FORFAR Athletic officially launched their new 3G pitch on Monday night with a match against SPL side Aberdeen, writes Sarah McLean.
Attending a welcome reception and the match itself were a number of local dignitaries and representatives of sporting bodies throughout Scotland, including SFL chief executive David Longmuir. There were also representatives from the other three Angus clubs in attendance to help the Loons celebrate.
The 3G pitch, a true community effort, was put in place over the summer break and finished just in time for Forfar’s first home game of the season - a Ramsdens cup tie against Dunfermline back in July. Since then the pitch has grown to have the reputation of one of the finest 3G pitches in Scotland - a fact the club is rightfully proud of.
Funding for the pitch came from the Scottish Government initiative Cashback for Communities in which money from crime goes towards community efforts throughout Scotland and Angus Council. The pitch is now available for all sporting clubs in the local area, a feat that could not have been achieved with the former traditional grass pitch.
Speaking before the match were Alastair Donald, Forfar Athletic chairman; Councillor Jeanette Gaul, Colin Brown, Forfar Farmington chairman; and Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland.
Mr Harris said: “CashBack is an excellent complementary Scottish Government funding stream and sportscotland is delighted to have been involved in this project with Forfar Farmington, Forfar Athletic and Angus Council at Station Park. A partnership approach is critical to the success of a project like this.
“The £300,000 of CashBack funding has helped deliver a first-class synthetic grass pitch, which will undoubtedly be a real asset to a number of other clubs in the community and surrounding areas.
“Sportscotland is committed to investing in quality facilities as part of its drive towards developing a world-class sporting system at all levels and the new 3G pitch at Station Park will help to increase the number of children involved in sport and physical activity, as well as widening the sporting opportunities throughout the area.”
Councillor Gaul added: “I’m delighted to see this synthetic pitch opened in Forfar, as it will prove of great benefit to the clubs and school children who train and play in all weathers.
“Angus Council has contributed a total of £45,000 to this project, which includes £20,000 from the Forfar Common Good Fund, as a means to support and encourage sporting activity in our communities.
“We are pleased to be working with other partners to deliver this new all-weather pitch.”
Mr Donald and Mr Brown were both quick to sing the praises of the new pitch and the benefits it will now bring to everyone in the town not just the football clubs.
Mr Donald said that Forfar Athletic were keen to get the best pitch possible and so they followed the lead of Airdrie United whose synthetic pitch has often been hailed as one of the best in the country.
He also praised the companies involved in bringing the plan to life, Hunter Construction and Greenfields, and former Forfar Athletic chairman Neill Wilson who was instrumental in bringing the project together.
He said: “This is the culmination of many months of hard work and planning, a project like this does not just happen, it requires hours of discussion and negotiation with all the bodies concerned.
“The journey has been tense and fraught with difficulties but at no time did we consider not progressing, it was clear that this had to be done and the unique opportunity we had was too good to turn down.
“The assistance on offer to us via sportscotland and the SFA East Region has been immense and all three partners in the new venture offer their sincere gratitude to them.”
Mr Donald continued: “I believe that senior football clubs should be at the heart of the community and the synthetic pitch has achieved this by being accessible to all.”
Mr Brown added that it is a great achievement to bring a facility of this calibre to the town of Forfar.
David Longmuir also sang the praises of the new 3G pitches and is pleased that Forfar Athletic is just one of many SFL clubs making the change to a synthetic surface. He said: “Two winters ago, 158 games were called off due to inclement weather, with these new surfaces there is much less chance of this happening.
“Pitches can now be used 24/7 and this can only benefit the communities involved.”