Football club sets out ambitious goal
'Let's build facilities the whole community can be proud of'
Our club house is an embarrassment, says Hanham Athletic's chairman Bob Sperring
THE BOSS of a football club in Hanham says he is desperate to revamp facilities, branding their club house an embarrassment.
Hanham Athletic, one of the oldest clubs in Bristol, run three teams at their home ground at Vicarage Road.
But chairman Bob Sperring says the decaying club building leaves a lot to be desired, with outdated electrics, single-glazed windows, grubby shower facilities and no disabled access.
Bob said: “I'm Hanham Athletic through and through but this is an embarrassment. We must have the worst facilities in the Marcliff league.
“The place is looking really tired and shabby. We have a separate shower for referees but they are as bad as the ones for the players. We even got fined last week for having cold showers.
“We've got no disabled access which just isn't right in this day and age. We don't have adequate storage either so have to store things in containers or behind the club. Our windows date back to 1968.
“The building is tired and is an eyesore for people who live nearby. We want facilities which are fit for purpose.”
The club, which was established in 1896 as Hanham Football Club, has two storeys with showers and changing rooms on the ground floor and a veranda, kitchen and bar area on the first floor.
The one thing the club does have going for it is its pitch, set in picturesque surroundings flanked by mature trees.
A new eight-member committee took over three years ago and have been ploughing in money from the club's own funds to keep the building from falling into an even worse state of disrepair.
They estimate about £25,000 has been spent on essential works such as boiler repairs, with £4,000 spent on the pitch in the last eight months. They say it is unsustainable to continue like this.
Bob said the committee at the club has been trying to negotiate a business plan with South Gloucestershire Council which, once agreed, would mean the club would have the security of a 20-year lease, rather than its current rolling year on year lease.
Crucially, it would mean the club could then apply for grants and funding to improve facilities.
Bob said: “Ideally we'd like to knock it down and build a bigger single storey building with a terrace and bi-fold doors. We could then have separate male and female showers and disabled access.
“We would be able to open it out to the community for meetings, keep fit, slimming classes and nurseries. It would always be a football club first and foremost but we have to do something, we can't stay as we are.
“I can't see it would be a problem with our neighbours as the building would be newer and lower.”
The club says the amount of cash given to clubs like AEK Boco seems disproportionate but insists it does not have such ambitious plans as its Marcliff Gloucestershire County League rivals, who were recently granted planning permission for spectator stands, perimeter fence and floodlights, which it needs to get promoted to the next division.
Bob said: “We would like to develop a youth set-up and ladies team but we don't want floodlights. We're happy where we are in the Marcliff league. We just want facilities that we can be proud of.”
A spokesman for South Gloucestershire Council said: “We are working with HAFC to make sure that they have a solid business plan so that they can be secure at the Vicarage Road site. We share their aim of being a positive part of the community and will look with interest at their plans to improve the facilities there when they bring them forward.”