The confirmation of £321,450 in funding for a new 3G floodlit pitch at the New Croft has ended uncertainty over the future of Haverhill Borough.
The club’s future as a Thurlow Nunn League First Division side has been in doubt over the past few months after the Haverhill Community Sports Association (HCSA), which runs the New Croft, decided not to continue Borough’s groundshare arrangement with Haverhill Rovers beyond the end of this season in order to alleviate the overuse of the main pitch.
The funding windfall from the Football Foundation forms a major part of the £601,450 required for the project overall and now means the all-weather pitch will go ahead, with the scheme earmarked for completion for the start of the 2016/17 season.
Once it is ready Borough will be using it for all their home matches.
The news has delighted Borough chairman, Ben Cowling, who said: “Overall I’m just really glad this has come to a positive conclusion.
“What it means to the club is that we have got a guaranteed pitch, whereas for the last year we have spent considerable time, effort and money trying to find a solution to the ground problem because we were going to be homeless as of April.
“In football terms it means we now have a guaranteed long term future. It will enable us to build the club and provide football for local players.
“That was not guaranteed. Until this came about we were looking at travelling out of town and acquiring a ground share somewhere, whether that was financially or logistically viable with us being such a young club was debatable.
“In reality, should there be two football grounds in Haverhill, probably not. Is it best that all (senior) football should be played in one hub, I expect so.
“It is nice because it provides us with security. It’s probably going to be an attraction for players to come and play on a surface like that.
“We can now go with confidence to our sponsors and potential sponsors and stakeholders and say we’ve got a future and we know where we are going to be next year.”
Haverhill Rovers chairman Ali Shulver is equally as delighted, recognising that the all-weather pitch will benefit the club’s focus on nurturing children from as young as three and four-years-old (the age at which they first get involved with the Saturday Soccer School) through the youth system all the way to the senior set up.
He said: “I love being up at the club on a Saturday morning to see all the youth games going ahead, but you have to put your wellies on and go across fields knee high in mud to watch seven-year-olds play a match.
“What this will allow us to do is put the players into a better environment because the more games we can put on a 3G means less games being put on the outside pitches, so we should start to see some better football education at grass roots.
“The big problem we have is that we want players to bring the ball down and play it through the thirds but we must not lose sight of the fact that on a Saturday morning they are playing on a mud bath.
“There is a major project going on. It’s not a business that’s trying to make money and profit, it’s a business trying to make money so we can reinvest it back into sport.
“It’s good for the whole town, not just for Haverhill Rovers but for the whole town and for the whole community.”