Rovers ready for ground opening

IT’S ALL systems go for the official opening of Haverhill Rovers’ new ground on Saturday.

The keys were handed over to Haverhill Community Sports Association on Monday and the New Croft was used for the first time on Tuesday night when Haverhill hosted Needham Market in their final pre-season friendly before the Ridgeons League season kicks off on Saturday.

Work started on the facility off Chalkstone Way last September and it has been built at a cost of �2.3 million and funded by �1.4m from St Edmundsbury Borough Council and �550,000 from the Football Foundation and Football Stadia Improvement Fund plus other grants.

Steve Brown, the Haverhill chairman, said yesterday: “We had a good turn out last night against Needham and are expecting another one on Saturday for the official opening.”

Around 100 invited guests will attend Saturday’s opening prior to the Premier Division match against Walsham-le-Willows, who were Haverhill’s opponents for the final game at Hamlet Croft on the last day of last season.

Brown explained: “It is no coincidence that we are playing Walsham as I asked the league if we could have Walsham as our first opponents and they were able to programme the fixture in accordingly.

“We get on very well with Walsham and their chairman Mike Powles, but we have not beaten them in the Premier Division, so perhaps it was not such a good idea!”

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Rumours have abounded in recent weeks that the reason Haverhill had not played any matches at the New Croft, including cancelling a scheduled friendly against an Ipswich Town XI, was because the pitch did not meet the minimum size required.

Brown responded: “The pitch is 66 metres wide by 101 metres long, which is bigger than the 64 metres by 100 metres minimum, and we have got more width available if we wish to use it. Anyone who wishes to measure it themselves is welcome to do so!

“The reason the ground was not handed over until Monday was that due to the hot weather we have had this summer the pitch was not ready to play on, and so it was not signed off as ready for use until Sunday.”

Brown and Haverhill Rovers are looking forward to a rosy future for the football club after moving from Hamlet Croft where they had played since 1913.

“It is a great achievement for Terry McGerty, our president, who has put in so much hard work on the new ground over the last 15 years, and at times must have thought that it was never going to happen.

“It is a fantastic facility and is going to be great not just for us but the whole set-up, which covers 22 teams from eight years upwards.

“We are not a rich club and our plan now is that we have a good crop of youth players coming through who we want to see make it into the first team, rather than go and join another club.”

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