Community footballers in Northumberland can now enjoy an enhanced matchday experience after Coun Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, opened the doors to Ellington Juniors FC’s new changing pavilion.
The club has spent the last few years raising almost £500,000 to get its own home for the first time since it was formed in 1988 and it received backing from the county council to help meet the £650,000 target.
Harworth Estates, Sport England and CELL Big Local were among the other supporters and the club is continuing to source funding for a 3G floodlit training pitch that would also be used by the younger players for matches.
The new pavilion was also made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and the Government’s Football Foundation.
After netting a £99,974 grant from the Football Foundation, work began on the site last July. The changing pavilion will provide Ellington Juniors FC with their own facilities for the first time since the club was established in 1988.
The new facility comprises two changing rooms; officials’ changing room; toilets, including disabled access; kitchen; office space; and a club room.
In addition to this, new grass pitches have also been developed.
Ellington Juniors FC worked alongside Northumberland County FA to plan the growth of football provision at the club over the next five years.
The new facilities will help the club to realise its ambition of achieving FA Community Club status. There is also a focus to attract more female players and the anticipated growth from three to seven girls’ teams during that time will support this.
Ray Dunn, chairman of Ellington Juniors FC, said: “As a club we have worked extremely hard for the last few years ensuring that our new facilities are the very best that can be delivered.
“I am looking forward to seeing the first home game on the pitches and all the local community enjoying this clubhouse that has been lacking in the village.
“This is a massive step forward for grassroots football in the area.”
Coun Jackson said: “I was already aware of the fantastic fund-raising achievements of Ellington Juniors when I became council leader and I am delighted that our contribution has allowed the development to go ahead.
“I have been very impressed with the efforts of those running the club and this should be a proud moment for all that have played a part.”
Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Taking part in community sport at any level offers many benefits and rewards, not least the opportunity for people to enjoy themselves and socialise with different members of the community.”