The brilliantly-named Manchester sports group making real difference after coming together 'in beautiful way'

"We’ve not had a marriage yet but I don’t think we’re far off."
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“It all came together randomly in a beautiful way.” This is how Happy Somedays founder Joe Farrar describes the creation of the group. 

Keen to make it clear that Happy Somedays is not a football club but more of a sports incentive group, Joe shared to ManchesterWorld how the small Wythenshawe-based gathering grew into an in-demand group of like-minded people. 

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Joe took us back to the very beginning, saying: “In 2015 I was playing a bit of Sunday League football. My mates and I set up a team, fast forward a few years and I get a bad injury that needed surgery after which I was told to not think about playing football again and that there was a good chance I’d have a bit of a limp. 

“As much as I wasn’t the best player I enjoyed it and I enjoyed being part of a group. Looking ahead and in 2020 I found myself thinking well I haven’t got a limp, I’ve been getting in the gym trying to lose a bit of weight that I’d put on after the injury. Because of this my mental health had taken a bit of a blow and my confidence wasn’t great. 

“I got in touch with a few people who I knew were still involved with Sunday League football. I didn’t want to sign for any teams, I kind of got the hint that they didn’t even want me training with this. I was pretty gutted.”

Happy Somedays in action earlier this year Happy Somedays in action earlier this year
Happy Somedays in action earlier this year

It was a chat with a friend which sparked the first talks of a friendly kick about, and the group picked up the pace from there. 

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“I got talking to a friend of mine about it," Joe continued. "He wanted to play football but he felt limited because of being a bigger guy. I said ‘this shouldn’t really happen,’ so instead we set up our own kick about. For the first session there were about six of us so we just had a three-a-side game, then we got up to five-a-side but then lockdown happened. 

“We looked out for the weekly updates, as vague as they used to be’ and then we were told outdoor sports could start up again. I then started getting WhatsApp messages from people asking if the kickabouts were happening and that they’d heard about through their mates. 

“I said we could set one up and we had 10 people straight away and we kept on expanding. Within three months we had 36 lads playing nine-a-side on each half of a full sized pitch. In its infancy it was really hard to manage just because it happened out of nowhere. 

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“We had a WhatsApp group with about 40 people in and it was great, someone suggested giving it a name, and I can’t take credit. I always think Manchester has two major heartbeats - music and football. I might be being biased as they are my two biggest passions in life other than my son obviously (don’t tell my partner about that).

“It exploded in that sense, and what was nice was two girls I went to school with contacted me saying that they’d always wanted to play football but they’d never come across any way they could do it recreationally with no prior experience. We booked a pitch and got the equipment, but at this point there was only me running things and I said that there’s enough men interfering in women’s hobbies, you only need to look on social media and some of the bile that gets put out there. So I said for them to do their own journey, I’m always here to help with advice and equipment. Their sessions thrived too, they started to get 20/25 people along.”

Joe believes the group has harnessed a truly inclusive ethos, and getting the word out to new people is getting easier. 

“It's really grown since this time really," he added. "I have people come to me and ask ‘how do we tell people what Happy Somedays is about?’ For me it needs to be a value based theme. We’re inclusive for everyone, we’ve got people from the LGBTQ+ community and people from all different religious backgrounds. We’ve got participants who have physical disabilities and visual impairments. We also have people who are open and frank about their experiences with mental health. Sticking to our guns and ethos have been key. 

Safe hands during a Happy Somedays gameSafe hands during a Happy Somedays game
Safe hands during a Happy Somedays game
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“Now we have fitness sessions and the age range of participants is around 13 up to over 60. We do badminton, organised walks and we've really built up something good these last four years. 

“The group is constantly evolving. We get mistaken for a club and whilst it's not the end of the world I do get a bit frustrated. This is just because I feel one of the big pulls for us is that people don’t have the pressure of commitment that you get at clubs. With us, some people come every week, some people come once a month and the other day we had a guy come who I’d not seen in a year - it was great to see him but there’s no pressure for people to come every week.”

Over the years, Happy Somedays has developed into more than just a chance to play sports and meet new people. Different interests of people joining the group have allowed new ventures to start. 

“We used to think of ourselves as a sports incentive but it's becoming more of a social sports platform. We have a podcast as well, one of the participants was keen to start that up and it helps to tie in with the values of Happy Somedays. We have people helping other people write CVs to get jobs, it’s become such a good networking platform for people to support each other. 

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“We have some players who could probably go and play Sunday League if they wanted to, but they don’t like the way that works. We play teams where they will say they are like us and are ‘pan-ability’ but then they’ve turned up with a team of Saturday League players and they’ve battered us. It’s then hard for me because I need to go and pick people up because this is them playing football to try it out. We always make it clear to people that we’re an incentive and not a team. 

“Since having the girls onboard and hearing their stories it's been a really eye-opener. They told me about how they were shunned from playing football from an early age, school age, and told that they should play netball instead. These girls are thriving now, we’ve had girls who have come and ended up joining clubs because they’ve got the confidence after playing. That’s what it's about, we want to give people the confidence to play. It's a credit to everyone who comes. 

Happy Somedays have played over in Blackpool and WalesHappy Somedays have played over in Blackpool and Wales
Happy Somedays have played over in Blackpool and Wales

“Being part of a team is wonderful. I’m a very social person, the lads WhatsApp group is over 100 people. I’ve had people who said they didn’t really have any friends out doing other social things like pub quizzes or going on walks with other people from Happy Somedays. That’s what it’s all about, I don’t think some people realise how much sport, particularly football, can unite people. We’ve not had a marriage yet but I don’t think we’re far off. 

“I’ve not had a personal Twitter for years, but I felt I needed to set one up with what was happening. We set up an account for Happy Somedays and we had some follows from other similar groups. It’s all been through social media, there are some good groups in Wales so we’ve been there a couple of times and also over to Blackpool. 

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“The hardest part with us being self-funded is being in Manchester. There are so many clubs and pitches are like gold-dust. We only this year got a permanent home through lottery funding, before that we were bouncing around pitches. We’ve got a nice hub at a local school now and they are great to us. We can host teams there now because we can book the pitch at the weekend. 

“We’d love to do more travelling. If I had a magic wand I’d love to have our own bus because there are a lot of teams down south and over in Ireland that are doing similar things. We call them Networking Friendlies and they’re great as after the game you can go back and get a bite to eat, a drink and just have a chat. 

“If another group like Happy Somedays pops up down the road I don’t see it as being bad. I’d get in touch with them and get involved with them. Another group has been set up where we are in Wythenshawe, they’ve set up a mental health awareness football team. I’m trying to help them out by getting them a kit and things like that because this will enrich my community and I’m proud of where I’m from.”

Happy Somedays is a group that is constantly on the rise. With numbers growing, there’s plenty to be excited for as they look towards the future. If this seems like something you’re interested in, you can check out everything that they have to offer including getting booked onto a session on their website.