Hornets home ground set for redevelopment
No football will be played at St John's Field for a minimum of two years while work is carried out on resurfacing the field and, as part of the final phase of redevelopment, rebuilding the clubhouse.
Dandy Town, who will play their home games at Goose Gosling Field while their home is closed, begin their Premier Division season with a match against X-Roads at 9pm tomorrow.
They will use fields at West Pembroke Primary, Northlands Primary and Berkeley Institute for their youth games while the senior team will train at Berkeley.
The plan to upgrade St John's Field was announced last October by Western Stars Sports Club and the management of Gorham's along with David Burch, the Minister of Public Works.
As part of the deal, Gorham's will take over a strip of unused Government land to create a connecting road to their store.
The field, which is prone to flooding during heavy rain, will be raised considerably and, when finished, will be on par with the National Stadium and North field, promised Devarr Boyles, president of Western Stars.
“What's happening at St John's is going to be the first of its kind, a public, private, government partnership with Gorham's heavily involved,” Boyles said.
“Gorham's are going to resurface the whole field and provide the substructure for lighting.
“They are also going to provide some of the initial funds towards the new build. As a result, we've had to relocate to three school sites; the under-7s programme is being held at Northlands, the under-9s and under-11s at West Pembroke and the under-13s to seniors are at Berkeley, with home matches for youth games at Berkeley on Saturdays.
“The senior programme for both cricket and football, effective November 1, will be away from St John's. We anticipate this will take a minimum of two years.”
The clubhouse, when completed in the final phase, will be a much-improved facility.
“We're looking to move away from traditional club models where they rely on bar receipts to carry the heavy lifting, financially,” Boyles explained.
“We're looking for corporate sponsors in the area to come in and offset costs and become sponsors. More importantly, we're trying to be self-sustaining and do things to generate income.
“In the purpose-built facility we're hoping to organise physiotherapy treatment for members of the public and are negotiating with two physiotherapy businesses. Being able to go outside and get on the grass could be a major attraction for the clients to come to St John's.”
Boyles added: “We're hoping this model is self-sustaining and it can be a model for all grass-roots clubs. That's the initial vision, that we'll have a resurfaced field and then do a bit of work on the infrastructure for lighting and then the last phase will be the build.
“We're probably going to hold on to the existing building for as long as we can before we take it down. The initial projection is that the new build will be the last phase.”
Boyles, himself a teacher, also spoke of the club's vision to have classrooms for an after-school programme.
“Some of our children can benefit from a more structured programme between 3.30pm to 5.30pm, until training starts,” he said.
n Four teams will use Goose Gosling Field as their home field, with Town and Robin Hood joined by First Division clubs Flanagan's Onions and Boulevard.
Goose Gosling has been the only ground for night football for the past couple of seasons, but this term PHC Zebras and Somerset Trojans will resume hosting night matches, according to the schedule.
Somerset will host their first match on November 14 when the Trojans host North Village on the Saturday night. The following Saturday, Somerset and PHC will play in another night match at Somerset.
The West Enders will also play home night matches against Hood and St George's on January 4 and 9.
PHC Field is set to stage their first night match on January 30 when the Zebras play Somerset Eagles. They will also play Southampton Rangers in a night match at PHC Field on Saturday, February 20.
UPDATE: this article has been amended to correct that Gorham's will take over a strip of unused Government land to create a connecting road to their store and not Gosling's as previously stated.