Former England U21 manager Peter Taylor has been back at Canvey Island opening the Ryman Premier club’s brand new £300,000 clubhouse.
The Gulls called on one of their most famous former sons to perform the official ribbon cutting ceremony at The Frost Financial Stadium last week in front of fans and a host of current and former players and managers.
Thanks to a £147,386 grant from the Premier League funded and Football Foundation administered Football Stadia Improvement Fund and £150,000 from Veolia North Thames Trust, the Gulls have replaced a prefab building dating back to 1947 with a facility featuring a plush new bar and lounge area as well as extending their changing rooms and adding new turnstiles.
The grant builds on previous FSIF investment in 2001 when the Gulls were awarded £33,000 to make structural improvements to their Park Lane home which has been prone to flooding. Delighted officials at last Wednesday’s ceremony say the new facility will accommodate Canvey Island FC and C & K Basildon Ladies as well as Canvey Island Youth FC’s 21 youth sides and the Ryman Premier club’s disability side and MiniKickers set-up.
Now 64, former winger Taylor left Park Lane to sign for Southend as a junior in 1971 before going on to play for Crystal Palace, Spurs and Leyton Orient and a number of other clubs. As a manager, he’s guided a host of clubs in the Football League and Non-League as well as England’s U21s and caretaking England’s seniors.
Taylor, now New Zealand’s assistant manager after managing Bahrain’s national side in 2012, said: “This new facility really is tremendous. It’s a proud moment to return to Park Lane, where it all started for me, and I’m just so glad to open the new clubhouse, which I know means so much to so many people here.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play and manage all over the world, and having had such a wonderful array of experiences through football, it really has made me appreciate just how important lower league infrastructure is. New clubhouses like these ensure people are given the opportunity to enjoy their football in safe and more comfortable surroundings.
“I’d like to thank all those involved in the project. To those from the club, many of whom I know as friends, and who have put a great deal of hard work in getting this facility open. Importantly too, I’d like to thank the Premier League, through the FSIF, who have provided the generous investment here, which will really enable the club to kick on and progress for years to come.”
Canvey Island’s director of developments Rod Hall is looking forward to seeing their new facilities strengthening the connection between the club’s players, staff and fans and their local community.
Hall said: “Our vision of the football club’s community integration, driven by our Chairman John Batch, has really kick-started now, with the completion of our fantastic clubhouse. It’s absolutely great having Peter back here to open the new facility.
“This new football hub has been enabled by grants from the Premier League, through the FSIF, and Veolia, who were both great professional partners throughout the whole project.
“The Council also helped us achieve this dream, particularly so Councillor Ray Howard, while major congratulations must go to our director, Billy Heale, for taking a lead role in the planning and delivery of the clubhouse. Also, a thanks must go to the many contractors who put up with our demands and performed excellently.”
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.