12:22 2 October 2022
Long Melford Football Club have celebrated the opening of their new £700,000 clubhouse.
The club – which is among the oldest in the country with records dating back to 1868 – opened the building on Friday, September 30, after years of work.
The new facilities include FA-standard changing rooms, as well as a bar. And it is hoped that the clubhouse will be used not only by club members, but also by the wider local community.
Rob Bowden, vice-chairman of the Long Melford Community Sports Trust, said: “The club’s senior team play at a reasonable level – the Thurlow Nunn Premier League – but the clubhouse itself had fallen into disrepair.
“The clubhouse, changing rooms and everything else were really not suitable.
“I called a meeting with the senior club and we said we really needed to build a new clubhouse to generate revenue and safeguard the future of the club.”
After securing around £500,000 in funding from Football Foundation – Babergh District Council, Long Melford Parish Council and the club themselves poured more money into the project managing to raise over £700,000 for construction .
After “hundreds of meetings and thousands of emails” – as well as disruption caused by Covid just two days into the construction phase – the clubhouse has now opened after “seven or eight years” of work.
Mr Bowden said: “For a village the size of Long Melford and the surrounding community to be able to build something like this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
“From a football club perspective, they now have facilities on a par with anything in the region.
“Any successful football club has to involve its community and has to generate money that doesn’t come from people walking through the door.
“This money goes to a trust whose commitment is to continually improve the facilities.
“So while this is the catalyst for all of this, it’s really just the beginning.”
Olivia Hurley and her father Kevin – both of KHA Architects and Design – designed and supervised the construction.