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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 11:39 GMT
Proud Southall's split personality
By BBC Sport Online's Stuart Roach
Never before have the cries of "There's only one Southall" been more passionate as this season.
One of non-league football's oldest clubs - they were formed in 1871 - has been suffering something of a split personality for the past 12 months, with two incarnations currently claiming credence to the Southall title.
Officially, that honour now belongs to Southall FC of the Combined Counties League, while Southall Town of the Hellenic League have been recognised as a new club.
The mere existence of the two teams has meant confusion for followers of the club, not helped by Southall Town's current ground share with Yeading FC, a club which played landlord to the original Southall last season.
Confused? You should be, though Southall, with former England defender Terry Fenwick now at the helm, are aiming to emerge from the shadows to rebuild the club's fortunes.
Fenwick was taken on last summer as the club's unpaid director of football, with specific instructions to develop Southall's standing in the community and to encourage more Asian youngsters to take up the game.
But it's not easy developing community links when your club does not even play in the community.
Southall FC has officially been homeless since the mid-90s, when their Western Road home of more than 120 years was lost under a housing development, and the club currently ground shares with Buckinghamshire-based Chalfont St Peter.
Some proud history is now buried under the Western Road housing estate, not least Wembley appearances in 1937, for the Middlesex Senior Cup final, and 1986, when a Southall side boasting a young Les Ferdinand up front were beaten 3-0 by Halesowen in the FA Vase final.
Alan Devonshire is another Southall old boy to have gone on to enjoy the professional ranks and the club are desperate to ensure the current crop of local youngsters are given the same chances to shine.
That means creating openings for previously indifferent Asian youngsters in one of London's most heavily-populated Asian centres.
"It's all about being given opportunities," says Southall public relations manager Andy Fitzsimons.
"Thirty years ago, black players struggled to make a name for themselves within the English leagues simply because of their colour, not so much their abilities.
"Asian players are the same and it will only be a matter of time before the professional circuit starts to see more Asian players within the game.
"There seems to be a stigma attached to Asian players that, whatever happens, they will never be able to make the grade; comments like they are 'not strong enough on the ball' or 'no good in the air'.
"These statements are ridiculous and are often made by people with very little insight into sport in general.
"I have had first hand experience playing with and against Asian players and, if anyone actually took the time to go an watch the Asian tournaments during the summer, I think they would be very surprised by how high the standard is."
Southall aim to introduce summer camps and community projects to ensure that local youngsters are coming through the ranks by the time the club secures a return to the town, with a proposed 4,000-seater stadium at Glade Lane currently awaiting the green light from the council.
There is clearly no short-term fix to the club's current plight, and a youthful Southall side currently sits just below the mid-table obscurity of the Combined Counties League, the division into which Southall slipped after finishing bottom of the Ryman League last season.
Fenwick recently undertook greater responsibility for coaching the side and is keen to build on the area's untapped talent.
He said: "The standard of the Asian players at training camps we have staged has been highly impressive.
"We had players coming from as far as Reading and the club can build on its links with the Asian community.
"In the past, Asian youngsters have been reluctant to play football as many of their families would not have encouraged it.
"We have to break down the barriers and make this a community club and a community game."
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