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Harrowby United make use of grants and lockdown to improve their ground and facilities

Harrowby United have made further improvements to their facilities as the third lockdown postponed their season further.

Over the past 12 months, the Arrows have completed significant work to renovate their indoor and outdoor facilities.

Most recently, the club secured a grant worth over £20,000 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, which allowed them to replace their pitchside fencing that had been in place since the 1980s.

The new pitchside fencing at Harrowby. (43943362)
The new pitchside fencing at Harrowby. (43943362)

The club thanked committee members, sponsors and fans who helped in the wind, rain and snow to get the project completed.

Michael Atter, chairman of Harrowby United, said: “Our old fencing had been in since the 1980s, it had served its purpose. Now we’ve got this, the whole ground looks completely different.”

When asked if it is frustrating to have made the improvements but still be unable to welcome fans back, Michael said: “It is frustrating, but flipping the coin over, it’s an ideal time to do stuff. Some of this stuff mid-season, you just can’t do because you’re constantly playing football.

From left: Mark Fardell Shaun Olivant Michael Atter and Julie Atter (36456221)
From left: Mark Fardell Shaun Olivant Michael Atter and Julie Atter (36456221)

“The pitch side fencing, that only takes seven or eight days to install, but you’d normally have to make sure you didn’t have any home games.

“With us not playing games, it’s given us a good window to get that put in. Because we are doing a lot of it ourselves, it gives you time to get it done.”

Harrowby have also received two separate grants from the Football Foundation, which allowed them to secure mobile floodlights back in October and meant their first team and junior sides could train after dark, as well as making improvements to their changing room and toilet facilities.

Michael added: “There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get the grants. They don’t just drop in your lap, you have to do quite a bit of work to get them. Amber Kitching, has primarily done all of the grant funding for us.”

The mobile floodlights in use. (43943350)
The mobile floodlights in use. (43943350)

The Arrows’ facilities have come a long way since the club was broken into this time last year. The thieves stole a till and charity collection boxes and spirits, while a jukebox, lottery machine and various stock in the bar area were also completely destroyed.

Michael continued: “We had a lot of damage to the exterior and interior of the club. It was well overdue a major overhaul. The problem was with a club like that, it’s open seven days a week. We didn’t have the funds to get a company in to get on with it because it would have costed tens of thousands of pounds. We got a little bit of insurance money back but that basically covered the damages from the break-in.

“When shutdown happened in March, we looked at our finances and it started off where we were just going to paint the place and we just went from painting it to completely gutting it, replastering, reupholstering and just doing the lot.”

The impressive renovation of the clubhouse took around six weeks, and would not have been possible without the support of volunteers and local businesses.

Michael said: “We did keep a bit of a tally, between the five or six of us [who volunteered] we did over 1,000 hours just in the bar to get it done, but we were doing nothing else. So we were going up there taking it in turns in twos and threes and just cracking on with it. We got a lot of support from local businesses.

“That took us about six weeks to do, and if we were open, we couldn’t have done it.

“The break-in did prompt [the renovation], no doubt, but the driving thing really was when we were locked down.”

Michael also thanked Harrowby’s sponsors for their support during such a difficult time.

He said: “Obviously, it’s been hard on the sponsors, because they’ve put their hand in the pocket and sponsored the club this season. Today we’ve only played about five home games apart from friendlies. It’s hard on them.

“They’ve been brilliant with us. If we ask anything, if they can, they will help. It’s difficult times for them as well.

“The only issue we have is that we’re not playing. While we’re not playing, we’re not taking money, but we’re not losing money. It doesn’t cost us not to play football.

“As soon as we are given the green light where we can do things properly again, we’ve got so many ideas.

“Our big aim on the pitch is to get into the Premier, but obviously we were sitting nicely in fourth when we got shut down. How the season’s going to be completed, we don’t know, if at all, so we’ll just have to sit and wait for that.”

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