Grassroots football club in Harborough is urging the council 'please let us take control of our own destiny'
Borough Alliance Football Club has plans to redevelop their ground - but to do that they will need to take over the lease from the district council
A grassroots football club in Market Harborough is urging the district council – please let us take control of our own destiny.
Borough Alliance Football Club is a thriving, successful 17-year-old sporting set-up.
But the outfit, which boasts over 400 youngsters as well as adults, is desperate to take over the lease on its base at Symington’s Recreation Ground from the council.
“We were launched back in 2003 and we have gone from strength to strength.
“We have some fantastic people helping to run Borough Alliance FC as well as hundreds of amazing kids.
“We are a model community club,” said Lynda Meadows, the club’s safeguarding and welfare officer.
“But there is one overwhelming problem standing in our way.
“The district council has the lease on our clubhouse and the land here.
“We have been fighting for years to take it on and to take control of our own future.
“But we have got absolutely nowhere – and it is so hugely frustrating.”
She said they have “exciting” plans to totally redevelop their home off St Mary’s Road in the centre of town.
“Our ageing clubhouse is an eyesore – it’s shabby and horrible.
“It’s quickly becoming unsafe and it’s covered in graffiti.
“We are embarrassed when away teams come here to play here.
“We want to knock it down and put up a new purpose-built centre.
“Our showers are so bad that they’ve been condemned,” said Lynda, whose son, 10, and daughter, 12, play for the club.
“But the council won’t replace them.
“We have got some funding put aside.
“We’ll also hope to be awarded grants by local charities and handed Football Association grassroots cash.
“We have explored moving to other sites but it’s very difficult to find another home so well located in Market Harborough.
“We have about 400 kids aged from five upwards.
“They can just come along and train with an FA-qualified coach for just two pounds a week if they don’t want to play for one of our teams.
“We have a men’s team and veterans’ side and are starting up two girls’ teams.
“Youngsters love it.
“Playing football helps to keep them fit, gets them out into the fresh air, builds teamwork and is also so good for their mental health.
“Mums and dads also enjoy coming along.
“And where else can you buy a cuppa and a bacon roll for just £2.50?”
The public-spirited mum said they are hoping to kickstart the new season in September as students return to school.
“We only started back last week after the coronavirus pandemic.
“We can only have so many groups at a time and one coach is working with five children,” said Lynda, whose club shares the site with Welland Valley Archers.
“But I’m sure we’ll get through this difficult time and we have so much to look forward to as a club.
“We are just urging the council now to get a move on and let us take over because at the moment our hands are tied.”
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien said: “Borough Alliance FC is a very successful football club and they deserve modern new facilities.
“I did prod the council about this a good while ago but heard nothing more.
“We just need to make sure that everyone who uses this site is happy with the outcome.”
Borough Alliance Football Club started playing at Meadowdale School when it was formed in 2003.
The club soon outgrew the space and moved to Symington’s Recreation Ground by 2007.
“We have attained FA Youth Charter Standard level for consecutive years and are delighted to have achieved FA Community Club Status in 2019,” said Lynda.
“We are totally focused on providing opportunities for children of all abilities to take part and enjoy playing football in a safe, fun-packed and inclusive environment.”
A Harborough District Council spokesman said: “It is great that Symington’s Recreation Ground is used to promote inclusive activity, and discussions are ongoing with users of the site regarding its future use.
“We need to be mindful, as part of these considerations, that the rec is used by a number of sports and community groups, as well as for events like the carnival and, of course, by the public.
“We also need to ensure that this popular open space is maintained and monitored throughout the year.”
He added: “Whilst activity at the rec has been limited in recent months, due to the pandemic, we are continuing to liaise with site users and will look to seek a resolution that works for all concerned.”