junior leagues.
“Football goes in cyles – sometimes you go down for a while but then you come back up and enjoy your time at the top.”
As well as offering youngsters a chance to take up the sport, CTK also provides a successful platform for players to break into the professional ranks.
One of the stars from Jimmy Hill’s famous 1960s Sky Blues side Dietmar Bruck has his football routes at CTK, while midfielder Conor Thomas and Callum Wilson, who is now one of the top strikers in the country, both played for the club during their junior years.
Another player to come through the youth ranks at CTK is midfielder Daniel Crowley who is now on the books at Arsenal and the 18-year-old is predicted to become a future England international.
“Players that have come through CTK and gone on to make a career in football always stand out with that ability,” Jim continued.
“I’d like to think the club helped them on their journey by nurturing their talent so that they could so on to a better level and hopefully more players can go on to bigger and better things.
“It’s excellent when you see the likes of Callum Wilson and Conor Thomas progressing their career and playing at a high livele knowing that they had their football education here at CTK.
“We’re very proud to boast that and we can only be pleased for them because it’s every young players’ dream to become a professional footballer.”
A series of events have taken place throughout the year already including a special evening with former Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler and last month the club hosted its hugely popular annual Gala Day, where almost 1,000 children took part in a football tournament.
Past and current members are also being encouraged to attend a special gala dinner at the Royal Court Hotel on November 12 where the special guests will be the Lord Mayor and the Arch Bishop of the Birmingham diocese.
And Jim is very confident that the club will continue to grow and celebrate its success long in the future.
He added: “We began 70 years ago and through hard work, endeavour and perseverance by a lot of loyal people we are still here today and going very strong.
“We want to keep that momentum and look to the future so that we can still be here in ten years time to celebrate our 80th anniversary
“Through the help and grace of those people help and support us we’ll keep doing our best.”