Sunday, January 10, 2016

Grass roots football in Nairn badly served by facilities says manager of Championship side Jackos

Recent circumstances have meant that Forres and Nairn Welfare League champions Jackos have had to seek grounds out with Nairn to fulfil their fixture commitments in the winter league. Today for example they were due to play a home game against a Portsoy side at a Forres ground. Team manager Craig Walker told the Gurn that another local side Uncle Bob’s were in the same position too. 

Craig is despondent about the availability of pitches in Nairn and feels that grass roots football is badly served by the present facilities we have in the town. He cites the lack of working showers or even toilets at the Riverside. Poor changing facilities aside that pitch is presently unplayable due to damage done by vehicles that have driven on the park although Craig tells us that the Council are taking steps to have the ground ready for the summer league games. 

Jackos have the use of the Rec at Auldearn but with the recent bad weather preparing that ground has become impossible he tells us. The community facilities at the Academy are proving difficult to access according to Craig and he is seeking help from local councillors to negotiate his way through the bureaucracy to enable easier access to these community facilities. 

Saints are also unable to help as their ground at the Showfield also gets heavily used as it doubles up as a venue for Nairn County youth sides. 

Jackos proud champions of the Forres and District Welfare League last season
Craig is calling for more pitches to be available in Nairn to enable winter and summer football for local sides at welfare league level and to prevent too much wear and tear on the heavily used riverside pitch when it is playable again. He says it costs in travel and pitch fees to play home games out of town and he feels something needs to be done quickly to ensure a healthy future for grass roots soccer in Nairn. He has contacted local councillors for help and so far Liz MacDonald and Stephen Fuller have agreed to a meeting to see what they can do to help. 

Stephen Fuller told the Gurn: “It's important to encourage activities like this locally. We will be meeting with the Jackos team to discuss the issues surrounding pitches in Nairn and look into what can be done to resolve them.”

Gurn comment:

Here’s hoping a solution can be found, there’s been a lot of talk recently about the pyramid system from the Highland League all the way up to the top but grass roots football is where it all begins and it deserves some attention from the authorities too. Perhaps a couple of pitches on the Sandown Lands might be possible or even reinstating the former pitch on the Links?


Anonymous said...

There are plenty potential sites, the links being the most obvious. At viewfield beyond the tennis courts, that area is already used by kids at the sports centre and finally the pitch at tradespark

@nairnkev said...

1 the links pitch should be reinstated, I actually never knew it was removed.
2 The King George playing field at Riverside should have the old bollards replaced to stop any would-be Colin Macrae rally antics.
3 was there not a pitch up behind Loch Dhu at one point? reinstate that.
4 there are changing rooms at the school and what appears to be an abundance of space to create a pitch on school grounds, our Friendly Nairn Academy is always looking for ways to engage with the community I'm sure they could help in looking for a solution.
5 viewfield pitch??.
6 showfield pitch(es) turn one 90 degrees add a bit more fence to deter any lazy dog litterers and there's plenty of room for two there.
It's apparent our wee county needs more pitches, if there were a least couple more it would take the strain off the riverside, wear and tear gets pretty bad down there.
Some kind of rotation system needs to be put in place so a pitch can be left fallow or time to allow for repairs or regeneration, as much as I love Nairn county the boys training on there probably doesn't help the pitch and one could argue their training aswell but they need somewhere, I could never fathom out why the athletics folk never took over more of the maggot and had a pitch there too there seems to be plenty of space, if it's changing facilities required a portable cabin could suffice, if your tough enough for 90mins of running in rain and muddying grass kicking a ball and being kicked (accidentally of course) you can can get changed in a portable cabin and it is that portable.
Nairn doesn't seem to do long-term, the sports club could of been bigger many moons ago but that idea was poo pooed at design stage now they're looking to expand again!. All that money spent on the all weather pitches and we can't get someone to organise a simple diary function, the town elders should take a good look at themselves whilst enjoying their next cosy meeting when deciding when to have their next cosy meeting about making Nairn better for the average nairnite.

Murd said...

