Date published: 18/11/2014
Five generations of football talent were present at Gosforth Bohemian FC recently to celebrate the completion of pitch improvements at the club’s Benson Park home. The opening ceremony at Newcastle’s oldest football club was made special by the presence of Tom Stothart, who made his debut for the club in 1947, and his great-great-nephew Patrick Harrison, who plays for the club’s Under-16 side.
The project was made possible thanks to a £67,317 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities. A further £20,000 was provided by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.
Gosforth Bohemian FC, founded in 1894, faced an uncertain future after devastating floods in 2012 submerged the first-team’s pitch in over a foot of water. This caused months of disruption and despite fixtures eventually resuming at Benson Park, the damage caused by the flooding meant that the pitch was often in an unplayable condition.
However, thanks to the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and FSIF, the club have been able to carry out extensive work to the pitch’s drainage system and playing surface, ensuring that Bohemian’s players can look forward to a largely uninterrupted fixture schedule this winter. The funding has also enabled the club to purchase new goal posts, install a new pitch perimeter barrier and re-surface the existing car park.
The new Benson Park pitch will immediately benefit the club’s three senior teams and the newly formed Under-16 side. The club has ambitions to set up further teams as result of their improved facilities, including re-establishing a girls’ team.
The club worked in partnership with the Northumberland FA to secure a £67,317 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. The club raised over £15,000 themselves through player donations, sponsors and fundraising events, highlighting the club’s community spirit.
The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Football Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £500m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £700m – over £1.2bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 94 grants worth £10.9m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £21.8m across the whole of Northumberland.
By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.
Funded with £6m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Andy Parkinson, Club Secretary, Gosforth Bohemian FC, said: “This is another milestone in this club’s 120-year history. We pass on enormous thanks to everyone at the Northumberland FA, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and FSIF for their support. I’d also like to thank players, supporters and sponsors for all their generous donations to make this project happen.
“This creates a legacy to allow the club to play on here for many more years. The first game is just the start. We’re looking forward to welcoming many people from the community and football family to share our great news. After that, the strong teamwork continues at the club to ensure this facility is maintained and utilised to enhance the positive football environment the Bohs are renowned for.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation is responsible for managing and delivering the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England. The pitch improvements are an example of the positive impact that this funding is having on our grassroots game. First-class facilities like this are crucial to creating more opportunities for local people to enjoy regular sport.
“Aided by the Northumberland FA, Gosforth Bohemian FC deserve huge credit for working with the club to deliver this project, using funding provided by the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Sport has the power to make a positive impact on the health of communities and this wonderful new facility will improve the sporting experience of local people and encourage them to be more active.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman, Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “I am incredibly pleased that Gosforth Bohemian FC have been able to carry out such vital pitch improvements thanks to support from the FSIF. I know just how hard members of the club have worked to secure a long term future for Gosforth Bohemian FC and I’d like pass on my congratulations to all of those who have worked so tirelessly to provide the community with a first-class football facility.”
For more information contact:
- Michael Wood, Club Coach and Communications, on 07920 710 626 or firstname.lastname@example.org - Bradley Cleveland on 0845 345 4555 Ext: 4282 or email@example.com
Photos courtesy of Shaun Smith:
Website http://100groundsclub.blogspot.co.uk/ Twitter https://twitter.com/shauneeboy100gc