New 3G pitch adds to the optimism at Linton Granta

A Linton Granta XI (in white) take on a Rest of the World XI to help mark the opening of the new 3G pitch at Linton Village College. Picture: Gary Ward, Sideline Sports Photography ANL-160607-110628002
A Linton Granta XI (in white) take on a Rest of the World XI to help mark the opening of the new 3G pitch at Linton Village College. Picture: Gary Ward, Sideline Sports Photography ANL-160607-110628002
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With an impressive new 3G pitch now ready to use and a trio of new first team players signed up, things are looking good for Linton Granta.

The Kershaw Premier League side played its part in the official opening of the new £223,000 artificial grass pitch at Linton Village College (LVC) on Saturday by fielding an XI for a charity match against a Rest of the World XI, which the latter won 7-4.

The following day, in what was part two of the celebrations, a charity seven-a-side tournament was also staged, with the £300 proceeds from the two events being donated to Winston’s Wish.

Linton Granta’s first and reserve teams play their home matches at the village recreation ground, but the new 3G will be the match pitch this season for its A team, while also being used for training by the whole club.

Granta began pre-season training on the new pitch on June 27, and have a friendly lined up on it on Saturday against Haverhill Borough (2pm kick off), and already the new facility has made a good impression.

Nigel De’Ath, Granta’s first team manager, said: “It will improve training facilities. We’ve had one or two new players this year who were impressed by the new training facilities.”

De’Ath, whose side finished ninth in the Kershaw Premier last season - an impressive achievement given they had only one point from their opening ten matches - has had a relatively calm summer in terms of player comings and goings, referring to it as more ‘evolution than revolution’.

Former Haverhill Rovers player Stuart Kingham has joined after spending last season at local rivals West Wratting, while defenders/midfielders Gavin Taylor and Lee Miller have also swapped Wratting for Linton.

The capture of ‘local lad’ Kingham has particularly pleased De’Ath, who said: “He’s a Linton boy and he’s obviously played at a higher level and we are pleased to have him back.

“He is available nearly every week. He’s a good lad, you know what you are going to get.”

Creative midfielder Steve McNicholas has retired and Dan De’Ath, the manager’s son and last season’s first team skipper, is away travelling until October, but the squad has largely remained intact from last season.

Striker Dale Archer has also stayed and De’Ath is hopeful that the former Soham Town Rangers man can form an effective vanguard with Darren Bicknell.

The new 3G pitch was made possible thanks to a £99,960 grant from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, while Linton Granta and Linton Aztecs also raised funding to make it possible.

The new pitch, which was officially opened on Saturday by Lucy Frazer MP for South Cambridgeshire, has enabled LVC to boost its sports provision for the local community including 21 affiliated grassroots teams and its partner clubs, Linton Granta and Linton Aztecs.

The two clubs and LVC worked in close partnership with the Football Foundation and Cambridgeshire FA to establish a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a forecast for how sport will be played on site.

As a result, the club will establish six new men’s teams and a further three women’s teams, while also increasing on-site participation by 61 per cent.

With the new season to look forward to, De’Ath joked: “My hope is to get our first win before we did last year, which isn’t setting the bar very high, as that was October 31.”