Is it too much for them to tidy up after A game at the river side There are bins provided one just yards from where they leave there rubbish. Some one has to tidy it up after them. So if they cant tidy up after A game the council should charge for a mans time. .

kick about said...

It is obvious that a major part of the problem is maintaining and looking after any pitch - whether from the effects of heavy rain and bad weather or people driving over the ground.

The construction and then the upkeep of a new football ground would be massively expensive. Where would the huge amounts of money required come from in these hard times to establish a new pitch and then to maintain it?

It should however not be necessary to think in those terms. There are facilities already available. A substantial amount of public money and local charitable funds were put into the provision of all-weather sports pitch(es) at the Academy, on the specific basis that these were to be community facilities.

The key quote in the Gurn report is, "The community facilities at the Academy are proving difficult to access according to Craig and he is seeking help from local councillors to negotiate his way through the bureaucracy to enable easier access to these community facilities.". There's the problem, and there also is the solution! There should be NO obstacles which prevent Jacko's, and other local groups, from using sports premises that are supposed to be for the benefit of precisely such local groups. The Councillors need to make that happen.

Craig said...

Most of the ex footballers and fossils like myself still playing the game in the welfare league will relate to what I'm about to say. Cast your mind back to the days of Canteen, Rangers Supporters Club and Covenanters. Nairn had an abundance of good footballers and more importantly, Nairn would provide at least 12 teams that would support its own league of teams solely from Nairn. Those were the days where a tackle above the waist was deemed far and often encouraged. Fast forward to 2016 and things have changed. Nairn has 3 teams with Forres providing 3, Kinloss 1 and the remainder of the 12 comings from Elgin but I can confirm, tackles remain the same :-)

Welfare football is dying with rising costs of facilities and poor maintenance of those said facilities as councils budgets are squeezed. It costs each team over £350 just to enter the league then each game will cost over £30 each just to cover the costs of the referee and lining of the pitch. Despite these costs, the appetite for players that are looking to make the step up to Junior football or are just wanting a game of football is definitely there. Nairn is lucky to be blessed with some quality footballers with Jackos and Auldearn dominating the league over the years. My guys just want to play football yet the path for welfare footballers is expensive and difficult.

Today myself and Fergus Gordon who is the Chairman of the (FNDWA) Forres and Nairn District Welfare Association met with Councillors Liz Macdonald and Stephen Fuller to discuss the issues in the article above and I'm happy to say they both came up with some positive short term proposals.

Riverside is out of action due to the goals being in the same position for over 5 years now and the pitch just getting no time to rest so the goal mouths are a safety hazard to put it mildly. Liz is going to inspect the changing rooms and the pitch with grounds manager George Blackwell tomorrow morning 13th January. Hopefully in the not to distant future the toilets, after 2 years will be working and the showers will be active and warm after well over 5 years of not working. Hopefully the extension of small posts around the pitch will be installed and will stop cars driving onto the pitch and doing rally type skids thus wrecking the park for others. Liz will also confirm if Riverside Pitch is ok for playing on with immediate effect. Fingers crossed!!

In regards to the academy facility this should be made more community friendly with the new management that will be implemented shortly. The current grass pitches are a state but im assured they will be repaired soon Hopefully we will see progress here soon and the see the FNDWA having easier access along with other community groups and clubs.

I also had a cracking conversation with Councillor Michael Green about the same issue above. Michael is very passionate about local football and is keen to see Nairn welfare teams flourish. Michael, along with Liz and Stephen suggested applying for the Nairn Ward Discretionary fund. He did mention another part of this but I forget the word he used so apologies. Basically Jackos and the FNDWA have the opportunity to apply for funding from £200 up to £2000 that should help our cause to help renovate Riverside changing rooms and bring the pitch back to a standard that's playable. This would be a fantastic shot in the arm for Nairn grass roots football.

Again, I ask you to cast your mind back. You're walking past an open space of grass and its full of young boys playing football till it got dark and you had to be in when the lights came on. Its a sight that's dying off and you don't see to much of it these days but its not completely dead. Lets at least give these kids the opportunity to do it and not provide them the excuse not to.