Letters August 2018

August 03 2018

Football club is community asset

MY wife and I attended the presentation at the Greenbank Road sports pavilion (Hanham and Longwell Green Voice, May). The purpose of the meeting was to inform the local residents of a number of proposals regarding the playing field and facilities. I am not nor ever have been a member of AEK Boco.

There appears to be a small group of people who are trying to advance their own interests by using anger and aggression. They do not appear to be willing to listen to the wishes or preferences of other people.

There also seems to be a willingness to blame the football club for everything that happens. Whether that be the condition of the ground or general behaviour in the area.

I have lived in my house backing on to Greenbank playing field since 1991. In that time I have seen it transformed from a muddy field prone to flooding into an often used green space. It has moved from a dogs’ lavatory into a place that my children and their friends have spent many happy times. It is now a genuine asset to the area for the residents to enjoy as well as the sport that is provided by the football club. Many young people can be seen walking to and from the sports field in their kit as it is their local club and recreational area.

My wife and I both felt unable to participate in any discussion at the pavilion.The meeting was well attended but from the outset we were made aware that there was a small group of people who had their own agenda.

At the outset this group loudly demanded to know who was representing their interests. They expressed their disappointed that there was not a member of the council in attendance to represent their particular interests. One of their number opened his preamble by mentioning that he had already raised his complaints about the football club at the parish council meeting the previous week. When told that this was not a decision making process but rather a presentation to educate and inform residents prior to decisions being made, they were quick to anger and the mood of the meeting became quite ugly.

The presentation by a young man from Abacus was constantly interrupted and the presenter was accused of having premeditated plans. He could hardly explain the implication of various scenarios without tabling the options. 

As I was leaving the meeting early as the atmosphere had become unbearable, I had a conversation with a resident from the north boundary of the playing field. He was complaining that the field was muddy and that was because of over-use by AEK Boco. I had to tell him that I had walked from Kingswood via the top fields and then onto Greenbank the previous day. The top field was muddy up to my ankles whereas Greenbank merely squelched. The top field is fallow and is in far worse condition than Greenbank. The resident mistakenly feels that AEK Boco have spoilt the field when in fact Greenbank is in a better condition than the council land that drains into it.

All the gardens at the south edge of Greenbank have benefited from the drainage that AEK Boco have installed in the field.

AEK Boco is a local asset that is more than a football club. At a time of council cutbacks Boco are providing a public open space that combines with a good quality sports facility. They are also involved in local charity work.

At a time when we are trying to improve the health and fitness of our children Boco provides qualified coaching and good equipment. During my time at Samuel White's and Hanham Abbots, Boco, the club ran after-school football sessions at no cost to the schools.

I find it difficult to think of what more the football club could do for this community.

Thomas McDermott

Hanham resident