Plans to create a dedicated football pitch in a north Newcastle village have taken a major step forward thanks to a four-figure donation from a regional employer.
Hazlerigg Victory FC has been working towards raising the money needed to erect a fence around the Hazlerigg Welfare ground at which its plays its senior and junior teams’ home matches, in order to ensure it remains safe to play on.
As things stand, the ground is open for anyone to access, which means that the entire pitch and surrounds have to be checked thoroughly by the coaches before every training session and match to ensure nothing dangerous or unpleasant has been left on the grass.
The club management team has been given an estimate of around £20,000 to get the ground completely protected with a new fence, which they believe is essential if the club is going to continue to grow.
And having made a strong start to their fundraising campaign by raising over £3,000 already, the club has now been awarded a grant of £8,000 from The Banks Group, via the Banks Community Fund.
The club, which now has well over 110 senior and junior players on its books, is now looking at whether the Banks Group’s grant will enable them to make a start on the enclosure work, and is continuing to fundraise to keep the total rising.
While the village has had an adult football club for most of the last 60 years, Hazlerigg Victory FC was only founded by local man Mark Bullock in 2007 after its predecessor club has folded a few years earlier.
The club’s ethos is to make football as accessible as possible to all, and several junior teams have been established on the back of the two senior teams’ success to ensure local young people have footballing facilities available to them within their own community.
Mark Bullock says: “Getting this project off the ground is the most important thing that the club has on the go at the moment, and the funding we’ve won from Banks will go a long way towards making it happen.
“We’ve made terrific progress since setting up the club eight years ago, both with the senior teams that came first and the junior sides that soon followed, but we’ve always had to manage the consequences of not having the ground to ourselves, and it takes a lot of time for everyone to make sure any broken glass, dog muck or other items are cleared away from the pitch.
“Being able to provide a fence around the ground would pretty much make this problem a thing of the past, and the Banks Group grant could potentially allow us to get work under way in the near future.
“From a playing point of view, the club is in just about the best position we’ve ever been, and we’re increasingly hopeful that we’ll soon be able to put the facilities in place that match all the effort and energy that’s gone into getting us where we are today.”
The Banks Group, which currently employs over 200 people across the nearby Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mine sites, is the company behind a proposed new residential development to the west of Hazlerigg village and the south of Brunswick village which would encompass around 500 homes on a 20 hectare site.
The scheme would be designed to complement and enhance the existing character of the local area, as well as to bring to it a wide range of economic, social, environmental, employment and supply chain benefits.
Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at the Banks Group, says: “Hazlerigg Victory FC has made fantastic progress in a very short time, and they set out a vision for their future that we’re very pleased to be supporting.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects, with funding decisions made by an independent panel. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.