St Albans City fans support ground improvement campaign

A CAMPAIGN to improve the home of St Albans City Football Club at Clarence Park is gathering pace, with supporters and officials backing the bid.

With large chunks of the Saints’ facilities dating back to before the Second World War, the club has made no secret of hopes to have its facilities overhauled.

The football club leases the ground from St Albans district council, with that agreement up for renewal in a couple of years’ time.

Saints fan of six years Tom Norman, of Wheathampstead, said: “Obviously if we want to make the club more sustainable, we need more income. It would be good for both the community and the club.

“We want it to be more self-sufficient. We need the backing of the council to progress.”

He and other fans said that although home games easily attracted several hundred spectators, improved facilities would draw even more people to the facility.

While there is no complaint about the pitch, the consensus is that the timber stand, dating back to 1922, the exposed concrete stand, built in 1963, and clubhouse, installed in 1930, all need upgrading.

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Pat Strods, a member of the St Albans Chamber of Commerce and club supporter, paid tribute to diehard fans who watched matches on exposed stands including behind the goals, “in all weather”.

She said: “It would be nice to give the supporters a better experience.”

Pat said improvements would enable the club to host a range of social events and bring in more income.

Sports therapist at the club, Sam Backhouse, said she appreciated the efforts of several players, including the first team’s James Gray, for giving the medical room a facelift.

She added: “Two of our players used their own time doing up the medical room. They painted it and put in some units, and spruced up what was pretty grim surroundings.

“It would be nice to have a rehab gym. A lot of other clubs have physio rooms on their grounds used by members of the public, to bring in extra income during the week.”

Club chairman Ian Ridley said the main issue for the Saints was that they needed to generate greater income than that derived from hosting 25 home games a year, selling raffle tickets and refreshments.

He added: “We love Clarence Park. It is a city centre ground; people can walk there, the station is nearby, and we want to stay there, but for spectator comfort, it is not ideal.”

St Albans district council’s executive leader, Cllr Julian Daly, and portfolio holder for sports, Cllr Mike Wakely, said they supported the club and were looking forward to discussions with Saints officials about improvement plans.