Harpenden Town Football Club to get a makeover

THE VANDAL-hit base of a Harpenden football club is to undergo a massive transformation if a determined group of volunteers has its way.

Iain Sinnott, the new vice-chairman of Harpenden Town Football Club, is taking on the mammoth task of redeveloping the club, described as having possibly the worst facilities in the league due to lack of investment and constant vandalism over the past 20 years.

Vandals have smashed the clubhouse’s glass panes so many times that the club has been forced to brick up the majority of windows, leaving the base dark and cave-like.

A shocked former town councillor, Tony McFarland, was recently quoted in the Herts Advertiser describing the facilities as “like an inner-city slum”.

However, Iain said that he and five fellow volunteers, also keen to turn around the club’s fortunes in its 120th anniversary year, were considering a range of measures to revamp the club.

One option was to raise about �30,000 to renovate the clubhouse and ground facilities.

He explained that the Molten Spartan South Midlands Football League has specific ground grading regulations which Harpenden Town FC, “certainly fails to meet.”

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Iain went on: “We have been granted a reprieve but we stand to be either relegated or suspended at the end of next season, so our aim is to raise the funds and have the work done by March next year, which is a pretty tough challenge.”

St Albans district and Harpenden town councils have already given the thumbs up to initial redesign plans. Iain said both councils had been very supportive of the club’s redevelopment scheme.

Iain has issued a plea to local plumbers, builders and electricians to offer their services for the revamp and return the club to its former glory.

Harpenden Town FC was formed initially as Harpenden FC in September 1891.

The ‘Town’ was added 100 years ago in the 1908-09 season. It climbed into the South Midlands League in 1957, winning the Premier Division Title in 1962 and 1965, and in 1968 added both the Herts Charity Shield and the South Midlands League Shield to its trophy haul.

The club obtained entry to the FA Cup for the first time in 1998 and has been a regular contender in the FA Vase.

Iain said: “We need to do a DIY SOS and get as many sparkies, builders and plumbers contributing to make it as affordable as possible. We are also looking for local businesses to support us through website and pitchside advertising.”

He added: “The longer term goal is that if Harpenden Colts, Harpenden Rovers and Harpenden Town are all acting as one body, we can approach the major sporting funding bodies and get help for a really good facility on the Harpenden Town site.

“The council would be more than happy for us to obtain funding to put an astro pitch next to the existing pitch. That facility would then be available for Colts to train on during the week and for games on Sunday.”

Iain went on: “The first job we have to do is build the dugout and any help we can get from a qualified builder with that would be appreciated. We also badly need someone to spike the pitch as we don’t have a spiking machine.”

The club also wants to encourage more footfall in the area, as more visitors to the facility, located at a tucked-away part of Rothamsted Park beyond tennis and swimming venues, off Amenbury Lane, should in theory deter further vandalism.

Better facilities should help attract bigger crowds, with Harpenden Town also hoping to encourage youth, disabled and senior groups to visit the area once revamped.

While it is on course to turn around its fortunes, the club is also focusing on helping those less fortunate.

It hopes to stage a three-way charity tournament between the three senior schools in Harpenden this October, to help pay for the freighting of more than 70 pairs of football boots, 50 shirts, shorts and other kit for its Harpenden Town Kit for Kenya appeal.

The club has also put out a call to local people wishing to become part of the “new” Harpenden Town story to register an interest. Training is every Tuesday and Thursday night at 6.45pm and Saturdays at 1pm.

Iain said: “Of course players are not all we need at Harpenden Town FC. We are still building up our back room staff to take on the challenge of redeveloping the facilities. We have six new volunteers but a few more would be very helpful. So if you are looking for a new hobby and have a love of football, why not get in touch?”

If you are able to offer assistance to the club, please email details to : htfc@smeco.co.uk

Iain added: “This is going to be a memorable year for the club.”