A football team’s home is their fortress – a place to take pride in, inspire those who call it their home and strike fear into visitors in search of points. At least it should be.
Whether you play in the Premier League or the Hull Under 13 Boys League, a home fixture should mean home advantage and a psychological edge from the moment the teams arrive for the game.
But how can a home ground become a fortress when it’s falling apart at the seams?
Alas, this is the position that many amateur football clubs up and down the country find themselves in every other week, due to the lack of decent football facilities in many parts of the UK.
Dave Capp of The Acorn FC in Barnsley is among them. When he should be relishing his side’s home games at Birdwell Recreation Centre and welcoming opposition teams with a mixture of pride and confidence in their surroundings, Dave finds that the reality is somewhat different.
“We are embarrassed beyond belief when we open the doors for visiting teams,” he told Club Website, having contacted us since we launched our campaign to improve football facilities in the UK.
The pictures tell the story: a building full of junk, holes in the ceilings with both windows and fire escapes boarded up. It has left Dave and the Acorn lads “at a loss” as to what they can do.
“Some of the lads want to carry out the repairs themselves but I have put them off because of health and safety risks… and anyway, Barnsley Council should be doing it.
“I am concerned about asbestos, legionella, gas/electrical safety, security, and all the other health and safety considerations. I have complained long and hard to the council but had no response.”
Whilst not in as bad a state as the changing rooms, the single pitch which comes with the changing rooms itself isn’t exactly in great condition.
The pitch “is flat, drains well but is constantly covered in dog mess, syringes, cans and bottles. It is rarely cut and I cannot remember the last time it was marked out.
“The goal mouth areas are not maintained and are dangerous. The nets are in a shocking condition and some days when we turn up the goal posts have been removed and are in the adjacent field!”
And all this for a cost of £460 per season, which the Wraggs League club pay to Barnsley Council for the maintenance of the facilities, as do three other football teams and one cricket team in the area.
It’s places such as this that we’ve been hearing so much about since we launched our facilities campaign and it’s exactly why we’re hitting the road again this weekend on the Club Website tour.
We’ll be checking out the facilities ourselves, chatting to Dave and other folk who use the facilities about their experience and then taking in a game of football or two.
To find out more about our plans for the Yorkshire leg of the Club Website tour, or if you want us to pay your football club a visit – either this weekend or later in the tour – please click here.