Football clubs disappointed as Redbridge Council stops them playing on Barkingside Recreation Ground
PUBLISHED: 14:08 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:14 16 April 2019
Two of the borough's football clubs say Redbridge Council is encouraging them to play on "dreadful", "bumpy" pitches after ending funding for their favoured Barkingside grounds.
St Augustines FC have been playing on Barkingside Recreation Ground, in Mossford Green, since 1977 while Hainault Athletic FC have called the grounds their home for more than 12 years.
But from next season the clubs will have to find new homes as the council closes the pitch to those playing the beautiful game amid “funding pressures”.
Hainault Recreation Ground, in Forest Road, is being offered as an alternative.
“We won't be playing on Hainault Rec – not on my watch,” said Damian Clark, Hainault Athletics' chairman
“The pitches are dreadful and bumpy,” the 43-year-old added.
He said there are a number of elderly gentlemen who watch his team play at weekends and do not drive who will effectively be isolated as a resulty of the change.
“It's got nothing to do with funding because it's a patch of grass at the end of the day,” he said.
“All they have got to do is put out the goals, make sure the pitch is cut and supply water once a week for the team that is playing there.
“Most of my team go home to take showers.
“The amount of water we use is not going to break the bank.”
Thomas Neil, St Augustines FC chairman, echoed Mr Clark's comment on the quality of the pitches.
“To be honest with you I don't want them to be our home pitches,” he said.
“I know we're not a Premier League football team, but they are not the best pitches in terms of quality.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Due to funding pressures Vision has had no option but to combine football pitches at Hainault Recreation Ground.
“We've done all we can to support the club including allowing them to use Barkingside Recreation Ground for a further year beyond what was initially agreed.
“We want to assure residents that there are sufficient pitches available and better changing facilities at Hainault Recreation Ground, as well as parking for players and spectators which is just one mile from the current venue.”