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Newcastle’s Oldest Football Club Given Cash Boost

Wed 16th Apr 2014 | Money & Finance

A 120-year-old amateur football club in Gosforth has received a much-needed cash boost to help secure its future for the next generation.

Gosforth Bohemians FC, based at Benson Park in the Brunton Park estate, is Newcastle’s oldest amateur football club. However, its position as a community club came under threat in 2012, after the infamous and devastating ‘Thunder Thursday’ floods submerged half of the Benson Park grass pitch in over a foot of water.

Damage to the 60 year old playing surface caused weeks of disruption for the club’s four adult men’s teams. Despite games eventually resuming, the drains were fractured and pitch had further decayed – becoming almost unplayable.

Now, thanks to a £67,317 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, £20,000 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) and almost £11,000 raised through player donations, sponsors and community fundraising events, work can finally begin at Benson Park. The barriers, car park and drainage system will be replaced in time for the 2014/15 season, allowing Gosforth Bohemians to continue to play at its home for years to come.

Andy Parkinson, Club Secretary at Gosforth Bohemians, said: “The flood damage caused by ‘Thunder Thursday’ was a significant shock for everyone involved at the club. We operate on an amateur level and rely heavily on player subs, local sponsors and community fundraising to maintain our position. To suddenly find ourselves with no pitch to play on could have been truly devastating to the club’s long-term future.

“The club has a proud history, and working with players, sponsors, the local community, the Football Foundation and the Northumberland FA, we have been able to secure viable investment and create a sustainable legacy for the club.

“To achieve all of this within our landmark 120th anniversary year is a testimony to everyone involved and will allow the Bohs to remain at its spiritual home.”

Patrick William Powlett, Chairman at Gosforth Bohemians for 20 years, said: “This is a great moment for the club. This ground is an integral part of the club’s history and has seen so many great games down the years.

“Andy and the rest of the club have done a superb job in finding far more than a solution to the problems with this pitch. Not only does this enable us to remain at Benson Park, it also allows us to expand the reach of the club into the community with significantly improved facilities. I can’t wait until September to see a Bohs team run out on a new pitch at Benson Park.”

Funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England, the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 12,025 grants worth more than £490m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £651m – over £1bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation funding partners’ investment has provided 83 grants worth £10.5m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £21m across the whole of Northumberland.

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, funded with £6m each year from the Premier League. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a £67,317 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund will enable Gosforth Bohemians to make these much-needed pitch improvements. In partnership with the Northumberland FA, the club have worked extremely hard to secure this funding. And in celebration of their 120th year as a club, it couldn’t have come at a better time!

“Since 2000 our funding partners, the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England, have generously provided the investment to improve facilities throughout the country, just like this one in Gosforth.”

A number of events and initiatives are already being planned to celebrate the new facilities and to mark Gosforth Bohemian FC’s 120 year anniversary.

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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