Ground development needed for Locks Heath promotion

Locks Heath football club chairman Dougie Leaske said they planned for thousands of pounds of development work at the Recreation Ground to meet the standards of a higher league now they have won their division.

Locks Heath FC's home ground at the recreation ground

Locks Heath FC’s home ground at the recreation ground

Officials from the FA in London visited the Warsash Road ground last week to inspect the facilities ahead of making a decision on whether Locks Heath can move up to the Sydenhams Wessex League.

They won the Hampshire Premier League with an 8-1 thrashing of Liphook United at their home ground last night (April 23) but now the anxious wait goes on to see if they can move up a division.

If they are promoted they will have to provide a covered area for spectators among other improvements, and they plan to do that on one side of the pitch.

Locks Heath FC crest badgeDougie Leaske said he estimated the work they planned this summer would cost in the region of £30,000 for the covered spectator area, new dug-outs and other work.

“This is really all in the hands of the Football Association,” he said. “They came down and saw what we have got and they will now make their decision in a week or two.

“Normally the standards would be in place for the new league, but we can’t spend that money until we know we are going to go up so we are waiting and seeing what they say.

“We have got a development plan and we have been talking to the council about it – we just need to hear what the FA decide.”

Read more on how Locks Heath won the Hampshire Premier League.


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12 Responses to Ground development needed for Locks Heath promotion

  1. JoeM

    April 24, 2013 at 7:36 am

    History repeating itself? Locks got to a similar situation several years back and found that they couldn’t do anything to what, after all is a public recreation ground. Disappointment all round. I wonder what’s changed?

  2. Casper

    April 25, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Lets hope the improvements do not stop the general public using it like the fencing the club have already erected. Also what about the parking, the football players park all over the place, causing problems for every one else.

    • Dougie Leask

      April 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      The football players park in the car park provided, although space is limited when local residents also use it for their private parking spaces. However in the 7 years I’ve been at the club we’ve only ever had 2 complaints of parking in the farthings. One of those turned out to be the friends of a local resident who was visiting. So 1 incident in 7 years hardly warrants a comment such as yours.

      At no time in the 80 years the club has played football on the rec has it ever prevented anyone else from using the recreation ground.

      As for the fencing, that has been put up for the protection of the rec and people using it following several incidents when some idiots have been driving onto the rec and tearing around on the grass. No need to thank us for paying for the rec’s protection though, we did it out of loyalty and duty to the community, something you’re obviously very concerned about.

  3. JoeM

    April 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Despite claims to the contrary, LHFC has indeed made several attempts to prevent others from using the ground. It is a matter of record that the latest was in 2005/6 when an attempt was made to enclose the ground as required by … the Wessex League…

    I wasn’t aware that the Football Club were entirely responsible for paying for the fencing, this would normally be the remit of Fareham Council who actually own the Rec.

    Unless it’s also part of a re-worded “enclosure” scheme as well?

    • Dougie Leask

      April 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

      The Sports & Social Club paid for the fencing as the Lease holders of the ground. A combination of the Cricket Club, Football Club and Sports & Social Club also spend money on the grounds to help maintain them, with volunteers spending their own time tending to the cricket square and football pitch.

      The local community get the benefit of this hard work and efforts and enclosing the ground would not satisfy Wessex as you seem to think. Enclosing the football pitch would and if a way could be found to do so during matches, it would still leave a large area of the rec open and available to anyone who wishes to use it.

      Perhaps the next time you’re down there using the rec when we have a match or are doing some work on the ground you can introduce yourself to me. I would be happy to share our thoughts and plans for the Rec and what we are trying to do for the community.

  4. JoeM

    April 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Ahh. That clears that up then. The fence is a good idea, but wasn’t solely the Football Club’s idea or responsibility. Nice of them to contribute though, amongst others. Thanks.

    Enclosing any part of the Rec remains a no-no I’m afraid, in my eyes, even for a short time.

    The Recreation Ground is used and enjoyed by many people, not only the football club. Any enclosure threatens other peoples enjoyment of what is a public open space.

    Lots of people like it just the way it is, open and undeveloped. Nothing wrong in that surely? Not everyone sees extra infrastructure as an “improvement”, and indeed some might well see it as damaging.

    As it is, everyone gets to use the Recreation Ground, football club included.

    It seems to me this is driven by the Football Clubs understandable wish to play at a higher level. For 80 years they’ve played up to a certain standard at the Rec, and can continue to do so of course. Moving above that level probably isn’t possible at the Rec. Time to move on?

    We’ve been here before, of course. Nothing much seems to have changed.

    • Dougie Leask

      April 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      It’s getting the right balance Joe. The fence doesn’t stop anyone coming onto the rec but merely guides them to using the designated access points and protects the rec and users of it. Some people complain of noise coming from the pitch, so having a screen around it during games would help reduce the noise and allow those who aren’t interested in football to continue their enjoyment of the rec.

