Football project has brought quality new venue to town
Wednesday, 4th August 2010.
If you are not a football fan or player, and think the new football complex in Haverhill is irrelevant to you, think again.
Although the site has a primarily sports purpose, it is also a high-quality new venue for all sorts of other activities.
The New Croft, as it has been christened in honour of Haverhill Rovers' former ground at Hamlet Croft, will no doubt see plenty of on-field drama and excitement.
But off the field it has a splendidly-appointed new hall which can take events for over 150 people and includes a bar.
There is also a committee room for smaller gatherings and meetings in general.
Community groups unconnected with football are already using the facilities, and that is the way it has to be in the future if the complex is to be viable.
For Haverhill Rovers president Terry McGerty the official opening of the complex this week may mark a very important stage in a project which has taken nearly 20 years of his life, but it isn't the end.
It is the beginning of a new phase of ensuring the facility is used by as many parts of the community as possible to keep it viable.
A board has been formed to run the Haverhill Community Sports Association, which is now in charge of the complex.
Monday saw the keys of the £2m development handed over from St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which has led the way so far, to the chairman of the new board, local solicitor Tom Harrison.
The project is fortunate to have other business poeple from the town who have agreed to become board members, some of them also members of town business group Haverhill Enterprise, of which Mr McGerty is also a member.
They include the managing director of Herberts Richard Herbert, local accountant Larry Dilloway and the head of Samuel Ward Arts and Technology College Howard Lay.
It is their job to ensure the facility is run properly and is financially stable, Mr Harrison explains.
"There is oodles of goodwill for it, so it has to work," he said. "But there is no doubt it will need to run on goodwill and volunteers. Nobody is sticking any more money in."
He said Mr McGerty's role had been vital in achieving the complex at all.
"I'll say this for him because Terry won't say it himself, but he more than anyone has devoted what must feel like a lifetime to this project," he said.
But both Mr McGerty and Mr Harrison are more concerned with what the complex will mean for Haverhill than what it means to them to have seen it come to fruition.
From the Haverhill Rovers standpoint the new ground is already having noteiceable benefits before a ball has been kicked in anger on it.
"It has already attracted players and kept players here," said Mr McGerty. "Some of our players have been offered sizeable amounts to go to other teams, amounts we cannot match from our budget, but they have stayed with us."
"We have kept our budget the same as it was last year, but we feel the new ground will attract even more to come here in time.
"It is the end of a period of uncertainty which had been hanging over the old Croft for so long. No one is asking 'will it happen?' any more.
"The old ground was not at all satisfactory - in fact it was close to an embarrassment.
"But we have a 50-year lease here now. After that they can do what they want because we won't be here."
Part of the funding has come with a football development programme requirement from the Football Association, and Rovers are already ahead of the current targets, with their 22 teams - possibly soon to be 23 - ranging from under 8s to the first team, the veterans and the female teams.
As well as the main ground, there are pitches for training purposes, and coaching sessions for youngsters have already been started.
But beyond that the main building has already catered for council meetings, Havebury meetings, weddings, birthday parties and christenings.
"In fact, the line dancers will be here quite shortly," said Mr McGerty. Already the word is getting around.
* If you would like to book space at the complex, contact John Linnane on 07759 631307, and the association also offers the services of an event organiser, Fiona Pilcher on 07889 444253.
Comment on this story
You must be logged in to post messages. (login now)