Pitch shock for new football team

The pitch at Walsden Rec, Scott Street
The pitch at Walsden Rec, Scott Street

Calderdale Council has dropped a bombshell by telling Walsden CC’s new football team that it may not be able to play on the pitch near its Scott Street base this winter.

A dearth of pitches in the Calder Valley means the Saturday side faces competition from junior teams for use of Walsden Rec.

The club has also been told that the changing facilities next to the pitch may not be fit for use.

That would not normally be a problem, but the cricket club’s changing rooms will be out of bounds for some time from mid-September due to major redevelopment work.

Kenny Gale, secretary of the Rochdale Alliance newcomers, described the situation as “a mess.”

But he said the club was committed to playing somewhere this season after forking out almost £1,000 for kit, insurance, league fees and affiliation fees.

Officials of the cricket club decided in the spring that they wanted to form a football team.

They felt that the loss of Jack’s House FC, which folded last season, had left a gap in the area at that level of football on a Saturday with only West Lancashire League side Todmorden Borough remaining.

Walsden, who were also keen to make more use of their Scott Street bar facilities during the winter, contacted Calderdale Council in March about their plans.

Gale said an application form for a pitch, due to be sent out in June, had only arrived two or three weeks ago.

Walsden had returned theirs but a phone call to the council last week had set alarm bells ringing. It was then that Gale found out that the pitch and changing rooms might not be available.

“They have said that they will look at the lettings this week, see what everyone has asked for and then make a decision,” said Gale

“It would be a pain if they suddenly said it was not available and the changing rooms couldn’t be used.”

Gale said the cricket club had tradesmen within their ranks who were willing to make the changing rooms fit for use but that offer had been declined because approved council contractors had to do the work.

A check to ensure there was no danger of Legionnaire’s disease at the site might also have to be carried out.

Gale said the work at Walsden CC had to take place at the end of the cricket season because the club had obtained a grant, which had to be spent within a certain time frame.

Walsden were due to find out last night whether their opening fixture would be on August 31 or September 7.

The side, managed by Paul Marrow with assistance from James Rawlinson and Chris Dewhirst, also had a friendly away to Hebden Royd Red Star.

“It is not an option to put back playing for a season,” said Gale. “We have put a lot of time and money into it and all the lads are keen.”