Community hub plans for all-weather pitch at Station Park

Neill Wilson.

Neill Wilson.

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THE chairman of Forfar Athletic Football Club has offered his assurance that any all-weather facility installed at Station Park, part funded by a £300,000 “cash-back from criminals” award, will, wherever possible, be accessible for other sports groups in the town (writes Janet Thomson).

Neill Wilson was speaking out after it emerged the club, along with Forfar Farmington Football Club, has applied for a grant for £70,000 from the Forfar Common Good Fund. The application was made public at a recent meeting of Angus Council’s corporate services committee, which approved a similar award for £100,000 to the Forfar Sports Association for their all-weather pitch at Forfar Academy.

Mr Wilson (pictured below) said the cash-back from criminals award, which had come “completely out of the blue” last May, was for a joint venture between the two football clubs to install a full size 3G synthetic surface for use by the club and in particular to benefit the youth side. This would complement, and would not be in competition with, the Forfar Academy facility.

The two clubs have established a working group with representatives from SportScotland, the Scottish Football Association and Angus Council, to take the project forward. In their application for common good funding, they state the request is for underwriting with an in principal award up to a maximum of £70,000. This, along with the main award and “in kind” donations, should ensure Forfar has a sports/community facility that will enable the clubs to tackle the next ten years or so “with confidence”.

They stated: “In our opinion successful completion of this project will act as a spring board for a major re-positioning of the football clubs in the town.”

The all year/all weather use of the pitch would not only be for football matches and training, but various other sports, with Station Park becoming a “hub” for other activities with the option for school use and sports tournaments, attracting a wide range of visitors to the town.

They said: “This is a unique pivotal moment for the town of Forfar; it is our opportunity to step forward and say we want our senior football club (there are only 40 in the entire country) to lead the way, to be an example of how a club can be the centre of the community, leading and not being led or, even worse, not involved at all. We want community involvement in the “Station Park Experience” where opportunities will exist for all sections of the community to receive benefit from this project.”

Mr Wilson said boys football clubs and Farmington already made use of the facilities at Station Park, which is to host a representative amateur football match at the end of this month and a schoolboys’ under 18 international game.

He said: “We give the park out whenever we can. This will be of great benefit to our under 19 team, and next season we are also hoping to have an under 17 team. The board of Forfar Athletic have always considered the team to be a community asset and is certainly not a profit making operation. The running of Forfar Athletic is almost entirely dependant on a dedicated band of volunteers drawn from the town and surrounding district. The team helps engender a community spirit along with other organisations in the town and helps spread the name of Forfar worldwide.

“At present we are endeavouring to complete the not inconsiderable paperwork and other logistical issues associated with such a project, and if this comes to a successful conclusion then we will be inviting tenders early in the new year with a view to installing the new surface during the next close season.”