Anthony Staines, assistant first-team coach at North Walkden FC in Salford, explained his dismay at the realisation that their newly-built dugout had been vandalised and the rollercoaster of emotions when the Salford community stepped in.
Having used a handful of council pitches across the area to compensate their 20 teams, the amateur club were taking standards to the next level when the opportunity to have their own base emerged.
North Walkden FC took that with two hands and sharpened up the pitch to make it their own.
Given the gap from under-18s to the first-team, Staines believes “they’ve not got a lot to aim at with the facilities”, so building a dugout to accommodate the new pitch seemed a fantastic step.
However, the countless hours put into building the dugout all counted for nothing when they came to find it vandalised in early September.
“It was demoralising”, said Staines.
“I’m helping with the open age team and an under-12s team and there is other coaches who are all mucking in who are running multiple teams.
“The little time we did have spare went on the pitch, so it was a big effect to us.”
With the materials ruined – some that had been paid for and others donated – as well as a notable clean up required, it was far from the ideal situation.
Staines added: “We’ve just seen a bit of progress going on; we’d painted the barriers; dugouts had started; turn up one day and it’s like oh my god. Back to square one.”
Thanks to the lovely people who decided it was a good idea to knock down the dugouts at our new pitch. The materials are not cheap and the labour was done by our already hard working volunteers who are trying to run multiple children’s team. If any one can help let us know please pic.twitter.com/tVXOH9EerW
— North Walkden FC (@north_walkdenfc) September 8, 2019
The club reached out via Twitter to see if anyone could lend a hand with a potential rebuild.
The English Cities Fund got in touch with their contractors Bowmer and Kirkland, and they took action.
Phil Marsden, project manager at The English Cities Fund said: “Given the amount of development we’re undertaking at Salford Central, it’s important for us to give back to the community we’ve been serving for over a decade.”
Staines continued: “They’ve got a good partnership and they mucked in between them and said ‘pass us the key we’ll basically provide the materials and built it’. We was like Jesus Christ that’s very thoughtful.”
Big thanks you @Muse_Devs and @bandkbuild who have built these fantastic dug outs after our attempt was destroyed. After feeling deflated these guys have pulled off something very special and all at @north_walkdenfc are extremely grateful pic.twitter.com/EISVdFlBC1
— North Walkden FC (@north_walkdenfc) November 9, 2019
Locals helping out with such a community project for the football club precisely sums up the close-knitted relationship that Salford can boast with its businesses and residents all working in cohesion.
“We’re not brickers by trade but we did the best we could – it didn’t look bad but fair play to them they’ve mucked in and they’ve rallied round. Fingers crossed the kids see that and think alright at least its not something tinpot let’s respect it a little bit”, Staines said.
Marsden added: “Regeneration isn’t just about shiny new buildings, it’s about working with partners across the community to create a lasting legacy that benefits everyone.
“It’s great to now see the finished dugouts, along with the benefit these will provide all aspects of the football club and the wider community.
“This, in turn, will improve participation across all age groups, which is so important within grassroots sports and we’re proud to do our bit to support the club.”