Amy Tinkler, a Team GB gymnast and bronze medallist from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland and Cllr Ann Golightly, Mayor of Bishop Auckland, will open Bishop Auckland FC’s new football pitch upgrade, ahead of their Ebac Northern League fixture vs. Seaham Red Star FC at 2.30pm on Saturday 25 February.
The upgrade at Heritage Park has seen a new drainage system installed, which will prevent the pitch from becoming waterlogged, an issue that forced the club to cancel a number of fixtures in previous years. As a result of this extended use, Middlesbrough FC have used the pitch for FA Youth Cup fixtures and so too will local grassroots side, Bishop Auckland St Mary’s JFC.
The works will aid the North East club’s ambitions to climb the National League System, where they currently play Step Five football in Division One of the Ebac Northern League. ‘The Bishops’ have enjoyed great success throughout their 131-year-long history, winning The FA Amateur Cup ten times and this season, for the first time in 17 years, reaching the fourth qualifying round of The FA Cup.
The project was made possible thanks to a £52,000 grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country, and also a generous bequest from the club’s late fan Colin Rowell – who died in January 2015 aged 79 years-old.
Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Source: Football Foundation
Image: Reuters Media