      If we were to have an open shelter for spectators to stand under during games, it could also be used by the public if caught out in a rain shower at other times. So extra infrastructure can be considered an improvement of facility for everyone and shared by all.

      You may or not be aware, but the football club have been going out of their way to be supportive of the community. Last year we hosted a charity day with Locks Heath Free Church to raise funds for local charities. We recently hosted a day with the charity Ickle Pickles and raised over £5k for the Neo Natal Unit at QA Hopital. In August we are hosting an Access all Areas day with FBC to provide local kids with activities and help them to integrate with the community. Our own managers and coaches are giving up their own time to do some football coaching and the Cricket Club managers are doing likewise for Cricket. So our focus may well be on developing football, but not at the expense of the community and their enjoyment of the rec.

  5. Frank

    April 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    As a local resident in the area I use the Rec and am sick of seeing the number of mindless idiots who let their dogs walk around freely leaving their mess wherever they like. If this is what you call a community area, then they clearly don’t have a community spirit.

    I also enjoy watching the football and cricket at the rec and think both the football and cricket teams do a great job in putting our community on the map. But I also know that they have to walk the site before every football or cricket match and clear up the mess left behind by these people who have no care for anyone else.

    Well done to the football club in winning their league. I for one support you in what you are doing for the community. I hope you achieve what you deserve for all of the hard work and efforts put in by everyone at the club for the enjoyment of others.

  6. JoeM

    April 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I think it’s great that the Football Club is doing something for local charities, and this is to be applauded.

    You’re right, it is about balance though, and in the case of the Rec, that balance has probably been reached already.

    None of this very laudable charity work requires any extra infrastructure,but linking the two is a bit disingenuous isn’t it?

    Surely the club would want to support the local community anyway, regardless of whatever ambitions it has to “develop’?

    • Dougie Leask

      April 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Joe, I take offence to your derogatory comment that the football club hides behind its community activities in order to use it to develop the facilities. My comments were merely to demonstrate that despite having ambitions to develop, we do not forget the local community and support it in many ways.

      Support is a 2 way thing though Joe. Too many people are happy to slate the football and condemn what is being done without appreciating the good it does. If we didn’t provide sport for the local people, what else would they have to do but stand on street corners finding ways to entertain themselves, some of which could be at the expense of others peace and quiet.

      Clearly you are not a sportsman or you would appreciate the benefits that sports can bring to the community, help to develop individuals and create a team spirit and comraderie that is so often left wanting in many walks of society today. But it also creates dreams and desires to achieve and if that brings success then all the better for it.

      • JoeM

        April 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        Mr. Leask,

        If you are offended that is your right. I have written nothing derogatory, but merely posed a question. Your reaction is enlightening.

        And yet curiously I do agree with you on one point.

        Sport For All is A Good Thing.

        Not everyone agrees that football is the best or only outlet. The 2012 Olympics very clearly demonstrated to everyone that there are a whole range of other sports that deserve equal, and arguably greater, support.

        I could be “offended” that you state “clearly, you’re not a sportsman”. Actually I am, or was. Just not a footballer. There are other sports.

        The fact remains that no “improvements” are actually necessary at Locks Heath Recreation ground for football to successfully continue as it has for the 80 years, as you point out, keeping young people “from standing on street corners”.

        • Dougie Leask

          April 26, 2013 at 11:59 pm

          Joe, my reaction is determined by my desire to take the football club forward and achieve its potential, but taking into consideration the needs of other users. My frustration stems from the minority of people who would rather see no sport being played on the rec and will do all they can to stop the football club from developing and providing a facility for others in the community to enjoy.

          I agree there are other sports and everyone has a right to partake in whatever sport they wish. However when doing so it is important that they have the encouragement, support and facility that will enable them to achieve their ambitions and potential. So why should the football club be treated any different to that???

          What you are saying is that we can be allowed to kick a ball around on the rec just as long as we don’t want to achieve anything! So what about the development of players and encouraging them to have dreams and ambitions???

          I took over the club 7 years ago after the club won promotion and were denied it because the facility was not up to the required standard for the next level of football. The result was that more than 40 local young players walked away and had to find new clubs further afield because they could not achieve their ambitions on their own doorstep.

          Not everyone wants to settle for second best and just because you may not want to see the football club do well and develop, does that give you the right to put down those who are part of it and do want to succeed?

          I accept that on the location we are at there is only so much we can do without impacting on other users of the rec. But according to the ground grading regulations that we have to comply with, the club can achieve the next level with some improvements that would not affect other users.

          We’ve got to work with what we have and until someone comes up with a new location where the club can grow and develop to the standards being set by other local clubs such as Fareham, Portchester and Gosport Borough it is clear that we will always disagree on what is achievable at the rec.