THE quality of pitches at a Suffolk club will be improved thanks to a Football Foundation grant.
Sporting 87 FC have been awarded £57,332 towards work costing £85,998 to support the grass pitches at their Victory Ground home in Bury St Edmunds.
The grant, which will be spread across the next ten years, came as the result of a report carried out by Will Parker on behalf of the Grounds Management Association.
Will’s grounds maintenance company, Parkers Pitches, are official sponsors of the Suffolk FA Pitch Improvement Programme and have proved a vital asset in highlighting and supporting local clubs to use the FA PIP programme to support work that is required to improve their pitches.
Jonathan Warnock, who is Football Development Director at Sporting 87 as well as first-team manager, said: “The money is being used for more grass seed, fertiliser and weed control measures.
“In the first two or three years the money will be spent on improving the grass density, and in future it will be looking at thatch and other issues which our pitch report will advise.”
The pitches at the Victory Ground are already well maintained, but the money will enable them to flourish in the future.
Warnock said: “Yes, the pitches are good but that has only been possible as a result of previous investment and the hard work of the groundsman.
“Had that not have happened in the past the pitches wouldn’t be as good as they are now; it’s a constant battle!
“They get a lot of football on them and we want more! In order for that to happen the pitches need improving further. If you looked at areas the grass covering is thin, there are weeds, which need dealing with. It doesn’t take much for pitches to go downhill.”
There are a total of nine pitches – two full-size pitches, one three-quarter size pitch, two 9 v9 pitches, two 7 v7 pitches, two mini soccer pitches – as well as warm-up areas on the Nowton Road site.
The club have more than 30 teams from under-8s up to under-18s as well as adult sides, all of them use the Victory Ground except for their Under-18 Thurlow Nunn Youth League side who play at AFC Sudbury’s ground, although they can’t all use the venue simultaneously.
Warnock added: “Jodie Allard at Suffolk FA has been brilliant and I would encourage any club to get in contact so that she can support you.”
Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Jodie Allard said: “Congratulations to Sporting 87 Football Club for securing support from the Football Foundation’s Enhanced Grass Pitch Maintenance fund to support the development of their grass pitches.
“The Victory Ground is a key grass pitch site within West Suffolk which becomes a hive of activity on the weekend when local teams take to their vast number of grass pitches.
“I am sure that this funding, alongside the continued dedication of the network of volunteers who maintain the Victory Ground, will ensure that the site continues to host a fantastic standard of grass pitches for those who utilise them.”
Action is pictured above from the 2015-16 Youth Cup Finals Day hosted by Sporting 87 at the Victory Ground.