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Wallsend Boys’ Club officially opens its first football facility

Wed 29th Jun 2011 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Wallsend Boys’ Club officially celebrated the opening of its stunning new sports site and marked the occasion with a friendly match between some of the Club’s ex-players and its current managers, followed by a tour of the site and refreshments. 

A conveyor belt of talent in the North East, Wallsend Boys has produced more than 65 professional footballers, including Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Michael Carrick, Steve Bruce, Steven Taylor, Lee Clark, Robbie Elliott and Steve Watson. It has nurtured that extraordinary array of alumni in spite of never having had a home to call its own: until now. 

The Club has historically had a nomadic existence, with many of its boys and girls teams having to play at numerous locations in Wallsend and other surrounding boroughs on local authority pitches. Now the Club and local schools will benefit from the new development. 

Wallsend Boys’ new site has had significant levelling and drainage work to provide it with two senior size grass pitches, five junior size grass pitches and one mini-soccer size grass pitch. It also boasts a brand new changing pavilion comprising: six team changing rooms; two match officials changing rooms; one accessible changing room; male, female and disabled spectator toilets; as well as externally-accessed equipment and plant rooms. 

The facility was made possible thanks to a grant of £850,000 from the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity that is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government (via Sport England). An additional grant of £150,000 came from The FA, as part of their capital allocation within the Whole Sport Plan funding agreement with Sport England. North Tyneside Council contributed a further £301,000 and club itself raised £114,000 towards the scheme. 

Peter Kirkley, President of Wallsend Boys’ Club, said: “The acquisition of our new facilities can now broaden our horizons: while still producing top flight players we can also do more work with the street kids, girls, ladies and our ability team. Who knows what the future might bring us after what has been achieved since 1938?”

Steve Dale, Chairman at Wallsend Boys’ Club, said: “This is a truly historic day for Wallsend Boys’ Club and the Club is immensely grateful to the numerous organisations and individuals who have helped make this dream a reality. The financial support from the Football Foundation and The FA has been crucial and recognises the value of the Club’s efforts in the past, particularly in helping produce so many talented footballers.

“North Tyneside Council has also emphatically supported the Club financially, especially in granting an 80-year lease on our 20-acre site at Bigges Main. We hope both organisations will feel they get full value for money from their respective investments in the future, as the Club continues to produce talented footballers, whilst also providing positive, healthy activities for the thousands of Tyneside youngsters who use our facilities every year.”

Dave McDermott, Director of Investment at the Football Foundation, said: “On behalf of everyone at the Football Foundation, I would like to commend the many volunteers at Wallsend Boys’ Club who have worked so tirelessly to make this fantastic new facility become a reality, and, indeed, everyone that gives up their time to help run the club.

“Praise must also go to the Northumberland FA for helping to deliver this project. Since the Foundation was set up in 2000 it has worked closely with the Northumberland FA to support 132 grass roots sports projects across the county with grants worth £11.3m. These grants have attracted further partnership funding of £11.9m into the area’s grass roots.

“Wallsend Boys’ epitomises the ethos of what the Foundation and its funding partners are trying to support: creating opportunities for boys and girls of all ages and abilities to enjoy playing our national game purely for the love of it.

“However, it also powerfully demonstrates how nurturing the game’s grass roots can deliver something truly special for football in this country. I look forward to seeing the club go from strength to strength now that it has this excellent platform on which to build.”

Wallsend Boys’ Club stalwart, Mick Tait, who made over 750 professional appearances as a player for eight different clubs (including Portsmouth and Hartlepool), scoring almost 100 goals on his travels, then went on to manage several clubs (including Darlington, Hartlepool and Blyth Spartans) had this to say: 

“The opening of the new facilities is a fantastic leap forward in the development of Wallsend Boys’ Club. This is something everyone associated with the club has dreamt of for many years. The work behind the scenes to get the Club to this level has been extraordinary. Hopefully the ‘Wallsend Boys’ Club production line’ can continue to give the professional clubs the standard of player they require and make those who don't quite get there into the people we all want them to be.”

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