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FOOTBALL: Facilities improved at Spalding United's Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field ground

Teams and match officials at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field can look forward to much-improved changing facilities from next season.

Spalding United have had to have the work carried out to meet FA ground requirements. Within the same footprint, the formerly cramped changing rooms have been enlarged and the match officials’ facilities have been moved.

After limping through to the end of last season on no money, perhaps the last news the Tulips needed was the need to upgrade facilities. With no financial support available from ground custodian South Holland District Council for the work, Tulips chairman Andy Gay has been contemplating the knock-on effect.

Andy Gay (13270769)
Andy Gay (13270769)

“It’s going to be a difficult start to the season,” he said. “No disrespect but some other clubs have businessmen and financial people supporting the club. At Spalding United you’ve got normal working people trying to support the club.

“We’re still the largest family football club in the area. You need a lot of people to do a little bit. It’s the love of football I do it for.”

Gay is a tough cookie who has been at the club through the downs and not so many ups for many seasons. A truck driver by profession, he has foregone wages this summer to be at the ground full-time overseeing and assisting the alterations work, some of which has been carried out by the club’s trusty volunteers.

In other developments off the field, a new commercial manager has been appointed. Mark Howarth is tasked with sourcing sponsorship and finding new revenue streams, and will work on a commission basis.

And the club’s social media has a fresh approach under the operation of university graduate Ryan Plant.

The chairman is one of only three people on the board – the others being Eddie Reeve and Phil Brennan. Gay would like to see more people stepping forward to be board members but accepts that the financial risks associated with being a director can be off-putting.

Finances continue to be tight but everyone is working hard within the constraints.

“We’ve got a good sponsor in VegTrug but when you’ve got players expecting the wages they do at this level, that sort of money takes a lot of finding each week. The manager’s been given his budget and he’s happy with it. I think he’s retained ten players from last season and brought in a couple of new faces so he’s done very well.

“And the pitch is looking fantastic – Mick O’Connor and his team at the council have done a great job.”

Sponsorship of a player for the coming season is £50. Among those available are Kegan Everington, Neal Spafford, Taron Hare, Lewis Brownhill, George Zuerner, Ben Greenwood, Alex Smith, Josh Spencer, Scott Floyd, Jenk Acar, Daniel Mason, Archie Moyses and Charlie Hart.

The Tulips, whose Evo-Stik League campaign starts on August 17, have pre-season matches at Harrowby United (Tuesday, July 30) and home to Corby Town (Tuesday, August 6) confirmed as well as the Lincolnshire FA Senior Cup quarter-final at Cleethorpes Town on Saturday, August 3.

* Tickets for a Sportman’s Night with former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton at Surfleet Village Hall on Thursday, October 3 are on sale at £60. Call 07917 532796 or email treasurer@spalding.net

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