Uckfield’s all-weather pitch will be officially opened tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.
It has been built at Uckfield Community Technology College at a cost of just over £700,000 and has taken just over two-and-a-half years to complete since the inagural meetings were held.
The official opening by Uckfield mayor, Cllr Ian Smith, will be followed by a demonstration football match played by members of Grasshoppers Junior Football Club.
The idea of an all-weather pitch for Uckfield has been around for some time with various people, including the town council and Ian Bennett of Grasshoppers looking for a suitable location.
All-weather pitch committee
Spokesman for the all-weather pitch committee, Jeremy Hallett, said : “It wasn’t possible to get a location that ticked all of the requirements to make the project viable initially.
“Uckfield Town Council was again looking at the possibility when the Uckfield Community College Head (Hugh Hennebry) approached us with regard to using a pitch area that was of no use much of the time as it is often waterlogged.
“Having the pitch used by up to 1,700 children during school hours, with management, car parking and controlled access from Freedom Leisure outside of those hours meant that we had something to work on.”
Uckfield Grasshoppers and Uckfield Rugby Club have been heavily involved in the project.
Each club has development plans for even better training and care for their members agreed with the Football Association and the Rugby Football Union as conditions for receiving money for the project.
In addition to the £700,000+ cost, Freedom Leisure has spent £90,000 in improving its changing facilities and the club development plans will involve them in on-going costs of several thousand pounds a year.
Mr Hallett commented: “They have made big commitments to the Uckfield community with this project.”
He thanked Uckfield Lions and the people who give them money or leave money in their wills.
“The support they give to the community really does help. If you can imagine working away on something that you know will help others and then people offer financial or other support – it really does make a difference so we do encourage people to support community activities in Uckfield which really is a pretty special little town in so many ways, Mr Hallett said.
Where has the money come from?
|Football Foundation –||
|Sport England Inspired Facilities Programme||
|Uckfield Community Technology College||
|Uckfield Town Council||
|Uckfield Grasshoppers FC||
|Friday Media Trust||
|Uckfield Rugby Club||
How will people be able to book to use the pitch?
Bookings are made through Freedom Leisure (01825 761160) and the organisers are particularly keen to hear from organisations who wish to use the pitch during school holidays; for example local firms who might like to use the pitch for a staff match or clubs who want to organise events for children or adults.
“We would like to see it fully used by the local community,” Mr Hallett said.
There is also an Uckfield Sports Forum encouraging involvement in sports and leisure and if anyone individually or as an organisation wants to see what they’re starting to achieve they can contact Jeremy Hallett on 07876 275031 as forum tries to co-ordinate and improve more activities in town.
Who are the Grasshoppers?
Uckfield Grasshoppers Junior Football Club, which is sponsored by TR Fastenings,was established in 1982, It currently has more than 300 members aged 5-16, and provides youngsters with the opportunity of playing football in a safe environment. TR Fastenings has supported the club for the past three years and this season is delighted to announce that it will be the club’s main sponsor.
Cables snag delayed opening
The all-weather pitch would have been open much earlier this year had it not been for the discovery of large electrical cables which clipped a small corner of the pitch. They had to be moved before the base of the pitch could be completed and a start made of laying the artificial surface.
See our story published in June here
In April we reported that work was progressing well. Story here
A start to construction was delayed because of the wet weather last autumn. Story here