Six football teams came together to compete for Street League Nottingham’s Graduate Cup, which has been renamed the ‘John Martin Trophy’ in honour of a local man who spent most of his life coaching football to young people.

Street League is the national charity which uses the power of football to tackle youth unemployment. Nationally 81% of graduates from the Street League Academy move into employment, education or training. 

John passed away unexpectedly aged 50 in January and, instead of flowers at his funeral, his family asked for donations to be made to Street League. In return, the charity decided to dedicate the trophy to John’s memory. 


The Graduate Cup takes place every three months and features teams of young people who have graduated from Street League’s award-winning employability programme, as well as teams from local companies which support the charity’s work. More pictures here.

John’s sister, Diane Wilks, explained: “John loved football his entire life, it was in his blood. He played on the streets of Stonebroom in Alfreton as a youngster, and then for various amateur teams throughout his life.

“He never stopped playing football, even when most others would have given up; at 50 he was still going strong, and the Sunday before he passed away he played a full 90 minutes against players less than half his age and still more than held his own. 

“John also loved coaching – two generations of kids from the estate were taught to play by John, and he also coached youngsters from the Nottingham area as part of a scheme run by Nottingham Forest in his spare time.”


Diane added: “John would have been delighted to know that he has helped youngsters improve their futures.”

Three teams from Domestic & General, one from Capital One, one from Hyson Green Youth Centre and a team of Street League graduates played out the tournament at Play Football Arnold, with a team from D&G emerging victorious.

John left behind two sons Blake and Ryan, and eight-year-old Blake was on hand to present the trophy. 

Would you or your company like to support the work of Street League in Nottingham? We offer a range of opportunities for local businesses to get involved, from football fun and fundraising to work placement schemes for our graduates. Contact [email protected] 07795 516210 for more details.